There are a number of rituals followed during this entire week of Parsyuhana, which honestly I am not even aware of. There are morning prayers, knowledge sessions, evening prayers with special recitals, fasting etc. Every Jain, for sure observes certain food habits different from their regular habits wherein, they avoid such foods as potatoes, onions, and garlic--the eating of which entails killing the plant instead of just taking its fruit. Many Jains also fast during Paryushan, some for the entire period. At the end of Paryushan, those who have fasted for the eight or ten days break their fast with a special meal during which they do not touch food, but are fed by friends and loved ones in honor of their achievement.
Well I was on my way to do that, and somehow I got a feeling, which is called "Bhava" which means to have an inner feeling, an inner voice to get your soul drift towards achieving something. And this time, somehow I wanted to fast for 8 days and do what is known as "Atthai". In such a type of fast, one gives up eating for 8 days - which means, no food at all. To add to it, one cannot brush their teeth for 8 days, have no form of medicine, liquid or other forms of eatables. The water is the only source to survive these 8 days, and that too has to be boiled before drinking. Once the sun sets, drinking water is also not permitted.
I started off on Sunday, which went quite well, but I felt the challenge on Monday afternoon, as I was working on my job, and had nothing for almost 36 hours since saturday midnight, except for 3 bottles of boiled water. Somehow I went through Monday, made my mind not to go to work on Tuesday and went past Monday night. Tuesday dawned, and I was almost on the brink of vanishing from normal human eyesight. Having lost 3 Kgs in 3 days, I was still holding on to my wish of going through 8 days of this ritual. My stomach had now stopped making noises as the intestines and other surrounding members had settled in a much painful coiled position which used to give me chest pains and burns every hour of the day. Tuesday evening, I could barely manage to open my mouth to talk properly, and yet wanted to carry it for 5 more days. But maybe, it was God's wish, or meant to be, I somehow went through a lot of pain on Tuesday night before sleep, and made up my mind not to carry it any further and break my fast on Wednesday.
Felt sad initially, but still managed to do, what is known as "Attham" - which is fasting for 3 days only on boiled water and no food. Maybe this year, my limits were pushed just that much and at the end of the day felt glad having done whatever I could.
Like a child, with no exaggeration, I literally used to have dreams about the following things which came with wings attached to them, went right past my nose and drifted away during those 3 eventful days of fasting:
Taco Bell's - Grilled Stuff Burrito with Halapeno Sauce
Naan n Curry - Malai Paneer
Chinese food from Temptations (Mountain View)
Drunken Noodles and Spicy Fried Rice from Sala Thai (Fremont)
Pani Puri, Chaats from every damn road-side cart vendor
Animal Style Burger from In n Out (With Extra Cheese)
Of-course all the Jain food that Dipali used to cook ...
And much much more ...
The first morsel of food on Wednesday morning tasted like heaven. Everyone told to take it lightly as I was just coming off 3 days of no food and need my system to adjust to it, and so I did take it lightly as I just managed to eat about 3 regular bowls of beans, approximately 5-6 Puris, some rice, some sweets, one bowl of curd and boondi, 3-4 Parathas with approximately two bowls of Garbanzo beans ... lol ;-)
With this experience, let me take this opportunity to e-wish each and everyone out there in my surrounding, near and far, to grant me forgiveness, as I come before you with my folded hands, to wish you all "Micchami Dukkadam".
"If I have caused you offence in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness".