|Family Celebrations - Birthday, Graduation, Mothers/Fathers Day, Anniversary, Marriage, Baby Showers - Prayers – On the day of the celebration, contemplate on the event for a few minutes. Do longer prayers in the morning when you get up and before you go to bed.
Family – Touch your parents feet or call them up and spend more time with them on the phone.
Family – Call and/or visit your parents/grandparents and pay respect to them.
Expectations – If your family, relatives, friends (or even your spouse) forgets this date, gently remind them without sarcasm and don’t hold grudges.
Temple – Try to go to temple on that day or on the weekend after the birthday, graduation, or anniversary.
Party – If you are having a party at your home, be sure to have eggless cake.
Party – If you are going to eat out or cater, try to go to a vegetarian restaurant or a place that has plenty of vegetarian food. If you are paying, then you should pre-order only vegetarian health food. Alcohol should not be part of any celebrations.
On these auspicious days, make one resolution for the next year.
Gifts – Only accept gifts that are non-leather, silk, and non-animal tested. Mention this on the invitation card.
Invitation Card – Instead of accepting gifts, let your guest know that NO gifts are accepted – but optionally you can ask them to donate to a charity that protects animals (Beauty without Cruelty, PETA, etc.) (See below.)
Donation – Give a donation at the temple (Appx. 10% of the amount that you receive in gifts).
Exercise – On celebration days, make it a point to celebrate your wonderful body. Exercise, meditate, pray, and relax.
Recycle – Recycle plates, glasses, bottles. In large multi-day gatherings, put names on cups/glasses. Avoid styrofoam.
The Art of Dying - Death is simply a change in state. Just as one changes a house or changes their clothes, with death the Soul changes from one body to another. Death can happen anytime. Hence at any moment we must be ready for this, and if it happens at a moment’s notice or drawn out over years, we must be ready. This readiness happens with the strong practice of Non-Violence, Non-Absolutism, and Non-Possessiveness in thoughts, speech, and actions. "From the point of view of absolute principle (Nischay Nay), death in fact is like our mother. Just like our worldly mother, death gives us rebirth. Death brings another life for us. Death takes us from one way to another way of life, from one body to another body. She is the giver of liberation (Moksha). She liberates us from the cycle of birth and rebirth.
Jain Festivals -
Generally, festivals are celebrations and jubilations characterized by excitement, enthusiasm, enjoyment and entertainment; but the Jain festivals are characterized by both the external and internal celebration. This internal celebration is through renunciation, austerities, study of the scriptures, meditation, and expressing devotion for the Jinas (idols). Even those people who are caught in the meshes of mundane life, according to their ability and conveniences, get free from the external worldly entanglements to the extent possible and become immersed in worship and meditation.
Mahavir's Life and Teachings -
Lord Mahävir was the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankar of Jains in this era. According to Jain philosophy, all Tirthankars were human beings but they attained a state of perfection or enlightenment through meditation and self-realization. They are the Gods of Jains. Mahävir rejected the concept of God as a creator, a protector, and a destroyer of the universe. He also denounced the worshiping of gods and goddesses as a means of material gains and personal benefits and God’s abilities to absolve their believers from their sins.
Celebration of the Soul - Paryushan Parv and Das Lakshan - Paryushan is an eternal festival relating neither to people nor to any historical event. It is a time to celebrate the natural qualities of the Soul. Just as the Soul does not have a beginning or an end, Paryushan does not have a beginning or an end. It falls three times a year but is only celebrated once, around August/September because at this time, business is slow (in India), businessmen can take time off for spiritual pursuit. Also, it is the time of the monsoon retreat for monks and nuns in India. During this time when insects flourish, the monks and nuns reside in one city or community to avoid long distance travel so as to minimize trampling or harming living beings.
8-10 Days of Living a Jain Way of Life -
Paryushan Parv/Das Lakshan are festivals for celebrating the qualities and essence of the Soul. These auspicious 8 or 10 days offer us an opportunity to focus on our spirituality with the hope that we will live a Jain Way of Life for the rest of the year.
Disciplining oneself for these practices is a difficult task. The following activity recommendations are for people of all ages along with point incentives. A family can print this page and give one copy to each member of the family to fill out and add up the points at the end of the festival. A gift can be offered for achieving a certain point target. Each family member should encourage and help others to achieve their best.
The Practice of Equanimity and Pratikraman-
Pratikraman is a practice of confession and repentance and can be done in many different ways. It can be performed at any time but is specifically done on the last day of Paryushan Parv celebration. It includes the following six essentials:
Celebrating Thanksgiving - The Jain Way-
Between 260 and 300 million turkeys are slaughtered annually in the United States, according to USDA statistics.
Of these, approximately 45 million are killed for Thanksgiving, and 22 million are killed for Christmas. Per capita turkey consumption, which has increased steadily in the United States, averages just below 18 pounds per person. In 1970, turkey consumption per person averaged just 6.4 pounds.
The White House turkey is pardoned and sent to the Washington Zoo each year during Thanksgiving.