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Jainism: Practices Rituals and Festivals

Page history last edited by Brock Baker 12 years, 3 months ago

Jainism: Practices Rituals and Festivals


Daily Practices


The Jain practices and rituals depend greatly on how seriously one participates in the religion. Intensity ranges from one's life revolving around the religion, and one's beliefs revolving around their life. Meaning to some Jains, religion is first and only priority and others practice what they can when they can. Jainisms' main belief system consists of:




3.No theft




Lay Jains, also known as householders have exceptions to these practices. Such as owning clothing, a home and being intimate with a spouse. However they are to limit their possesions as much as possible, and they should limit their sexual activity to only when necessary and with one's spouse only. Once a son has been produced, complete celibacy should be practiced.



Monks and Nuns do everything in their power to obide to these rules, such as:

-Wearing/Possesing no clothing (Nuns and some Monks wear three sheets of a simple fabic and Nuns wear white saris.)

-They practice complete celibacy and don't have children

-They do no own homes or have any possesions, they beg for food

-They only eat vegetables, fruits, nuts and milk

There are exceptions to their diets: They are not to consume fruits from certain trees like the Banyan, Pipal and fig etc and root vegetables e.g. patatoes, carrots, onions, garlic etc. Because they have the potential of life (micro organisms) They often practice fasting, and when they are not they eat as sparingly as possible to avoid harming many plants or other organisms.

However some people who do practice Jainism also have homes, families, and wear clothing. However all Jains, no matter what their practices, are strictly vegetarians.

 jain monks wearing cloth masks to prevent causing harm to any micro organisms or insects by inhaling them.



Daily rituals, for the average Jain consist of:


-repenting for sins and violence

-self control through medition, (usually for 48 minutes)

-going without something pleasurable

-paying respect to the Monks


Rituals and daily practices for the Lay Jain ( a person particulairly observant and obidient of the religion and it's practices)

-Morning prayers (which are said before dawn)

     -Panca Namaskara Sutra

     -Pratikramana (repentence for violent acts or harm done throughout the night)

-temple visit

-care for others

-make food donations to the monks and nuns, and greet them

-care for those less fortunate

-prayer before lunch

-eat supper or last meal of the day before dark

-temple visit (sometimes replaced by worship at home)

-Pratikramana (repentence for violent acts or harm done during the day)

-reading of sciptures

(and whenever possible, Lay Jains try to practice 48 minutes of meditation also)




Fasting unto Death:

"When a wise man, in whatever way, comes to know that the apportioned space of his life draws towards its end, he should in the meantime quickly learn the method of dying a religious death. As a tortoise draws its limbs into its own body, so a wise man should cover, as it were, his sins with his own meditation. He should draw in, as it were, his hands and feet, his mind and five organs of sense, the effect of his bad karma, and every bad use of language." (Sutrakrtanga i.8.15-17; Jacobi 1895:299)

Fasting until death is not considered suicide, it is considered a religious way to die, (essentially dying without comitting sin which would be harming microorganisms or with holding possesions)



Fasting occurs regularly within the Jain religion, and varies between abstaining from all food and water, and only abstaining from certain foods. Lay Jains or householders generally practice a more relaxed fast more often than a complete fast, and Monks and Nuns generally practice a complete fast at least 2 times each month. Because even fruit and vegetables contain microorganisms and were once living, Jains try to abstain from eating as much as possible (without being unhealthy) to come closer to achieving Nirvana.



Jain's worship resembles that of Hindus because of their geographical locations. One thing that is not the same is that Jains worship the tirthankaras because of their acheivements, and they recognize them as perfect, and the ultimate personal achievement, but they do not worship the tirthankaras themselves.

Tirthankaras are not Gods in the least, they are just respected for their achievements to transcendence. Jains pay respect to them for those achievements.

Many tirthankaras are immortalized by statues such as the one below, they are often sitting crossed legged or in a still position (a meditative like position), to represent their efforts of self actualization. Also the worshiping of the tirthankaras is in no way selfish or in attempts to be rewarded, because the tirthankaras have no power of human beings, whether it be positive or negative.



Bahubali, the 68 foot tall statue located in Sravana, Belgola. He stands in an unbroken meditation.



Diwali festival


Diwali is the festival of lights, and marks a new year for the Jain calendar. It is the most eleborate and beautiful festival of Jainsim.

The lights symbolize good overcoming evil within all humans and creatures on earth and symbolizes Nirvana

It allows for a fresh year to begin, and allows good karma to start that new year.

Diwali occurs at different times according to different religious calendars, but it is a 6 day festival that according to the Hindu calendar commences on the fourth last day of the month Ashwin and ends on the second day of the month Kartika.



BBC. Religion and Ethics- Jainism. 29 Oct. 2003. 24 Sep. 2008 http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/worship/dailyspirituality.shtml.


BBC. Religion and Ethics- Jainism. 21 Oct. 2003. 24 Sep. 2008 http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/holydays/holydays.shtml.


BBC. Religion and Ethics- Jainism. 29 Oct. 2003. 24 Sep. 2008 http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/living/layjaincode.shtmlhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/living/layjaincode.shtml.


Shah, Dr. Natubhai K. The Jain Centre, Jainism Articles. 2002. 24 Sep. 2008 http://www.jaincentre.com/artfrm.htm.


Multi Faith Net. An Introduction to Jainism. 2004.24Sep.2008 http://www.multifaithcentre.org/religions/jainism/index.asp.


Oxtoby, Willard G. World Religions: Eastern Traditions. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1996.


Brittanica Online Encyclopedia. Tirthankara.. 3 Oct. 2008




Wikipedia. God in Jainism. 17 Sep. 2008. 3 Oct. 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_Jainism


Wikipedia. Diwali. 4 Oct. 2008. 4 Oct. 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diwali



Jainism: Practices Rituals and Festivals




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