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Fasting is very common among Jains and as a part of festivals. Most Jains fast at special times such as birthdays, anniversaries, during festivals, and on holy days. Paryushana is the most prominent festival, lasting eight days in Svetambara Jain tradition and ten days in Digambara Jain tradition during the monsoon. The monsoon is a time for Jains to observe most of the religious procedures. However, a Jain may fast at any time. Jain saints usually perform fasts every now and then but at times it becomes a compulsion for them when they have committed an error in relation to the preachings of Mahavira. Variations in fasts encourage Jains to do whatever they can to maintain whatever self control is possible for the individual. According to Jain texts, abstaining from the pleasures of the five senses such as sounds and dwelling in the self in deep concentration is fasting (upavāsa).[1]

Aims for fasting

Fasting can be done to purify both the body and the soul but fasts are also done as a penance.[2]


The word Proşadha refers to the holy days in the lunar month. It means giving up the four kinds of food. Proşadhopavāsa is fasting on the eighth and fourteenth days of the lunar cycle. According to Jain text, Puruşārthasiddhyupāya:

For the sake of strengthening the performance of daily meditation (sāmāyika), one must undertake fasting twice each lunar fortnight (Proşadhopavāsa).

— Puruşārthasiddhyupāya (151)[3]

Free from all routine activities, and giving up attachment to own body etc., one should commence fasting from mid-day prior to the day of fasting (the eighth and the fourteenth day of each lunar fortnight).

— Puruşārthasiddhyupāya (152)[3]

The person fasting discards bodily adornments such as bath, perfume, garlands, and ornaments, and spends their time in a sacred place such as the abode of a saint or a temple, or somewhere on their own contemplating pure thoughts by listening to scripture.[4]

Types of fasting

There are several types of fasts:[5][6]


Main article: Sallekhana

Sallekhanā is the last vow prescribed by the Jain ethical code of conduct. The vow of sallekhanā is observed by the Jain ascetics and lay votaries at the end of their life by gradually reducing the intake of food and liquids.[9][10] [2] This practice has been subject to ongoing debate by human rights experts.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Jain 1992, p. 203.
  2. ^ a b c d "Religions: Jainism: Fasting". BBC. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b Jain 2012, p. 98.
  4. ^ Jain 1992, p. 203-204.
  5. ^ "Jain rituals and ceremonies" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 March 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Jain World". Archived from the original on 30 August 2008.
  7. ^ Jinendra, Jai. "Importance of Fasting during Paryushan." Jain Square. N.p., n.d. Web.
  8. ^ "JAIN RITUALS AND CEREMONIES - Harvard University pluralsm/affiliates/jainism/workshop... · PDF fileJAIN RITUALS AND CEREMONIES Introduction ... • Rayia Every Morning • Devasik". Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  9. ^ Wiley 2009, p. 181.
  10. ^ Tukol 1976, p. 7.


See also