Grand Celebration of Paryushana Parva at Chicago
Friday, September 5, 2008
Posted by: Hemant Shah
The Grand Celebration of Paryushana Maha Parva
by Jain Society of Chicago:
Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago (JSMC) conducted a grand celebration of Paryushana Parva at its Bartlett, Illinois temple. More than 2400 people attended the festivities of Mahavir Janma Vanchan, Paryushan Parva's most celebrated event. Celebration included “Sarvato Bhadra Poojan”, “Arihant Vandanavali”, “Bhaktamar Jaap”, “Navakar Rang bhakti”, and cultural programs. During Paryushan, Jain Society successfully raised $2 million in fund raising for its construction and expansion project. A proud member of the society, 16 year young Eva, celebrated her birthday with Masaksaman, 34 days of continuous fasting.
Founded in 1970, the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago (JSMC) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Illinois and provides various educational, religious and community activities in its newly expanded and renovated facility on a 15.4-acre property in Bartlett, Illinois. JSMC is a member of the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA) and has the distinct honor of building the first significant Jain Temple of North America in 1992 in Bartlett, Illinois. Since 1993, this facility has become the prime place for all religious and educational activity of Jain community in mid-west area. JSMC has a membership of about 1,500 families, the largest membership representation of all Jain Centers in North America.
The Jain community in Chicago, like other communities throughout the world, celebrates many social and religious functions annually. This 8-day long Jain festival, popularly known as ‘Paryushan Parva', organized every year in the auspicious month ‘Bhadrapad' of the Hindu calendar, extends from the fifth day to fourteenth day of the bright fortnight. Starting with Aug 27th, 2008 for eight days of Swetamber Paryushan, the festivities end on Sept 14th with another ten days of Das-Laxana celebration of Digambar Paryushan. The festival ordains the Jains to observe the ten universal supreme virtues in daily practical life. The non-Jains also express high reverence for this Jain festival.
On this occasion, JSMC invited a respected and learned scholar Muni Shri Tejsahebji of Mumbai, for pravachan and Jinvani (sarmons and services). Members of Jain community participated with full vigor and zeal in various religious rituals and cultural programs. JSMC invited Aradhaks Shri Hitesh Shah and Shri Karnik Shah (also a well known singer) from Vadodara. Wonderful programs such as “Sarvato Bhadra Poojan”, “Arihant Vandanavali”, “Bhaktamar Stotra pathan”, and “Navakar Rang Jaap” were organized and attended by more than 2000 people every day of the eight-day Paryushan Parva. In these celebrations lie dormant the seeds of the well being, peace and happiness of the common man. On the eve of this festival all activities, which add to social discord or bitterness are declared taboo from the temple pulpits. These celebrations harbinger social harmony and amity and preach the lofty Jain motto ‘Live and Let live'.
Some of these events were planned first time in Chicago, like Sarvato Bhadra Poojan – Pujan of 187 Tirthankaras, Arihant Vandanavali- Cahnting of Shri Chandras slokas, in the Darbar of King Siddhardth and in the presence of devendra Indra. Navakar Rang Jaap was performed with five different color of Navakar. Everyday Idol Puja, Snatrapuja, Pravachan, bhakti-sangeet and ekasana or swamivatsalya were arranged. On the fifth day of celebration, Sunday, Aug 31, “Mahavir Janma Vanchan” ceremony was performed in a colorful way. “Dev Viman” on which King Siddharth & Queen Trishala as father and mother of Lord Mahavir, show 14 dreams, decorated on JSMC's new prayer hall stage. Scene was created as when the apostle of nonviolence, truth and peace took birth into the house of king Siddarth and queen mother Trishla in Kundalpur of Bihar, East India in 599 B.C. His mother saw 14 great and beautiful, very clear and true, auspicious dreams when His Rev came to decorate her womb. About 2,700 people attended this great event with beautiful music and colorful celebration.
JSMC Trustee and Chairman of Board, Dipak Doshi, said that, on Friday and Saturday, JSMC created its all-time record and history of its best fund raising drive by successfully raising more than $2 Million for completing its construction and temple expansion project. Many Jains and non-Jains opened up their heart and pockets and poured in to demonstrate their support by contributing towards JSMC's $9 million construction and expansion project covering its community center and reconstruction of temple. The board of trustees and executive committee were pleased and grateful to many for a warm and encouraging response from the community.
Samatsavari the last day of this festival and one of its most significant days was celebrated on September 4 for Swetamber tradition. Many continued fasting through the last day. Jains strongly believe in forgiving. On Samatsvari's last partikarman the Jain community plead its message of forgiveness by saying “Michhami Dukkadam”. On this auspicious day of Samvatsary let's forgive and be forgiven. Michchhami Dukkadam comes from 'Mithya Me Dushkrutyam' which has been modified over a period of time. The phrase translates to “forgive my misdeeds”.
Fasting is very common among Jains and a part of Jain festivals. Most Jains fast at special times, during festivals, and on holy days. Paryushan is the most prominent festival, Shwetambars celeberate Paryusan for 8 days & Digambars practice the same for 10 days. This year among Swetambers more than 40 performed Atthai (to give up food and water or only food continuously for eight days), 2 person performed maun atthai, one person did chauvihar atthai (no water or food for 8 days), and 16-year-young Eva Mehta celebrated her sweet sixteen with 34 days of fasting, Masaksaman (to give up food continuously for a whole month).
Currently Das-Laxna parva is celebrated at JSMC and Digambar sect is participating in full attendance for pravachan and bhakti sangeet programs.
Jainism is a religion and a way of life. The primary mission of the JSMC is to provide a temple for religious services and a community center for religious, social, cultural, and educational needs of the Jain community. Other objectives of JSMC are to increase the awareness of the principles of Jainism, achieve the unity of all Jains, provide a platform to project the voice of Jain religion, promote the feeling of amity and brotherhood among Jains, promote inter-faith understanding, to establish communications between scholars of Jain philosophy and members of the Society, and celebrate Jain festivals and holidays.