Marked with fasting and prayers, Mahavir Jayanti is the most important festival and religious holiday of the Jain community. Also popular as Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, on this day, the birthday of Lord Mahavira, who was the 24th, and the Tirthankara, is celebrated.
The spiritual successor of Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara, according to the Jain traditions, 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 worldly possessions, including his home, on the lookout for a spiritual awakening.
Lord Mahavira then practiced severe austerities and intense meditation for over ten 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 Mahaveer 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 six 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's 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 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 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 color.
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.
Date, Time, and Venue of Mahavir Jayanti
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 the 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. Mahavir Jayanti Festival is celebrated all over the world by the followers of the Jain religion. Vaishali being the birthplace of Lord Mahavir experiences large-scale celebrations with grand processions taken out by the followers.
Major Attractions Of Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir Jayanti is a sacred festival celebrated all over the world in a grand way. Huge processions are taken out that include horses, elephants, chariots, chanters, and drummers. Jain monks give sermons that talk about principles of Jain religion as laid down by Lord Mahavira. Followers pray to the Lord for his guidance and blessings. Have a look at the major attractions of the Mahavir Jayanti Festival.
1. The Rituals that Follow
On Mahavir Jayanti, a 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, and 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 least, Mahavirswami Jain Water Temple in Bihar.
How To Reach Vaishali for Mahavir Jayanti Festival
Vaishali, the birthplace of Lord Mahavira witnesses Mahavir Jayanti celebrations on a grand scale. A large number of devotees gather here to remember the Lord’s teachings. Since it is a major Jain religion site, it is easily accessible through diverse modes of transport. To visit here, check out the details given below.
By Air. 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.
By Train. 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.
By Road. 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 (government or private). Otherwise, you can also take a taxi to reach here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mahavir Jayanti
Q 1. Why is Mahavir Jayanti celebrated?
A 1. Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated with utmost devotion to observe harmony and peace. On this day, teachings of Lord Mahavira are spread amongst his followers as sermons.
Q 2. What is Mahavir Jayanti?
A 2. Marked with fasting and prayers, Mahavir Jayanti is the most important festival and religious holiday of the Jain community. Also popular as Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, on this day, the birthday of Lord Mahavira, who was the 24th, and the Tirthankara, is celebrated.
Q 3. How is Mahavir Jayanti celebrated?
A 3. Mahavir Jayanti is a sacred festival celebrated all over the world in a grand way. Huge processions are taken out that include horses, elephants, chariots, chanters, and drummers. Jain monks give sermons that talk about principles of Jain religion as laid down by Lord Mahavira.
Q 4. Who is the father of Jainism?
A 4. Lord Mahavira is the father of Jainism.
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