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Significance of Jain Das Lakshana festival
The Jain festival of Roth Teej was observed in Jaipur on September 8 this year. I had the opportunity of visiting the home of a senior journalist Praveenchanra Chhabara on this occasion. I had Roth and Tori Rayata which was prepared after I reached Chhabara's home since it is cooked fresh in the name of the visitor or family member when he or she reports at the dining area of the household.

After having two Roths, before my departure, Chhabara presented me two books written by him on Jainism titled Dhhammam-Sharnam and Chandan Ke Baba. The former is related to the observance of Das Lakshana festival observed during the holy Bhadrapada month and its significance. Both of his books have been published by Rajasthan Jain Sabha, Jaipur. 

Digambara Jains of Jaipur observe Das Lakshana with 'ashtaprakari puja' during the Bhadrapada month every year. This festival is also called Ashtanhika Mahotsav since vows or vratas of self-restraint, study of scriptures and fasting for spiritual uplift are undertaken in this month. The festival starts on Pinkham or the fifth day of the Shula Pasha phase of the Bhadrapada month after Roth Teej on Chaturthi which was observed on September 8 this year. 

There are minor differences of the dates of Das Lakshana among various sub-sects of Jains, but it is observed in the pious month of Bhadrapada by them. During this month, there is an annual renewal of the faith by revisting the tenets of the Dharma, meditation and reaffirmation of vratas or vows of self-control. 

The ten Lakshan of Dharma are revisited during this festival. These being: Uttam Kshama (supreme forbearance), Uttam Mardava (supreme gentleness), Uttam Aarjava (supreme uprightness), Uttam Satya (supreme truth), Uttam Shauch (supreme purity), Uttam Sanyam (supreme restraint), Uttam Tap (supreme austerity), Uttam Tyaga (supreme renunciation), Uttam Aakinchanya (supreme lack of possession) and Uttam Brahmcharya (supreme moral conduct or chastity). 

In the Digambaras, it is done by starting a 10-day period from Bhadrapada Shukla panchami during which the dashalakshana vrata is undertaken. In the Shvetambaras, an 8-day festival is celebrated that ends with Bhadrapada Shukla chaturthi. During the 8-day festival, the Kalpa Sutra is recited in this sect that includes a recitation of the section on birth of Lord Mahavira on the fifth day. 

However, irrespective of differences of dates in various Jain sects, six essential activities during the festival are to practice equanimity; to pray to the five Supremes, 24 Jinas and the 4 mangalas; to read scriptures as presented by the ancient Masters; to reflect on vratas and past transgressions; to perform Kayotsarga mediation; and to make resolutions or take vows afresh. 

At the conclusion of the festival, the Jains request each other for forgiveness for all offenses committed during the last year. This occurs on the Paryusha day for the Swetambara sect and on Pratipada (first) of Ashwin Krashna for the Digambara sect. 

In both the sects, forgiveness is asked by speaking the phrase "Micchami Dukkadam" or "Uttam Kshama" to one another. he phrase means: "If I have caused you offence in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness".

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