“Some time joy of fasting is more than feasting”. If you have not felt it, then better ask Anna Hazare Ji.
The Paryushan Parva, an important annual Jain observance, is the time to uplift the self through fasting, meditation, soul-searching, self-study, compassion and forgiveness for all fellow beings. This is a time for introspection, reflection and purification.Some wonder, isn’t it difficult to fast and stay without eating anything? Those who do manage to fast speak in glowing terms of the wonderful effects of penance that purifies the soul. The greater the will, the greater would be the flow of energy, they say. During the process of penance, toxins accumulated in body cells begin to get expelled. Our body gets recharged and feels relaxed. This minimises physical ailments, increases strength and keeps our body, mind and hormonal balance in check. It takes place during the rainy season, when travelling barefoot is difficult for Jain monks and nuns; so they make themselves available to the community for instruction and guidance(chaturmas).
They also do svadhyaya or self-study. The purpose of Paryushan is to stay close to your soul, reflect on your shortcomings, seek forgiveness for wrongdoings, remove internal corruption and vow to minimise mistakes.
Daily meditation and prayers help one to look within and reflect on the teachings of the Tirthankaras for guidance.
Mahavira led a socio-spiritual, non-violent movement. He rejected the caste system and gender bias and promoted equity. He did not preach, but practised his philosophy. He liberated Chandanbala, a slave girl, and showed her the path towards eternal peace, purity, progress and spirituality. She became his disciple. He promoted a radical economic, political and social justice movement based on complete equality.
The fivefold mantra that is recited offers obeisance not to God, but to arihants or perfected beings, siddhas or liberated souls, acharyas or masters, upadhyayas or teachers, sadhus or renunciates. With mantra-chanting, seekers find release through their own efforts, and not by waiting for divine intervention.
The final day of Paryushan is Samvastsari Pratikraman or annual confession. It is the time for confession and seeking forgiveness as well as being forgiving as all this helps in self-liberation. The ritual of seeking forgiveness from the teacher is widened in scope to include family, friends and all living and even non-living beings. This ritual of forgiveness is sometimes called the rite of universal friendship.
All these things are neither forced nor compulsive. You can do it the way you want, but more you can stick to principles the better it is for you only. In fact I am trying to do it for 10 days, pertaining to my capabilities to manage job, home and body. Finally, this is not for god, it is entirely for your benefit. If some one does it with full devotion, he feel the lightness in mind, body and soul, feels tranquility.