President Joe Biden sent his best wishes to the Jain community around the world Sept. 19 to commemorate the Paryushan and Das Lakshan festivals.
“Jill and I send our best wishes to Jains in the U.S. and around the world who’ve concluded the festivals of Paryushan and Das Lakshan,” said the president in a message posted to his Facebook page.
“In this time for self-reflection and forgiveness, may we all find peace and reconciliation in our lives. Michhami Dukkadam and Uttam Kshama,” he wrote.
The phrase “Michchhami Dukkadam” means: “If I have done any harm to you, please forgive those bad deeds,” according to the Web site jainsite.com. “Uttam Kshama” means sincere apologies.
Vaibhav Jain, senior advisor for Outreach and Engagement at the AAPI Victory Fund, told India-West: “For the first time in history, a sitting U.S. president recognized the Jain festivals of Paryushan and Das Lakshan and issued a meaningful message for our community.”
Vaibhav Jain has annually participated in the 10-day fasting period during the holy days. This year, for the first time, his husband Parag Mehta, senior vice president at Mastercard, joined him in the fast.
“For nine days, we both did “ektanu,” taking water and (simple) food only once per day, in a single seating and just before sunset. For the final 36 hours, we had no food or water at all,” wrote Mehta on Facebook.
“I learned that being hungry is miserable. As I sat with my hunger over these ten days, I thought often about the people – including 17 million children here in the United States – for whom going without food is not a choice. It’s their reality. My stakes were low. I could have quit at any time and gone to the fridge. But for those who live in poverty, there is often no light at the end of the tunnel,” wrote Mehta.
More than 150,000 Jains live in the U.S., according to The Times of India.