Jain Diwali: History, Rituals & Significance

jain diwali

Jain Diwali: Commemorating Nirvana and Spiritual Enlightenment

Diwali, celebrated with fervor across India, holds profound significance in Jainism, marking the nirvana (liberation) of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara. Explore the historical roots, rituals, and cultural impact of this auspicious festival celebrated by Jains worldwide.

What is the History and Significance of Jain Diwali?

Jain Diwali, known as Dipalikaya in ancient scriptures, commemorates the day when Lord Mahavira attained Moksha (liberation) at Pawapuri, Bihar, around 527 BCE. This event symbolizes the culmination of Mahavira’s spiritual journey, freeing his soul from the cycle of birth and death. Jains celebrate Diwali not only as a festival of lights but also as a time to reflect on Mahavira’s teachings of non-violence (ahimsa), truth (satya), and spiritual purity.

Mahavir attaining Nirvana

How Do Jains Celebrate Diwali?

Rituals and Observances

  • Diya Lighting: Millions of diyas and lamps are lit to signify the victory of knowledge and virtue over ignorance and darkness.
  • Nirvan Ladoo: Special sweets are offered to Lord Mahavira in temples as a mark of devotion and celebration.
  • Prayers and Fasting: Jains observe three days of fasting and engage in prayers, chanting hymns from Jain scriptures like the Uttaradhyayan Sutra.

Where and Why Do Jains Celebrate Diwali?

Jains celebrate Diwali globally, with significant observances at pilgrimage sites like Pawapuri’s Jal Mandir, where Mahavira attained nirvana. This picturesque temple, surrounded by a vast tank, holds special significance as devotees pay homage to Mahavira’s enlightenment.

What is the Jain New Year and its Connection to Diwali?

The day after Diwali marks the beginning of the Jain New Year, known as Vira Nirvana Samvat, which started in 527 BCE according to the Swetambara tradition. This era commemorates Mahavira’s nirvana and is celebrated with cultural events and public gatherings, including the grand 2500th anniversary in 1974, presided over by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

2500th anniversary in 1974, presided over by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Jain Diwali in Cultural Context

Symbolism and Unity

  • Environmental Consciousness: Jains uphold principles of non-violence by avoiding firecrackers and emphasizing simplicity and serenity in their celebrations.
  • Cultural Diversity: Diwali showcases India’s cultural mosaic, with Jains joining Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists in celebrating light, knowledge, and communal harmony.

FAQ about Jain Diwali

Do Jains celebrate Dhanteras?

No, Jains do not traditionally celebrate Dhanteras, as it focuses on material wealth, contrary to Jain principles that emphasize spiritual enlightenment and non-attachment.

Which Jain festival is after Diwali?

After Diwali, Jains observe Kartik Purnima, also known as Dev Diwali, to commemorate Mahavira’s teachings and reflect on spiritual renewal.

What is Dev Diwali in Jainism?

Dev Diwali in Jainism follows Diwali and is a time for spiritual introspection and renewal, celebrating Mahavira’s teachings and the culmination of the festival season.

How do Jains celebrate Dussehra?

Jains reflect on the victory of knowledge over ignorance during Dussehra through spiritual rituals and community gatherings, focusing on Mahavira’s teachings of wisdom and non-violence.

Conclusion

Jain Diwali transcends its religious significance; it is a celebration of enlightenment, unity, and cultural diversity. By honoring Mahavira’s liberation, Jains reaffirm their commitment to spiritual values and communal harmony, symbolized by the radiant glow of diyas illuminating homes and hearts.

Author: Admin
Jain Sattva writes about Jain culture. Explore teachings, rituals, and philosophy for a deeper understanding of this ancient faith.

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