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Mahavir Jayanti

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Mahavir Jayanti is a festival that celebrates the birth of Vardhamana Mahavira, the formal founder of Jainism. Mahavira’s teachings have universal appeal, and he is hailed as one of the foremost of the religious leaders and social reformers that India has produced.

Mahavira was the 24th Thirthankara (seer) of the Jain Faith. He was born into a royal family, to King Siddartha and Queen Trishala of Kundalagram in Bihar. His parents were followers of Lord Parashvanath, the 23rd Thirthankara. Mahavira is believed to have been born on the 13th day of the bright fortnight in the Month of Chaitra (April).

Even from a young age, Mahavira was an intellectual person, questioning the cause of all the suffering in the world. He was a person of great physical strength and high intellect. At the age of 30, he gave up the material life and took to penance and meditation, seeking to gain knowledge of the Ultimate Truth. After 12 years spent in secluded contemplation, he decided that it was not enough to gain personal relief from pain and suffering and he started preaching his message to fellow human beings. Hence, he spent the rest of his life preaching the tenets of Jainism as realized by him and as preached by all the Thirthankaras before him.

Mahavira preached a five-fold path to Nirvana or Salvation. His followers had to strictly adhere to these tenets. The five main rules are Ahimsa (Non-Violence), Aparigraha (Renunciation of possessions), Asteya (Not Stealing Not coveting another’s possessions), Arjava (Simplicity) and Brahmacharya (Celibacy) .

Traditions


Mahavir Jayanti is an important occasion for Jains across the country. It usually occurs in the month of April, sometimes in March.

On this occasion, the idol of Mahavir in every Jain temple is given a ritual bath called ‘Abhisheka’, and it is then taken out in procession. The Jain temples are colorfully decorated and flags are raised to mark the occasion. Prayers are offered and there are sermons and lectures on his teachings.

Jains celebrate the occasions by preparing feasts and celebrating with the whole family. They also practice charity on this occasion, feeding the poor, and helping them in other ways. Donations are also collected to prevent the practice of cruelty to animals as non-violence to all creatures is basic tenet of the faith.

Tourist Essential


Mahavir Jayanti is one of the major festivals of India. It is celebrated with special fervor in Rajasthan and Gujarat, which have a large number of people following the Jain faith. Tourists who belong to the Jain Religion, or those who are interested in learning about the faith can visit various Jain temples and take part in the festivals and cultural programs organized during this period.

Mahavira is credited as the real founder of Jainism, though the faith existed even before him. He formalized the practices and set rules for both the ascetics and common people to follow. Later on, his followers split into two sects: Digambaras and Shvetambaras.

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by Kapil
 

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