New York: Shwetambar Jain community of New York has been celebrating Paryushan with fortitude and fanfare amid the pandemic since August 15.
It is commendable that a conservative religious community has found ways to maintain the rituals in changing and challenging times of Covid-19. Following the guidelines of local authorities, only the permitted number of people are allowed to visit temples at any given time. The community is harmoniously performing all traditional rituals and activities without any hurdle. All the events are simultaneously organized using virtual platforms such as Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube. People are celebrating the festivities with great Jain scholars from all over the world without leaving their homes.
For Jains, the week-long Paryushan is the festival of self-purification of body, mind and soul. During this period, they observe five vows – Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, and Aprigraha — according to one’s ability and desire. The spirituality intensifies by fasting, prayers, meditations and forgiveness.
Jain Center of America, Elmhurst, Queens is the oldest organization and temple in United States frequently visited by over 2,000 families. Other centers in New York metro area are Jain Temple of New York in New Hyde Park and Jain Samaj of Long Island, Hicksville. The Federation of Jain Associations of North America (JAINA) is the national organization representing over 90 Jain centers and over 120,000 Jains in USA and Canada.
August 22 is Samvatsari, the last day of Paryushan. On that day, after the annual prayers, Jains forgive and seek forgiveness for their unfriendly actions during the year gone by. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi greets the nation with “Michchami Dukkadam” on Samvatsari, the “Day of Forgiveness”. Notably, Home Minister Amit Shah is a Jain.