Sometime between August and October followers of Jainism partake in Paryushana. A lot of the ‘younger’ folk don’t fully understand what we are supposed to do or why. Hopefully this should explain some of it
Michchhami Dukkadam is usually said when we ask for forgiveness. People do this as a normal thing after the Paryushana festival.
Traditionally, it is said on the day of Samvatsari which is the last day of Paryushana. There is some debate over whether it means more to say it before Samvatsari, rather than, waiting for the day itself.
Also Samvatsari can be on different days for different communities. For example this year, it is today (Sunday 23rd August 2009) for the Oshwal community whereas it is tomorrow for the Navnat community. I think this is due to the two main sects in Jainism. These are Deravasi and Sthanakvasi. In India they start Paryushana on different days. There is a difference of one day. Thus it ends one day before or after the other.
So now getting back to the meaning of Michchhami Dukkadam
Michchhami comes from two words Michchha and Mi meaning futile/useless and my/mine
Dukkadam means bad deeds
So the whole meaning is ‘May my bad deeds (faults) become futile. In other words ‘please forgive me.’
In the Swetambaras an 8-day festival is celebrated that ends Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami. The last day is called Samvatsari, short for Samvatsari Pratikramana. Seven days are days of attainment and the eighth day is one of fulfilment or achievement. It is at this time that we embark on our respective annual pratikramana – a reflection on our spiritual journey for the past year. On this day we also observe a unique custom, where we ask every individual they may have offended during the year for forgiveness. Old quarrels are forgotten and friendships and relationships renewed, as we fold our hands and ask for “Michhami Dukkadam” or forgiveness. Michhami means to be fruitless (forgiven) and Dukkadam (Dushkrut) means bad deeds. Therefore the meaning of Michhami Dukkadam is my bad deeds (with you) be fruitless. So concept behind saying or writing someone “Michhami Dukkadam” is that ‘if I have done any harm to you then those bad deeds to be forgiven (be fruitless)’.
Further info: -
Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami:-
Bhadrapada (or Bhadaravo in Gujarati) is the 11th (penultimate) month in Indian calendar and Shukla means white. Here it means first half of the month (Indian months have 1 to 15 dates twice. bright half and dark half. Not 1 to 30 dates).
Panchami is the fifth day (it is wrong. It should be Choth = fourth day)
So the whole meaning of Bhadrapada shukla Panchami is 5th day of the first (bright) half of the month Bhadravo. (As I said it should fourth day)
Pratikraman is a systematic ritual of repentance and begging forgiveness.
This information was given to my by Vinodbhai Kapashi and an unknown source