Mahavir Jayanti is the festival which holds a major significance in the Jain community and is celebrated with splendor in India and across the world. The festival commemorates the birth of Lord Mahavira. As per Jain mythology, Lord Mahavira is the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. This year, Mahavir Jayanti will be celebrated on the 25th of April.
Reason behind celebrating Mahavir Jayanti
According to the Jain Texts and religious scripts, Lord Mahavira's birth was taken place on the 13th day of the waxing moon on the Chaitra month (Hindu calendar) in Kundalagrama (now Kundalpur) in Bihar, a few kilometers from Patna. That time, Vaishali was the capital of the state. However, the year of Mahavira’s birth is disputed. As per Swetambar Jains, Mahavira was born in 599 BC while the Digambar Jains consider 615 BC as his birth year. He was named as Vardhaman by his parents – King Siddhartha and Queen Trisala.
According to the Swetambar community’s beliefs, Mahavira’s mother had 14 dreams, which were later interpreted by astrologers all of whom said that Mahavira would either go on to become an emperor or a sage (Tirthankara). When Mahavira reached 30, he left his throne and family in search of truth. He lived in exile for 12 years as an ascetic. During this time, he preached non-violence treated everyone with reverence. He got his name “Mahavira” after showing exceptional skills in controlling the senses. It is widely belied that when Mahavira was 72, he attained enlightenment (Nirvana).
How Mahavir Jayanti is being celebrated?
The festival is celebrated is to bring peace and harmony by spreading the teachings of Lord Mahavira. A procession is carried out in the form of “Rath yatra” with Lord Mahavira’s idol neatly placed on the top. The decoration of Jain temples is being done with flags while the Jains offer food and clothes to the needy. Jainism vehemently opposes animal slaughter and hence donations are made to stop animal killings.
Other than charitable acts, prayers are also offered in temples of Lord Mahavira. Some other devotes often engage in mediation—a practice championed by Mahavira. Old and famous Jain temples witness a huge surge in devotees on this day. Teachings of Mahavira and Jainism are recited by monks and nuns.
Mahavir Jayanti is predominantly a Jain festival and to get the true essence of it, you can visit any of the Jain temples.