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Deepavali or Diwali in Jain Dharma

Diwali (दीपावली पर्व) in Jain Dharma

Diwali on November, 2015:  Vir Nirvan Sanvat 2541

   Lord Mahavira

In Jain Dharma, Diwali is celebration of Tirthankar Mahavira`s contributions to humankind; it commemorates Mahavira`s attainment of moksha or salvation in Bihar`s Pawapuri

All the Jains celebrate the festival of Diwali with joy. Diwali or Deepawali is the most important festival in India. For the Jains, it is the second most important festival after the Paryusana Parva. Diwali marks the anniversary of Bhagavan Mahavir's moksha.

Diwali festival was first time mentioned In Harivamsha-Purana written by Acharya Jinasena, in 783AD. Acharya Jinasena mentions that Bhagavan Mahavira, attained nirvana at Pawapuri in the month of Kartika,Krashna paksh, during swati nakshatra, at the time of dawn. In Harivamsha-Purana sloka 19 and in sloka 20 he writes

jvalatpradiipaalikayaa pravraddhyaa
suraasuraih dipitayaa pradiiptayaa|
tadaa sma paavaanagarii samantatah
radipitaakaashatalaa prakashate| 19|
prasiddha-deepalikaya-aatra bharate |
samudyatah poojayitum jineshvaram
jinendra-nirvana vibhuti-bhaktibhak |20 |

 ततस्तुः लोकः प्रतिवर्षमादरत् प्रसिद्धदीपलिकयात्र भारते |
समुद्यतः पूजयितुं जिनेश्वरं जिनेन्द्र-निर्वाण विभूति-भक्तिभाक् |२०

The gods illuminated Pavanagari by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time the people of Bharat celebrate the famous festival of "Dipalika" to worship the Jinendra on the occasion of his nirvana.

In Uttara-puraana written by Acharya GunBhadra (7th or 8th century) it is mentioned that in the month of Kartika, krashna paksha, svati nakshatra and on the night of the 14th (dawn of the amavasya), lord Mahavira became a Siddha (attained nirvana).

An ancient mention of Lord Mahavira's nirvana and lightening of lamps occurs in Kalpasutra of BhadraBahu, V.S. 123, "When Lord Mahavira came to Madhyam Pava for his last varshavas, it was the fourth month of the rainy season, seventh paksha, and krashna of kartik. It was then the last day of krashna of kartik. That night Lord Mahavira attained nirvana." Kalpasutra mentions that due to the presense of gods, the night was illuminated. It further says "that On the amavasya night, 16 gana-kings, 9 Malla and 9 Lichchhavi, of Kasi and Kosal, illuminted their doors. They said: "The light of knowledge is gone, we will make light of ordinary matter".

Bhagavan Mahavira  discarded the body and the bondage of all Karmas on that night of Diwali, at Pavapuri and attained Mukti or deliverance. Thus we have been celebrating Diwali with lights since the nirvana of Lord Mahavira.

It is celebrated with with a special worship the next morning. In the early morning after the day of Diwali, Ganadhar Gautam Swami, the first disciple of Lord Mahavira attained absolute enlightenment. This could be another probable cause for celebrating the Diwali as the festivals of lights.

As tribute to the penance and sacrifice of Mahavira and his valuable contributions to our understanding of life and beyond, Swetambar Jains observe fasting during the three days of Diwali. Devotees sing and chant hymns and mantras in praise of the Tirthankar and congregate for samaik or prayer and recite verses from the Uttaradhyayan Sutra, containing the last teachings of Mahavira.

All celebration is marked by austerity, simplicity, serenity, equity, calmness, charity, philanthropy and environment- consciousness. Firecrackers are avoided as they cause noise and atmosphere pollution.

Jain temples are decorated with lights; sweets and diyas or lamps are distribu-ted - the lamps denoting knowledge or removal of ignorance. Devotees from around the world try to visit Pava-puri on this special day, offering their respects and prayers.

Diwali is celebration of Mahavira`s nirvana as well as a day that marks new beginnings, a kind of New Year. Hence members of the Jain community wish each other a Happy New Year.

The new Jain year, Vira-Nirvana-Samvat 2541 begins right after this Diwali. This Year Diwali is on 11th November 2015. The Vikrama Samvat in Gujarat starts from Diwali. Thus the new (Kartikadi) Vikrma Samvat 2072. will start in Gujarat .Divali is also important for Jains as it marks the beginning of their new year. All business accounts of the previous year are settled and new account books are started



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