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Dus Lakshan

Written By: Ruchi - Sep• 08•14
Dus Lakshan is the biggest festival celebrated by Digambar Jains. Dus means ten and Lakshan means virtue. It’s a festival of ten virtues – forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness, contentment, truth, sensual restraint, austerities, charity, non-possessiveness, and celibacy. It is also known as Paryushan Parva.
It is a 10 days affair starting from the panchami of the Hindu month Bhadra and ending on the 14th day, on Anant Chaturdash. The 10th day of the Bhadra month is Dhoop Dashmi. The day after Anant Chaturdash is the Kshama Parva, when all Jains call their relatives and friends and ask for forgiveness.
Dus Lakshan
How is it celebrated
Although Jains are supposed to follow the above mentioned virtues all year round but especially during this time, it’s kind of forced through this festival. During these ten days, eating fruits and vegetables is strictly prohibited. The belief is that picking fruits and vegetables hurts the plants and the trees. Very few people observe fast for all ten days, most observe it for a couple of days on the days of their choosing. Very strict followers fast without water and break it only in the evening (before sunset) with milk products and dry fruits. Others eat one meal in the day time and take milk etc. in the evening.
Dhoop Dashmi fast is the most difficult one. Married women are supposed to keep ten of those in consecutive years, if possible. They can’t eat anything the whole day. In the evening they can have clove water and that’s it. Next day, they can eat food after doing pooja.
The philosophy of this festival is the same as any other festival in any religion. The basic idea is to cleanse your body as well as mind by eating light and following the basic virtues.
Kshama Yachna Parva is an exception and it’s worth elaborating on. Hinduism teaches us that the soul keeps on taking births in the form of different bodies in different lives. Every action of the body is registered in the karmic account of that soul. If you hurt someone and that person does not forgive you, you will have to repay that debt either in this life time or in the subsequent births. This Kshama Yachna Parva is an attempt to settle that debt in this same life so that you don’t have to go through the pain of repaying the debt in your future births.
Of course the forgiveness has to be heart felt and no matter whether the other person forgives you or not, you have to keep on trying without getting angry or frustrated. It’s hard but it cleanses your karmic account. It’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than facing the pain when the other soul hurts you back.