History / Significance
Mahavir Jain was born in the 5th century B.C. He was born in a palace of
Vaishali to King Siddhartha and Queen Trisala. During the pregnancy, the
queen is said to have had dreams of auspicious nature. The number of
dreams varies in belief of each sect. After running his kingdom
faithfully till 30 years of his age, the great saint gave up all
luxuries and comforts of palace for penance.
For twelve long years the saint had been under penance. At this time he
was enlightened. He was known to be the 24th and the last tirthankara to
have received enlightenment. He gave up all redundancies of life. He
would eat on his palms refusing to use a plate. He also gave up wearing
clothes. Getting rid of these rudimentary materials he focused on the
real things and the real meaning of life. He preached the importance of
truth and non-violence along with the message of not owning anything and
not stealing. He later formulated all his teachings into a religion that
he names Jainism.
Celebrations And Rituals
The festival is celebrated throughout the country among Jain
communities. Although they believe in simplicity and avoid grandiosity,
there are some significant ceremonies that they uphold. One of the most
significant traditions of this day is the visit to various tirthankar
statues and temples.
There are processions with pictures and images of Mahavir. The temples
have varied pujas to honor the statue of Mahavir by flowers, rice,
fruits and abhishek it with milk. There are places of gathering or
temples where the core values and message of Mahavira is preached. Some
places his life history is also told. Some of the believers also observe
a fast on this day. Kheer is prepared in most houses as a sweet dish.
Lord Mahavira, as it is believed in Jainism was born somewhere around
the 5th century B.C. His birth date according to Lunar calendar is on
the thirteenth day of the month of rising moon called Chaitr. According
to the Gregorian calendar it falls somewhere in the month of April. The
most important places of celebration of Mahavir Jayanti are Gujarat and
Rajasthan. Gujarat is said to have to maximum number of Jain shrines.
They are also the states where highest numbers of Jains reside.
In India, Gujarat holds the biggest fair for this festival. Palitana and
Girnar are some of the most significant places of worship of the state.
Yet Vaishali, in Bihar, being the birth place of Mahavir, has its own
importance and also celebrates this Jayanti significantly.