Mahavir Jayanti is the sacred festival
commemorating the birth of Vardhamana Mahavir, one of the greatest Jain
prophets. Annually observed all over India, the occassion witnesses
sacred ceremonies as well as festive celebrations. Scroll down and read
about Mahavir Jayanti, the festival, and its observance across the
country . To share this article with your friends and dear ones, just
clicking here. Happy Mahavir Jayanti!
Founded in the 6th century BC, Jainism is one of the most significant
religions of the world. The foundation and formation of the religion rested
on twenty-four prophets (Tirthankaras) who arrived in the world to deliver
the message of peace and tolerance to the people of the world and show the
path of spiritual liberation to the vast majority blinded by the darkness
arising out of their extreme attachment to the physical world. The last of
these great men was Vardhamana Mahavir. In his name is dedicated Mahavir
Jayanti, the most important religious holiday in Jainism.
According to the Hindu calendar, Mahavir Jayanti falls on the 13th day of
the bright fortnight of the Chaitra month. This corresponds to sometime
between late March or early April as per the Gregorian calendar.
Mahavir Jayanti is widely celebrated in places all over the world wherever
there is a presence of the
Jain community. In India, the holiday is celebrated at Jain Temples
throughout the country. The festival is more enthusiastically observed in
states like Rajasthan and Gujarat, where a higher numbers of Jains are
present. In Gujarat, pious Jains from all parts of the country flock to
visit the ancient Jain shrines located at Girnar and Palitana. In Rajasthan,
the shrine of Mahavirji is visited by thousands of devotees. Vaishali, the
birthplace of Lord Mahavir in Bihar, witnesses a grand celebration during
the occassion. Pawanpuri in Bihar and the Parasnath temple in Calcutta also
observes the day with great earnestness.
On the festive day, Jain temples all over the country are decorated with
flags to mark the birthday of Lord Mahavir. In the morning, the idol of
Lord Mahavir is given an 'abhishek' (ceremonial bath) in every temple.
Thereupon, the deity is placed in a cradle and carried in a parade
throughout the region of celebration. Sections of the Jain community take
part in the grand procession. The assembled devotees make offerings of milk,
rice, fruit, incense, lamps and water to the people in procession.
The nature of the procession varies from region to region but generally a
parade on this day includes drummers, horses, elephants and singers. At many
places, lecture-sessions are held to preach the path of virtue that Lord
Mahavir showed. Religious people use this day to meditate and offer
prayers. Donations are collected to save cows from slaughter. Depending on
the place, the procession ends at a temple, shrine or large communal area
where people may pray and meditate.
Four kinds of donations(daan) are recommended for every Jain on this day.
Gyan daan: Sharing of knowledge
Abhay daan: Protecting people from bad actions
Aushad daan: Donating medicines
Ahaar daan: Giving food
Mahavir Jayanti is also celebrated during the 8 day holy period of "Paryushan",
one of the most important festivals for the Jains. During this period,
passages from the life history of Lord Mahavir are read out from 'Kalpa
Sutra', the holy scripture containing biographies of Jain Tirthankars. Pomp
and festivities are not associated with this day; rather it is observed with
silent prayers and worship, in accordance with Saint Mahavir's teachings of
austerity and renunciation. While the rest of the Jain population organises
peaceful processions, Jain religious leaders spend this day in solitude. The
occasion sees children depicting various incidents from the life of Lord
All over the country, Mahavir Jayanti is generally considered an auspicious
occasion and observed with great solemnity.