Akshaya Tritiya is an important day for the Hindu community all over the world. But did you know that Akshaya Tritiya is just as significant for the Jain community as well?
The auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya is considered to be very holy to perform many things. People buy Gold on this day, as doing so invites prosperity and wealth into the household. Believers choose the day of Akshaya Tritiya to start a new venture to be sure that their venture finds financial success.
The Hindus conduct marriage ceremonies and house-warming functions on the Akshaya Tritiya day. In short, the Hindus believe that anything that starts on the Akshaya Tritiya will thrive, flourish and find success.
But the members of the Jain community also celebrate the day for a different and unique reason. The Hindus strongly condemn the ending of any kind of a fast on the Akshaya Tritiya day.
No matter which deity the Fast is dedicated to, Udyapan is not supposed to be done on Akshaya Tritiya. People go as far as calculating the days of the fast and starting it accordingly to make sure that it does not end on the Akshaya Tritiya day.
On the contrary, the Jains commemorate Akshaya Tritiya as the day on which their first Tirthankara broke his yearlong fast. Tirthankara are the teachers or the prophets of the Jain religion. They are the people who performed penance or followed the life of asceticism until they received enlightenment.
Story Associated With The Jain Akshaya Tritiya
Rishabhadeva was an ancient king who ruled the land with Ayodhya as its capital. When he realized his calling, he gave up all his wealth and worldly pleasures to guide the mankind into the righteous path. King Rishabhadeva became the first Tirthankara of the Jain community.
Read on to learn more about the association of the Jain community to the holy Akshaya Tritiya day.
The Story Of King Rishabhadeva
As a monk, Rishabhadeva realized that it was his duty to pave the way for the future digambaras and other Jains. As he was the first Jain, the people did not understand how to serve alms to the digambaras. They were not permitted to own anything, not even a morsel of grain. They had to live upon the alms provided by the general public.
To demonstrate this to his people, he started asking for alms. The people offered him gold, precious gems, expensive clothes and even daughters. But he refused them all. All he needed was some food but Rishabhadeva was too humble to ask for it specifically. This went on and Rishabhadeva went without food for a year.
It was only after King Shreyansa Kumar realized the need of Rishabha Kumar (due to purva bhava smarana) that Rishabhadeva could break his fast. He was offered some sugarcane juice by Shreyansa Kumar to quench his thirst. It was on the day of Akshaya Tritiya that the yearlong fast was broken. Therefore, this day is considered to be very holy by all the followers of the Jain Community.
Sugar cane is known as Ikshu in ancient language of Sanskrit and sugarcane is called Ikshu aahar. As Rishabhadeva ended his fast with 'Ikshu aahar', he became popular as Ikshvaku and his lineage and dynasty came to be known as Ikshvaku dynasty.
Establishment Of 'Ahara Charya'
It was on the Akshaya Tritiya day that Rishabhadeva established 'Ahara Charya'. Ahara Charya is the method that is prescribed to prepare and serve the food offered to the Jain monks.
Many people of the Jain community observe the 'Varshi Tap' which is a yearlong alternative day fasting. This fasting is concluded on the Akshaya Tritiya day. The fast is broken by drinking sugarcane juice like the first Tirthankara Rishabhadeva had done ages ago.
Fair At Hastinapur
Every year, a huge fair is conducted at Hastinapur where thousands of devotees arrive to break their fast. The ritual at which the Jains end their fast is called 'Parana'
Sugarcane is the most important offering that is given to the Tirthankara on the Akshaya Tritiya day. The rituals that are offered to the Tirthankara always contain sugarcane juice.