» Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti

Category: Festival
Celebrated In: India in Spring Season
Celebrated By: Jain (Jainism)

Mahavir Jayanti, the most significant festivals of Jainism, is observed to celebrate the birth of Lord Mahavira. Mahavir is the twenty fourth and last tirthankara of Jainism. Popularly known as “Mahavir Janma Kalyanak”, the ‘Mahavir Jayanti’ is usually celebrated in the months of March or April. The celebration is mainly observed to revere Lord Mahavir by sanctifying his statues and offering prayers and meditation. Mahavir Jayanti is grandly observed in states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Karnataka, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh. Every year President, Vice President and Prime Minister greet people on the auspicious occasion and advocate to follow Bhagwan Mahavir’s values of peace, non violence and harmony.

Rituals of Mahavir Jayanti:

Followers of Jainism every year observe this holy festival by chanting prayers, visiting temples, offering prasad and carrying out processions. Food and clothes are donated on this occasion to spread two virtues of the world; non violence and peace.
In Indore, an old golden chariot is used for carrying out a procession as part of the celebration. The chariot is decorated beautifully by the best artisans of various cities. Around 950 grams of gold is used to decorate the chariot, which is a major source of attraction for the people on Mahavir Jayanti.

Schools and colleges across the country also celebrate the occasion by organizing skits and dramas that spread the message of Lord Mahavir. Various ‘processions’ are organised at many places and followers of jainism take part ‘aarti’, ‘bhajan’ and ‘pooja’ to revere Lord Mahavir with great devotion and enthusiasm.
To commemorate Mahavir’s teachings of ahimsa (non-violence), an ahimsa walk is carried out, wherein people display compassion and consideration towards each other as well as other living creatures.

Devotees congregate in significant Jain temples across the country like, Dilwara temples near Mount Abu, Rajasthan; Palitana Temple in Gujarat, Kulpakji Temple in Telangana, Sonagiri Temple in Madhya Pradesh. The 17th century Hanumantal Jain Temple in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh holds the glory of celebrating Mahavir Jayanti in a grand way by carrying out a procession.

When do we observe Mahavir Jayanti?

Chaitra is the first month of Hindu calendar corresponding to the months of March or April. Thus Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the rising moon in Chaitra month as per the ancient Jainism texts which document the birth of Lord Mahavir on this day.

Life of Lord Mahavir

Lord Mahavir was born to king Siddhartha and queen Trishala of royal Ikshvaku dynasty like other Indian deities like Rama and Gautam Buddha. Moreover twenty one out of twenty four tirthankaras also belonged to the same dynasty. As a prince, Lord Mahavir’s child hood was spent in abundance.

However his parents were enthusiastic devotees of twenty third tirthankara, Parshvanatha, which eventually influenced Mahavir’s life in a great way. 
At the age of thirty, Mahavir adorned an ascetic life by leaving his royal life and family, in search of spiritual awakening. He penanced himself for twelve years to attain Kevala Jnana (infinite knowledge and wisdom) at the age of forty two, under a sal tree, at the banks of Rijupalika River at Jrimbhikagrama that is located in modern day Bihar state.
Mahaveera roamed throughout India to a lot of places for thirty years to teach his philosophy; having disciples that include 14000 male ascetics, 36000 nuns and half a million male, female followers. Lord Mahavir attained ‘Nirvana’ (salvation).

Teachings Of Mahavira

Teachings of Mahavira include a belief in soul and emphasises on ahimsa (non violence). Mahavira emphasized on taking five vows like Ahimsa or non violence, Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non stealing), Brahmacharya (chastity) and Aparigraha (non attachment) that help in achieving spiritual peace and enlightenment.
Mahavira is the supreme preacher of ahimsa ever born in the history of Indian traditions. He advocated leading a life of peace and harmony; by doing no harm to human, animal or even insects. Mahavira believed in karma and its effect on after life. According to him one can achieve enlightenment through self restraint.

History Of Mahavir Jayanti And Ancient Customs

According to ancient Jain texts Lord Mahavira was born in 599 BCE and achieved salvation in 527 BCE, at an age of seventy two. He was the twenty fourth and last tirthankara of Jainism; proves that the birthdays of his predecessors like Bahubali, were being celebrated since long before him.

The teachings and vision of Mahavira and other tirthankaras helped in deciding the date of observing the birth day of Lord Mahavir. The ancient symbols of Lord Mahavira are found from archeological sites of the north Indian city of Mathura, dated, between 1st century BC to 2nd century AD.

In olden days, the birth of Mahavira was observed as a strictly spiritual event without carrying out grand processions or displaying the idols. Later on the event celebrated in a grand way and also the Nirvana (death) day of Mahavira is observed on the same day Hindus celebrate Deepawali festival.

Significance Of Mahavir Jayanti

Lord Mahavira, a great spiritual teacher and the greatest advocate of Ahimsa or non violence, have shown his followers the path of enlightment. According to Mahatma Gandhi, Lord Mahavira was the greatest advocate of truth and non violence, ever born in the history of Indian traditions. His followers restore faith in their religion and spiritual gurus while remembering their Lord on this auspicious occasion. However there are very few festivals in Jainism, which makes the birthday of Lord Mahavira more significant for his devotees.

The celebration also paves way for other religions to know and practise the values of Jainism deeply. People from across the country and the world as well; get a chance to know the purity of Jainism and the values hidden in it. The hard meditation for twelve years that led Mahavira to attain enlightenment is an inspiration for millions of devotees. The values also help people to adhere the path of truth and non violence while facing everyday life challenges.

Celebrating Mahavira Jayanti also enlightens people with a sense of compassion towards the sufferings of other living beings and encourages them to make charity by donating money and other valuables to the needy and poor, irrespective of their caste or religion.

Mahavir Jayanti Dates

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