Chaumasi Chaudas is one of the most important festivals of Jainism. Stemming from the Lord Mahavir’s teachings and philosophy, the festival is a manifestation of the principle of non-violence and charity. The several dimensions to this celebration have changed from time to time, but the main purpose of this festival is to provide an occasion to reflect on the philosophy and teachings of Lord Mahavir and to practice them for the well-being of oneself as well as the whole world.
Significance of Chaumasi Chaudas:
The Chaturmas or Chaumas implies to the period of four months that starts from Ashadi Purnima (June-July) and ends on the Karthika Purnima (October - November). This four month period in India is marked by monsoon and hence known as Varsha Vaas. The rains bring vegetation, making the earth green. In ancient times, there was minimal road connectivity. Hence, the environment was filled with rich fauna in the rainy season. Jainism views plants as lives with senses and feelings. Non-violence is strictly emphasised in Jainism. To save vegetation from the human movements during Chaturmas, Jain sages used to avoid travelling during these four months. It was advised that people especially the Jain sages must remain indoors. Sages commit themselves to prayers and meditation during Chaturmas seeking the welfare for all. This concept of non-violence marks the spirit behind the Chaumasi Chaudas. To awake the internal power, they practice spirituality. Hence, Chaturmas is the period to up rise spirituality within oneself. In modern times, however, the auspiciousness of Chaturmas is still the same. It is the time to perform penance by becoming spiritual.
During the four months of Chaumasi Chaturmas, the entire life takes a new turn. Devotees take holy baths in rivers and observe fast during this period. The devotees consume an only single meal. Jain sages commit themselves to meditation and penance by confining themselves to their ashrams.
In Jainism, teachings of Lord Mahavira are followed and practised with great devotion and dedication. During Chaturmas Jain devotees engage in worshiping the Lord and perform many religious rituals. During these days, they clean and adorn their houses and shop for new clothes. To overcome all the misdeeds, sins and to earn good ‘Karma,’ donations and alms are performed.