The richness of Indian religion and culture has been beautifully woven. This fact can be verified with the festivities and number of stories, fables and reasons behind it. Various festivals are observed with different meanings and fervor in each religion and every community.

Diwali which comes from a Sanskrit word meaning row of lights has great significance in Jainism. For Jains, Diwali also means light leaving the body or splendiferous light of lamps. It is an auspicious day for Jain community as the 24th and the last Tirthankara Lord Mahavira attained Moksha or Nirvana on this day.

It is the day of Nirvana Kalyanaka of Lord Mahavira. Apart from this, Gautam Swami got Omniscience- the ultimate knowledge after the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira. Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana on this day at Pavapuri on October 15, 527 BC, on Chaturdashi of Kartika

The month of Kartik, which is next day after Diwali is celebrated as the New Year Day by Jains.

On the 15th day of the dark half of the month of Kartik, Lord Mahavira was observing a two-day fast. He sat in the Samavasaran and gave his last discourse which became famous as Uttaradhyayan Sutra, Vipak Sutra, etc.

Just before the hour of midnight he shed all his remaining Karmas and attained 'Nirvana'(Moksha). For a few moments, the whole world was enveloped in darkness. Gods dispelled the darkness with the help of gems and humans lit earthen lamps to have the last glimpse of their savior. Jain scriptures also mention that one of the ardent disciples of Mahavira, Gandhara Gautam Swami attained complete knowledge on this day.

“We make a Samavasaran of Lord Mahavira. We make a set up where Lord Mahavira is at the centre and all toys and statues are around him which depicts the scene of last discourse. We believe that during the discourse, every living being, including animals, insects and common man, was present,” said Poonam Jain.

However, most of the Jains celebrate this day by observing fasts.

“Our family does the Jap of 'Shri Mahavir Swami Sarvgnaya Namh' at night and at midnight the Jap of 'Shri Mahavir Swami Parangataya Namh' is done. On the early morning of the New Year Day, the Jap of 20 Navakarvalis (string with beads) is done,” said Neelam Jain.

We also meditate with total concentration so that we realize the hurdles of life and remove them. It also brings us closer to our Tirthankara, she added.

The next is also important for the Jain community as it is the New Year. “Next day is our New Year where we offer prayers in our temple,” added Poonam.

“We offer laddoos at our temples and pray for well being,” she mentioned

Akanksha Jain