Primary Current Assemblies
(20–28 September, a movable festival)
To consider the Jain festival of Paryushan.
Preparation and materials
Objects that indicate different types of weather. For example:
sunglasses, bucket and spade
umbrella, rainwear (mac, rain hat)
hat and scarf, gloves
- The school motto on a whiteboard or PowerPoint.
- Hold up each of the objects above and ask the children to suggest in what sort of weather the objects would be used.
Ask children to come to the front and hold each item by their side. Explain that you are going to play a game where you list different weather types and, as you speak, you want the children to make the appropriate action with their props. For example:
– if you shout ‘sun’, one child puts on sunglasses and another child pretends to dig in the sand and fill up the bucket;
– if you shout ‘snow’, one child pulls on the wellies and another pretends to sledge;
– if you shout ‘rain’, one child puts up the umbrella and another puts on a rain hat or mac;
– if you shout ‘wind’, one child blows the windmill to make it go round while another flies the kite;
– if you shout ‘frost’, one child puts on the hat and scarf and another gloves.
Repeat the weather words in different orders so the children have to make their responses quickly. Ask all the other children to do the actions at the same time as those at the front.
You may like to ask another child to call out the weather words instead of you.
- Ask the children if any of them have heard of the ‘rainy season’. Explain that whereas in this country it can rain at any time of the year, some parts of the world have heavy rainfall for a few weeks or months while the rest of the year is dry.
Ask if the children can think of any problems that a rainy season could cause. (Usual problems are flooding, house being washed away, crops destroyed and, in the dry season, drought and famine.)
- The Jain religion, which is mainly found in India (although there are now Jains in most countries of the world), has made special use of the rainy season.
In India, holy men and women spend most of their time travelling from place to place. During the rainy season travel is more difficult, so these teachers settle in a village or town for a few months. This means that while the rains last these holy people are available to instruct and guide ordinary people.
- In the middle of the rainy season Jains celebrate the festival of Paryushan, which lasts from eight to ten days. During this time Jains will often spend time fasting and meditating, and will visit the temples and shrines regularly to be taught by the holy men and women.
Most festivals we think about are noisy, colourful events. The festival of Paryushan is not like that. This festival is about looking at ourselves and finding inner peace.
By the end of the eight to ten days, it is hoped that Jains will be more pure; less bothered by material things (such as money, cars, clothes, food); and will be far happier than they had been.
- Ask the children if they know what a motto is. If you have a school motto make particular reference to this.
The Jains have a motto – ‘Live and let live’.
Ask the children what they think this means.
Explain that the festival of Paryushan aims to help Jains live their own lives with happiness and peace, and it also seeks to remind them that they must not judge other people. They must treat everybody with respect because each person is of great importance.
It is hoped that following the festival of Paryushan, rather than only pleasing themselves, Jains will try to make other people happy. It is a good motto for us all to follow.
Time for reflection
Think about the Jain motto: ‘Live and let live’.
How do we treat other people?
Are we kind to some and unkind to others?
Do we treat rich or important people differently from the way we treat someone who is poor or unpopular?
There may be someone you know who is different and who you find it difficult to like.
Spend a few minutes realizing that that person is special and try to think of a way in which you could make him or her happy today.
The following verse is learned by heart and recited during the festival of Paryushan. (The second version changes the words slightly to form a prayer.)
I grant forgiveness to all living beings.
May all living beings grant me forgiveness.
My friendship is with all living beings.
My enmity is totally non-existent.
Let there be peace, harmony, and prosperity for all.
please help me always to forgive.
I am sorry for the times that I have treated any living thing in a wrong way.
Please help me to treat living things well and with respect.
Help me to be at peace with all things.
Please let everyone learn to live in peace and harmony,
as this is better for the world.
‘One more step along the world’ (Come and Praise, 47)