Paryushan 2023: Types Of Food To Eat And Avoid For The Festival

In India, festivals and food are closely intertwined, enhancing the bonds of happiness and unity on every occasion. One such significant festival is Paryushan Parva, which holds great importance among the Jain community. This year it falls between the 12th and 20th of September 2023 and is set to be time of peace, fasting and prayer for people of the Jain community all over the world.

The Significance Of Paryushan

According to the Hindu calendar, Paryushana Parv is observed during the Shukla Paksha of the Bhadrapad month. Paryushana stands as the most significant Jain religious observance in the yearly calendar. Both Shvetambaras, who observe this festival for eight days, and Digambaras, who extend it to ten days, engage in a period of concentrated study, contemplation, and inner purification. This sacred event unfolds during the monsoon season in India, a time when Jain monks and nuns halt their usual travelling lifestyle and settle within a community. The term "Paryushan" itself conveys the idea of "abiding" or "coming together." During this period, the monastic members resided within the community, offering spiritual guidance and teachings to their disciples.

Video Credits: My Jain Recipes/YouTube

During Paryushana, most Jains undertake temporary vows to study and fast, fostering a spiritual connection with their religion. The culmination of Paryushana involves a time of confession and forgiveness, where individuals are absolved of any transgressions from the previous year.

Both sects within the Jain community approach this festival with great enthusiasm and a deep sense of spirituality. Paryushan Parv commences with fasting and prayers, lasting eight days for the Shvetambara sect and ten days for the Digambara sect. Interestingly, despite the fasting, food and feasting still play a significant role in this Jain festival. The culinary practices during this period are not only delightful but also showcase a remarkable culinary heritage with a minimalist touch.

What Do People Eat On Paryushan

Though at its core, Paryushan is a time of ritual fasting, there are varying levels of how people approach their diet during this time. Some forgo food for the whole duration of the festival, only drinking boiled water as sustenance – a practice known as athai

Others avoid things like green leafy vegetables, fruits – especially lemons – and refined flour as well. And as they do all year round, root and underground vegetables are avoided completely. During this time, milk and milk products, rice, lentils, cereals, and pulses take precedence in Paryushan recipes. The only clear rule is that meals should be consumed between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Since Paryushan primarily serves as a means to cleanse the soul, the food during this period remains simple, with many individuals mindful of their intake.

What To Eat And Avoid During Paryushan

The preferences and food habits during this time vary between families and are shaped depending on peoples’ individual capacities, however, the overall aim is to do as little harm as possible to plant life.

Here’s a quick run down of what is generally allowed during the festival and what you should avoid.


  • Dairy Products: Milk, dahi, cheese, paneer, cream
  • Grains: rice, quinoa, poha, sabudana, whole wheat flour, bajra flour, oats, couscous
  • Lentils: Red lentils, french lentils, urad daal, toor daal, and chana dal
  • Beans: mung beans, kidney beans, black eyes peas, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans
  • Spices: dried curry leaves, dried chilis, a variety of Indian spices, dried ginger, salt, pepper
  • Acids: dried limes, dried ground limes, kokum, amchoor


  • Underground vegetables: Potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots 
  • Fresh Fruits: Lemons, apples, oranges, bananas
  • Fresh Vegetables: Spinach, coriander, spinach, methi, cabbage
  • Pulses and Dairy: Mixing pulses (kathor) with raw milk or dahi is not allowed
  • Refined Flour