Mahavir Jayanti 2021
One of the most important festivals of the Jain community, the Mahavir Jayanti celebrates the birth of Lord Mahavira, the twenty-fourth Tirthankara in Jainism. The festival is always conducted without any grand celebration or extravaganza with respect to the principles of Jainism. The worship rituals are also not very elaborate since their leader did not believe in any idol worship. Mahavir Jayanti 2021 will be celebrated on 25th April.
A Brief History
According to the religious scripts and Jain texts, Lord Mahavira was born on the Chaitra month on the 13th day of the waxing moon in Kundalagrama, Bihar, which is just a few kilometers away from Patna. During those days, the capital of the state was considered to be Vaishali.
However, there is still a dispute in the year of his birth. According to the Digambar Jains, he was born in 615 BC while the Shwetambar Jains consider it to be on 566 BC. Mahavira was given the name Vardhaman by his parents, Queen Trishala and King Siddhartha.
Based on the beliefs of the Shwetambar community, the mother of Mahavira has 14 dreams. This was later interpreted by many astrologers of the time who believed that he would either go on to become a sage (Tirthankara) or become a great emperor. When Mahavira became 30 years old, he left his family and throne in search of truth and lived 12 years in exile as an ascetic.
He preached non-violence during his time and treated every person with reverence. People gave him the name “Mahavira” after they observed his incredible skills of sense-controlling. The followers believe that he attained enlightenment (nirvana) at the age of 72. Mahavir Jayanti is to celebrate the birth of Mahavira.
Celebration and Rituals
The Jain communities all over the world celebrate Mahavir Jayanti. Although the community believes in avoiding grandiosity and embracing simplicity, there are a few significant ceremonies that are performed on this day.
One of the most important traditions on Mahavir Jayanti is to visit many temples and Tirthankar statues. Processions with the images and pictures of Mahavira are held. Temples also conduct various pujas to honor Mahavira with rice, fruits, flowers, and milk. There are a few places where his messages and core values are taught. Some believers also fast on Mahavir Jayanti.
Several Jain temples can be visited during the Mahavir Jayanti 2021. Some of the most famous destinations for Mahavir Jayanti 2021 are:
- Ellora Caves Maharashtra: Famous for its rock-cut temples, the Ellora caves are one of the best places to demonstrate the religious essence of Jainism between the 5th and 10th centuries. These caves are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India and are a world heritage site.
- Palitana Temples, Gujarat: Located on the Mount Shatrunjaya, the Jain community considers the Palitana Temple to be one of the holiest pilgrim sites. The temple is very ancient as it goes back to the 11th and 16th centuries. These temples are about 160 kilometers away from Rajkot and 220 kilometers away from Ahmedabad.
- Saavira Kambada Basadi, Karnataka: This temple was built during the 15th century by the King Devaraya Wodeyar of the kingdom Vijayanagara. The temple is very popular because of the presence of 1000 pillars. It is situated in Moodabidri, a town that has around 18 shrines. Amongst these 18 Jain temples, the Saavira Kambada Basadi temple is considered to be the most popular and beautiful one. The complex is around 30 kilometers away from Mangalore and 350 kilometers away from Bangalore (Bengaluru).
- Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Odisha: These caves are considered to be one of the oldest Jain masterpieces of the world that has many rock-cut statues and several inscriptions. It is about 10 kilometers away from the capital city, Bhubaneswar. It has 15 caves in Khandagiri and 18 in Udayagiri, with a total of 33 caves.
- Ranakpur Temples, Rajasthan: Considered to be one of the largest and most remarkable Jain temples, the Ranakpur temple is an exceptional masterpiece housing intricate artworks along with 80 domes, 24 pillared halls, and about 400 columns. It was built during the 15th century, and the construction work took about 65 years to complete. The temple is only 95 kilometers away from Udaipur and is a great place to visit for Mahavir Jayanti.
However, to curb the spread of Coronavirus, people are requested to follow all precautionary measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic while visiting any of the temples during Mahavir Jayanti and maintain social distancing.
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