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Significance of Universal Forgiveness Day for Jains
The Jains celebrate a day for Universal Forgiveness on Panchami or fifth day of the shukla phase of the auspicious Bhadrapada month. According to Jain scriptures, Lord Mahavira used to start Paryushana on this day and it is known as 'Kshamavani Day'. Today, my Jain Facebook friends posted Kshamavani messages and wrote 'Micchami Dukkadam'.

Kshamavani Day is the last day of the ten-day celebrations pertaining to the ten universal supreme virtues or ‘das lakshan’. As an age-old  tradition, every member of Jain community approaches his or her friends, relatives, and begs pardon for all mistakes, errors and offences committed knowingly or unknowingly during the past one year.

It often said that ‘to err is human and to forgive divine’. To commit mistakes may be human nature but to realize it is also a human quality. It is only Jainism, which provides us a day to forget bitter experience and nasty offences of past with Uttam Kshama.

Often we hurt other's feelings, but sometimes, we take years to feel and say sorry. However, in Jain traditions as a part of religious practice, a public level opportunity is provided to seek forgiveness from everyone whom we have hurt knowingly or unknowingly by our thoughts, words, deed or actions.

These days, it has also become a trend to exchange messages, send on-line cards and phone calls are made to outstation friends and relatives asking for their forgiveness. It is held that that Kshamavani should be observed with a pure and humble heart for an Uttam Kshama or supreme forgiveness.

"Knowingly or unknowingly, by action or speech, words or deeds. If I have ever hurt you, then with humble heart folded hands Uttam Kshama," wrote one, on Facebook.

"By our deeds, words or behaviour, if we have hurt you and your feelings, then we bow down to you with folded hands for forgiveness with true feelings and no malice on this day of Kshmawani," read another message.

In Jainism, asking Forgiveness and forgiving is an attribute, which leads us grow beyond mundane. In fact, one has to forgive all living beings that have caused any pain and suffering. 'Micchami Dukka?a?' is a ancient prakrit phrase literally meaning 'may all the evil that has been done be fruitless' by asking forgiveness.

By seeking forgiveness from all living beings, it is asserted that a Jain is friend with everybody and has no feeling of revenge, animosity or enmity towards anybody. Seeking forgiveness and living in peaceful co-existence with others is regarded as a first step on their path to salvation, according to the teachings of Jainism.

"I ask pardon of all creatures, may all creatures pardon me. May I have friendship with all beings and enmity with none," inform the Jain scriptures. Forgiveness is also related to introspection, self-reflection, repentance and self-correction.

Jain texts quote M?hav?ra on forgiveness: “By practicing repentance, a soul gets rid of sins, and commits no transgressions; he who correctly practices repentance gains the road and the reward of the road, he wins the reward of good conduct. By begging forgiveness he obtains happiness of mind; thereby he acquires a kind disposition towards all kinds of living beings; by this kind disposition he obtains purity of character and freedom from fear."

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