Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) and Jainism
Apart from the Hindus, members of the Jain community also consider Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) as an important day. Jains follow the Indian religion of Jainism that prescribes an attitude of non-violence towards all living beings. It also emphasizes incessant striving in order to conquer the self and to move the soul towards the divine.
The story behind the community’s association with Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) dates back to Rshabhdeva, an old king of Ayodhya who became the first Jain Tirthankara. Tirthankara refers to a Jain teacher who has acquired enlightenment through asceticism.
Rshabhdeva gave up all earthly pleasures to lead the life of a Jain monk. In order to live as a Jain monk, one must not possess anything – not even a morsel of food. The Jain monk does not cook and eats only what he gets from begging. When King Rshabhdeva started begging, his subjects offered him their most prized possessions like precious stones, elephants, horses – even their daughters – but not food or drink which they thought was too modest an offering for their dear king.
The king refused all the fine gifts and went without food and water until, finally, his grandson Shreyansha Kumara understood his urgent need and offered him some sugarcane juice. With this juice, Rshabhdeva broke his fast that lasted a whole year.
It was on Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) day that Rshabhdeva broke his fast. The day is still observed by many Jains who end their year-long alternative-day fasting with sugarcane on this day.