Today is Samvatsari, the last of the eight day Paryushan of the Jains. The day of forgiving. A beautiful concept, indeed. Ask for forgiveness from anyone you have hurt during the past year, repent for the sins committed in the past year and forgive anyone who has hurt you in the past year. The caveat of course, is all this has to be genuine!
I have always found asking for forgiveness easier than forgiving someone who has hurt me. Forgiving someone who has caused me harm or bothered me is really a difficult thing to do. It is easier to go up to someone whom I have harmed and say "Sorry". It is more difficult to erase the bitterness from my own mind due to someone else's actions.
As with many other practices in the Jain tradition, and other religions as well, this act of forgiving and asking for forgiveness has now become more of a social greeting. Ideally, I must think about who all I have hurt and who has hurt me and clean my mind of the latter and have a frank chat with the former. This rarely happens. Instead, after the ritual pratikraman, everyone goes about greeting everyone else with the 'Micchami Dukkadam'. There are people whom I meet and greet only that time of the year. People with whom I have had no other conversation or interaction and yet I ask them for forgiveness. Really meaningless!
I must practice the true essence of Paryushan and Samvatsari by introspection and then genuinely forgiving and asking for forgiveness. Only then will the true benefit of this tradition reach me.