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Introduction:

Jainism is one of the world’s oldest religions and originated in India, where the majority of its followers still live today. 

Beliefs and practices:

Jainism does not believe in a creator God, but it does believe in many Gods who are the self-realised individuals who have attained enlightenment.  Jainism believes that all living things (animals and plants) have souls and are of equal value.

Sub-divisions:

There are two principal sects of Jainism: the Swetambaras (whose monks wear white clothes) and the Digambaras (whose monks are sky clad).

Scriptures:

The Jain agamas are the main scriptures of Jainism.

Festivals

Fasting is very important part of the Jains tradition.  Most Jains fast during Holy Days and Festivals; some Jains choose fasting at other times in order to purify or to assist in their spiritual development.  This ritual can vary from giving up food and drink entirely to only giving up favourite foods.  Many Jains choose to fast when their death is approaching so that they may purify their thoughts in the preceding moments to their death.

• Mahavira Jayanti – Occurs around March/April.  A celebration of the birth of Mahavira (the founder of Jainism).  Celebrations include community worship, processions, and other devotional and spiritual activities.
• Paryushana – Occurs in August/September.  Considered by some to be the most important festival in Jainism.  All Jains are required to fast and the spiritual preceptors read out and explain in detail the Kalpasutra (sacred scripture).  The first seven days of the festival are days of attainment, and the eighth and final day is one of fulfilment and achievement.
• Diwali – Occurs in October/November.  The whole night of Diwali should be spent in the recitation of holy hymns and meditation.  Svetambara Jains believe that on the night of the day of Diwali in 537 BCE, Mahavira achieved Nirvan, or deliverance and attained to a state of absolute bliss.  The day after Diwali marks the beginning of the New Year in their calendar.
• Kartak Purnima – Occurs in October/November.  Thousands of Jains go on pilgrimages on this day to sacred Jain sites.
• Mauna Agyaras – Occurs around November/December.  This is the day on which Jains fast and observe total silence.  It is a day for meditation.

Dietary Requirements

Forbidden ingredients include meat, fish, eggs, honey and figs.
Strict Jains do not eat root vegetables, garlic, onions
All foods that might have meat, fish and eggs are also forbidden.

Dress Code

There are no religious laws governing specific dress code.

Bereavement

Cremation will take place as soon as practical after death (usually three to five days).  There is not specified mourning period and normal compassionate leave arrangement will suffice.

Manchester Contacts:

 Jain Community centre in Longsight