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CHATURMAS 2016 BEGINS

Chaturmas is a holy period of four months (July to October), beginning on Shayani Ekadashi the eleventh day of the first bright half, Shukla Paksha, of Ashadh (fourth month of the Hindu lunar calendar until Prabodhini Ekadashi, the eleventh day of the first bright half of Kartik (eighth month of the Hindu lunar calendar) in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Chaturmas is reserved for penance, austerities, fasting, bathing in holy rivers and religious observances for all. Devotees resolve to observe some form of vow, be it of silence or abstaining from a favourite food item, or having only a single meal in a day.

In Jainism this practice is collectively known as Varshayog and is prescribed for Jain monasticism. Wandering monks such as mendicants and ascetics in Jainism, believed that during the rain season, countless bugs, insects and tiny creatures that cannot be seen in the naked eye would be produced massively. Therefore, these monks reduce the amount of harm they do to other creatures so they opt to stay in a village for the four months to incur minimal harm to other lives. These monks, who generally do not stay in one place for long, observe their annual 'Rains Retreat' during this period, by living in one place during the entire period amidst lay people, observing a vow of silence, meditation, fasting and other austerities, and also giving religious discourses to the local public. During the four-month rainy-season period, when the mendicants must stay in one place, the saint give daily sermon, attended mostly by women and older, retired men, but on special days by most of the lay congregation. During their eight months of travel, the saint give sermons whenever requested, most often when they come to a new village or town in their travels.

One of the most important Jain festivals, Paryushana, falls during this period, which concludes with Forgiveness Day, Kshamavani Diwas, wherein lay people and disciples say Micchami Dukkadam and ask forgiveness from each other. Amongst Jain merchants, there is a tradition of inviting monks to their respective cities during Chaturmas to give religious instruction. In Jainism, the third part of the classical Jain text Kalpa Sutra, written by Bhadrabahu I in the 1st century AD, deals with rules for ascetics and laws during the four months (chaturmas) of the rainy season, when ascetics temporarily abandon their wandering life and settle down amidst the laity. This is the time when the festival of Paryushan is celebrated and the Kalpasutra is traditionally recited. Paryushana is an important Jain festival celebrated in the month of August or September. Normally Śvētāmbaras refer to it as Paryushana, while Digambaras refer it as Das Lakshana. Paryushana means "abiding, coming together". The duration of Paryusana is for eight days for Swetambar jains and ten days for jains belonging to the Digambara sect. Paryusana is a time when the laity take on vows of study and fasting with a spiritual intensity similar to temporary monasticism. ........... Click here to read further...........

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