Today is the holiest day of the year for Jains and is called Samvatsari. As the culminating day of an eight or ten day festival, known as Paryushana, Jains devote the day to prayer, meditation and fasting. In addition they ask for forgiveness for any harm they may have caused, and send the following message to all friends and relatives. Nowadays, with the internet, this is easily conveyed by email and I have received two messages today which show the sort of wording that is used:
Forgiveness is the jewel of the brave. It takes a big heart to forgive.
We request your forgiveness for any act of omission or commission, by thought, word or deed, that may have hurt you or your loved ones.
On this most auspicious festival of Samvatsari, we all humbly seek forgiveness for any actions, thought or speech by which we may have caused you any hurt or sadness. Please do forgive us. We all too forgive and forget, in return, sincerely.
A cynic might mock the idea of a sort of annual attempt at a bulk-clearing of bad karma, but I find this custom beautiful and touching. We sometimes hurt others inadvertently by saying or not saying something. Simply not replying to an email for ages can feel hurtful to someone, for example. So the idea of each year expressing our sincere intent that we wish no harm, and regret any that was caused, and also forgive others in turn, seems both spiritually and psychologically sensible and healthy. And so, On this most auspicious festival of Samvatsari, I humbly seek forgiveness for any actions, thought or speech by which I may have caused you any hurt or sadness. Please do forgive me. I too forgive and forget, in return, sincerely.