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Marked with fasting and prayers, Mahavir Jayanti is the most important festival and religious holiday of the Jain community. This year, in 2020, the festival will be celebrated on April 6. Also popular as Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, on this day, the birthday of Lord Mahavira, who was the 24th and the Tirthankara, is celebrated.

This festival falls either in the month of March or April, every year, as per the Gregorian calendar. Going by the Jain texts, Lord Mahavira was born in 599 BCE in the Chaitra month on the 13th day of the bright half of the moon. However, his date of birth is subject of debate between the two sects of Jainism – Digambaras and Svetambaras. While the latter claim that he was born in 599 BC, the former believe it was in 615 BC that he took birth.

The spiritual successor of Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara, according to the Jain traditions, he was born in a royal Kshatriya family in the present-day Vaishali district of Bihar. At the age of 30, he became an ascetic and left all the materialistic possessions, including his home, in the lookout of spiritual awakening.

Also Read: A festival celebrated honouring the Lord of Goa, St. Francis Xavier

Lord Mahavira then practised severe austerities and intense meditation for over 10 years, successfully attaining Kevala Jnana, which is omniscience in Jainism. After making the world a better place with his preaching for 30 long years, in the 6th century BC, he attained Moksha or salvation.

History of Mahavir Jayanti

Legend has it that all the necessary qualities of a Tirthankara were acquired by the Lord in his previous birth only. It is said that 6 months ahead of his birth, the supreme powers, in collaboration, created an atmosphere apt for his birth and also came down on Earth to bless his mother.

To eliminate poverty and make the world a better place, prior to Lord Mahavira birth, wealth was showered too from heaven.

The Lord was then born at 4 am, a time which is considered to be auspicious in both the religions – Hindu as well as Jainism. Before the 24th Tirthankara was born, his mother saw 16 dreams. Here they are with their significance.

  1. White Elephant. A woman to give birth to a child with high moral values
  2. Lion. The one with leadership qualities
  3. Goddess Lakshmi. Prosperity and wealth
  4. Full Moon. Support and peace
  5. Pair of Jumping Fish. One with an attractive appearance
  6. Sun. Supreme knowledge
  7. Lake with a Lot of Lotus Flowers. The one with compassionate nature 
  8. Celestial Palace. Spirituality
  9. Throne Made of Diamonds and Rubies. The person will become a world teacher
  10. Garland. Popularity & admiration from the society
  11. Bull. Signifying the birth of a religious teacher to spread peace and knowledge
  12. Mandara Flowers. Politeness and Softness
  13. Golden Pot. Signifying wealth
  14. A Gems-Filled Vessel. Wisdom and virtues
  15. Rough Ocean. Attaining achievement beyond expectations
  16. Residence of Nagendra. A child born with clairvoyance

It is said, that soon after his birth, all the three worlds of the Universe were content and cheerful. Many of the gods and goddesses even visited him on earth on his birth, naming him (Samvati, Ativira, Mahavira, Vir, and Vardhaman) and bathing him ceremonially.

After meditating for 12 years under an Ashok Tree, he attained enlightenment after which the gods, in a palanquin, took him to a park where he was seated on a five-tiered throne and came to be known as Mahavira.

According to the folklore, he then removed all his clothes and tore his hair off from the roots. This part also is a bit disputed as the Digambaras believe that Mahavira wore no clothes after he took over the throne, but Svetambaras, on the other hand, believe that Lord Indra did present Lord Mahavira with a robe, white in colour.

In his life, after attaining enlightenment, he prohibited any sort of killing, preaching non-violence. On Lord Mahavira’s birth anniversary, every year, the Jain community not just celebrates it but also ensures bringing into practice all his teachings.

Major Attractions of Mahavir Jayanti 2020

  1. The Rituals that Follow. On this day, fast is observed throughout the day and the puja room of the house is decorated with flowers. The followers of Jainism then visit temples to witness the grandness of the day. In many households, the idol of Lord Mahaveera is also given a ceremonial bath and is then offered milk, fruits, and rice.
  2. Going Through the Teachings. The philosophy of Lord Mahavira on ethics, core values and spiritual freedom is then preached. Poor are given food, money as well as clothing, and kheer is prepared and served at home.
  3. Visiting Temples. Across the nation several temples are built for Lord Mahavira, the most famous being – Dilwara Temples and Ranakpur Temple in Rajasthan, Gomateshwara Temple in Karnataka, Palitana Temples in Gujarat, Khajuraho Temples in Madhya Pradesh and last but not the least, Mahavirswami Jain Water Temple in Bihar.

How to Reach

While there are several temples in the whole of India and abroad, dedicated to Lord Mahavira, you would be surprised to know that there is none in his birthplace, Vaishali, a district in the state of Bihar. However, there is a small place in Vaishali where a signboard will tell you that this is where the God was born. It is said that the temple is being made there which is still an unfinished project, courtesy it being in dispute.

Apart from being the birthplace of Lord Mahavira and Jainism, Vaishali has a vast history and if you want to witness the vastness of the same then here’s how you can reach this small city in Bihar.

The district of Vaishali is nearly 1,048, 2,118, 1,876, 639 km away from Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata respectively. If you want to save time and money is not a barrier, then you can pick the airway option.

The nearest airport from Vaishali would be the Jay Prakash Narayan Airport, also known as the Patna Airport. After deboarding, you can take a cab or other means of public transport to cover the remaining distance of 64 km. 

Visiting Vaishali via train is also an affordable and feasible option, the nearest railway station being Hajipur which is approximately 2-4 km from Vaishali. Maximum Indian cities would have direct trains from their cities to Hajipur, even if they don’t, fret not, as you can take a train until Patna as well and then use public transport to reach here.

Depending upon your location you can also plan a trip to Vaishali by road, too. For this, you can either take your own vehicle or may even choose a bus.

You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here

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  • Bihar
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    06 April 2020

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