Mahamastakabhisheka is a Jain Festival cum anointment ceremony of Bahubali’s (Son of Bhagwan Rishabhdeva, the first Jain Tirthankara) statue at Shravanbelgola in Karnataka. The festival is celebrated primarily by the Jain community every 12 years.
The last anointing ceremony took place in February 2018 and the next will be held in February 2030. The Bahubali statue around which the ceremonies take place is also known as Gomateshwara statue and is visited by Jain devotees and tourists in general from around the world.
History of Mahamastakabhisheka Festival
As demonstrated by the legend, Bahubali was the child of Bhagwan Rishabhadeva. Right when Rishabhadeva wound up an austere, he left his things, place and divided his property between his two kids Bahubali and Bharata. While Vinita (Ayodhya) was given to Bharata, Bahubali got the kingdom of Podanpur (Taxila).
In spite of the fact that Bharata had his very own kingdom, he started envying his brother, as Podanpur was booming all around. So he fought his kin to vanquish Podanpur. In the battle, the annoyed Bharata threw a chariot wheel at Bahubali, which didn't impact him as a result of its divine powers.
He at that point chose to follow his father's path by denying his property. As per the folklore, Bahubali stood there and meditated for several years in standing position and attained salvation. Since then the locals started constructing the statue of Bahubali for Mahamastakabhisheka.
Major Attractions of Mahamastakabhisheka Festival in Karnataka
1. Tallest Monolithic Statue. The idol of Bahubali in Shravanbelgola is known to be one of the tallest monolithic structures in the world. This 57 feet granite statue is believed to have been carved and built in 983 AD by Chamunda-Raya, the ruler of the Ganga dynasty.
2. Rituals of the Anointment Ceremony. On this occasion, the statue of Bahubali is bathed and purified with water sandalwood paste, flowers, turmeric, milk, vermilion, and sugarcane juice. Devotees walk up the side structures to reach the top of the idol and offer flowers. Besides flowers and edible items, people also offer silver and gold coins as a mark of respect. A parade is also carried out from Bhagavan Chandranath Swami Basadi to Ratnagiri.
3. 1008 Vessels. The Mahamastakabhisheka of Bahubali is done with 1,008 kalashas. The volunteers then use these vessels to distribute the prasad or god’s offerings amongst the devotees and visitors.
How to Reach
Shravanabelagola is a town that holds religious and historical significance. An interesting fact about this place is that the founder of the Mauryan Empire Chandragupta Maurya came here after handing over his empire to his son Bindusara. Shravanabelgola is a holy place for the Jain community in the country. The town has a good transportation structure which makes it easily accessible from different cities and states. From Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru the town is nearly 2300 via NH 44, 940 via NH 48, 2000 via NH 16 and 150 via NH 75 respectively.
By Road. Shravanbelagola is well connected via road networks hence people may consider travelling by road. One option is to get on an inter-state tourist bus to reach the holy site and the other is to drive to the place in your personal vehicle. From Coimbatore, you are required to cover approx. 285 km via NH 150A, from Mysuru nearly 85 km via SH47 and NH150A, and from Halebeedu approx. 80km via SH 21 and NH 75.
By Rail. Shravanabelagola Railway Station is where you have to deboard the train to visit the popular Shravanbelagola Temple. The station is nearly 4km away from the town and after deboarding the train one can either take a taxi or get on a local bus to reach the town. Trains from all parts of the country arrive here hence you may consider travelling by train if looking for a budget-friendly travel option.
There are no direct trains from Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata to Shravanbelagola hence you have to travel via connecting trains. The best way is to reach Bengaluru Cant, Bengaluru East or KSR Bengaluru station and from there take Intercity Express, Kannur Express, Karwar Express, or Sur Hasan Express to reach the town.
By Air. Bengaluru International Airport is the nearest to reach the town. Flights from all the major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru arrive here. If you are coming from Delhi or Mumbai then you may travel by Vistara, Air India, SpiceJet, IndiGo, GoAir, and Air Asia as they run non-stop flights to Bengaluru. From Kolkata, you have SpiceJet, IndiGo, AirAsia and Air India in the bucket to choose from if looking for non-stop flights. From the airport, one can either hire a taxi or get on a local bus to reach the town which is approximately 170km away.