A religion which I was not familiar with at all was Jainism. When I saw on the interfaith calendar Paryushana, I had no idea what the holiday was about at all. So again I went to search the internet. Jainism is an ancient Indian religion and is a close cousin of Buddhism. The religion encourages days of fasting and places value on all life-including insects. Jain's practice nonviolence and do not eat meat. The word Paryushana means "to stay in one place", which signifies a time of reflection and repentance. This holiday includes taking on vows, or renewing old, and fasting. This holiday is about recommitting the self to sprituality. Paryushana is observed though fasting, meditation, and seeking forgiveness. The observance of the holiday is for 8 or 10 days and is a time to listen to the statement of the Dharma, meditate, and practice self control.
With fasting and meditation as the main events for this holiday I did not do a food project for this holiday. We did make a banner of the Jain hand symbol.
A site with good information on Jain symbols can be found here. We have a cold running through the house so only my oldest was up for the project today. He painted the Jain hand symbol.
We just used white construction paper, a crayon, some dot paints, ink pad for finger painting, and yarn to hang the banner.
According to ejainism.com:
"The palm of the hand signifies the assurance; 'do not be afraid', indicating that human beings suffering due to karmic bondage do not need to be disheartened. Another meaning is “stop and think before you act to assure that all possible violence is avoided.” This gives us a chance to scrutinize our activities to be sure that they will not hurt anyone by our words, thoughts, or actions. We are also not supposed to ask or encourage others to take part in any harmful activity."
While the Jain hand is not Paryushana specific it seemed like a good craft as an intro to Jainism. I know I had seen this symbol before and did not know what it meant or what it was linked to so it was a lesson and introduction for all of us.
I explained that this holiday was about reflection (this is a big theme for September holidays in general) and meditation. Instead for our quiet time that day, we did a little guided imagery meditation so that my kids would have an idea of what meditation was like. My Mom actually used to do guided imagery with us when we were younger so it was a nice way to not only find a way to connect to the Jain holiday of Paryushana, but also a nice way to pass on this experience to my kids that I enjoyed when I was young.
My guided imagery:
You are laying on a warm beach and listening to the waves crash against the shore.
As you lay there you feel your body becoming more relaxed.
The relaxation starts in your toes and slowly moves its way up your legs (you can move up the relaxation up through the body until you've reach the top of the head and the whole body is relaxed)
Mama comes up to you with a big balloon. You take the balloon and you put all your worries into it. You fill up that balloon until you have no worries left anywhere inside of you.
Then you feel the string of the balloon in your hand and feel the tug of the balloon as it starts to soar toward the sky.
Let go of the string and watch the balloon slowly float away from you.
As the balloon floats away all your troubles have floated away with it.
You are still relaxed on the beach and watching your balloon fly farther and farther away until its gone and you can't see your worries anymore.
Then its good to sit in silence for a little and let your kids lead when they are ready to get up.
My main sources for information on the Jain religion and Paryushana were: