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Mahavir Jayanti or Mahavir Janma Kalyanak is one very important day of the year for all the followers of Jainism. It is celebrated in commemoration of the birth of Mahavir, the last of the twenty-four Tirthankara (Jain prophets).
About Lord Mahavir
As consistently confirmed by the beliefs in Jainism, Mahavir (also known as Vardhamana) was born in 599 BCE to King Siddhartha and his wife Trishala. King Siddhartha was the ruler of Kaundinyapura, which is located on the outskirts of Vaishali near Patna in Bihar. Both King and his wife were highly committed followers of the principles of Jainism. Before he was born, Trishala used to have several auspicious dreams during her sleep which indicated towards the arrival of a great soul through her womb. They also indicated that the child would grow up to be a great leader and an emperor or a Tirthankara. According to some very faithful beliefs in Jainism, Lord Indra (the king of deities) himself showered upon celestial milk on Mahavir on his birth, thus, officially marking him as a Tirthankara.
From an early age itself, Mahavir showed signs of greatness. His fearless attitude derived him with the name of ‘Mahavir’ which means ‘the greatest powerful’. As he grew up and came out of the shadows of a princely life, he came across some bitter truths of life, which made him realized about how people have been misguided about Dharma, how animal sacrifice is taking place on the name of religion, and how superstition have overpowered spirituality. That brought a profound change in him which further asserted him to bring a change around. He renounced his throne at the age of 30 and started his journey of twelve years to live as an ascetic. During his life, he worked a lot in order to spread the message of peace, and in order to raise awareness about the true essence of life and virtue. He took some revolutionary steps in order to bring positive social reformation. At the age of 72, he attained Nirvana.
Time of Celebration
According to Hindu calendar, this festival is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the rising Moon of the month of Chaitra. According to Georgian calendar, it usually falls either in the month of March or April.
Rituals and Celebrations
Gujarat and Rajasthan are the places with most considerable number of followers of Jainism living in. Therefore, major celebrations on the festive day can be experienced here.
1. As a part of the celebration for Mahavir Jayanti, statues of Mahavir, no matter how big or small, are worshipped by performing a coronation process, locally referred as ‘Abhishek’. This is something which is followed all across the globe by all the followers of Jainism. Other than that, Jain temples are also adorned with flags.
2. Most of the devotees prefer to make a visit to Jain temples, situated locally. They participate in discourse session, offer prayers to Mahavir, and meditate over him. In discourse sessions, legends from the life of Mahavir are shared with those present, and are thus made to understand the essence of following those same principles as followed by him in his life.
3. It is considered as extremely auspicious and positive to engage in some or other sort of charitable act on this day, on the name of Lord Mahavir. Therefore, many devotees decisively engage in generous acts. Many donate for charitable causes which are directed towards promoting missions such as saving cows, helping poor, etc.
4. Some people in big groups or communities carry out grand processions, which have chariots, chanters, drummers, and elephants participating in it and contributing to its magnificence. Also, a beautifully decorated cradle with a statue of Mahavir in it is also taken along all through the procession.
5. On the day, traditional recipes are prepared and consumed.
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