International Forgiveness Day

Today is International Forgiveness Day or Samvatsari for Jains.

Jainism is an ancient Indian religion and Samvatsari is the holiest day in their calendar. The largest communities are still based in India, but it’s thought that there are about 25,000 followers of Jainism in the UK. Many of these live around Leicester. There are an estimated 7 million Jains worldwide.

Samvatsari is the last day of Paryushana. This is an 8 day period of purification, devoted to study, prayer, meditation and fasting, which ends with this time of confession and forgiveness. Paryushana means ‘to stay in one place’, which shows the importance of sustained reflection prior to repentance and confession. Originally the practice was monastic, but nowadays all Jains are encouraged to take part, with monks invited to give teachings from the Jain scriptures.

Many Jains observe a complete fast for Samvatsari, on this day, spending the day in prayer and contemplation. An annual elaborate penitential ritual is performed. During this, participants forgive and seek forgiveness from all living beings for their mistakes committed knowingly or unknowingly. No private quarrel or dispute may be carried beyond Samvatsari. Afterwards, they personally greet relatives, friends and others with the phrase “Micchami Dukkadam“. Messages are sent, and telephone calls made, to friends and relatives who live elsewhere, asking their forgiveness.

Mary Vickers moved to North East Lincolnshire in 2010, from the Wiltshire/Hampshire border, to become Urban and Industrial Chaplain NELincs. Made redundant in 2017, she's maintained many of her connections within the business, faith, and other local communities. She's also decided to stay here rather than return to either the south or her husband's native Yorkshire, so that she can continue to enjoy and help promote the positives of NELincs.

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