Mahavir Jayanti is one of the most important religious celebrations for Jains across the world and majorly in India. This day marks the birth of Lord Mahavir, who was the 24th and the last Tirthankara of the Jain faith, and the son of King Siddhartha and Queen Trisala.
Who is a Tirthankara?
A Tirthankar is the saviour and spiritual teacher of the Jain dharma. This term lays importance on the founder of Tirtha, who achieves enlightenment and helps others achieve the same.
When is Mahavir Jayanti Celebrated?
According to the Swetambar sect of Jainism, he was born on the 13th day of the Hindu calendar month Chaitra in 599 BC in Kundalagrama, Bihar. As against this, Digambar Jains believe that his birth took place in 615 BC.
As per the Gregorian calendar, Lord Mahavir’s birth is celebrated in the month of March or early April.
So, in the year 2020, it’ll be celebrated on the 6th of April.
Life of Lord Mahavir
Lord Mahavir was born as prince Vardhamana and belonged to the Ikshvaku Dynasty. Even though he was destined to be an emperor, he left his home at the age of 30 in search of truth in the world and gave up all the worldly possessions including clothing. He lived an ordinary and ascetic life, moving from place to place, meditating and fasting. Through his travels, he learnt about the various pains and sufferings endured by humans and ultimately achieved enlightenment.
After attaining enlightenment, he continued his travels, preaching the concept of absolute freedom from the cycle of birth, life, pain, misery, and death – and how anyone can achieve Moksh.
Why do we celebrate Mahavir Jayanti?
Mahavir Jayanti is the most important day for Jains around the world. To understand more about its significance, let’s delve into his life a little more.
Lord Mahavir is considered one of the greatest prophets of social reform and peace around the world. He followed the footsteps of his predecessor Tirthankar Parshvanatha. He established five rules for humans to follow and those are ‘Ahimsa’, ‘Asteya’, ‘Brahmacharya’, ‘Satya,’ and ‘Aparigraha’. Lord Mahavir based a lot of his teachings on scientific facts of nature and the true meaning of life.
The spiritual and moral greatness of Lord Mahavir’s teachings impressed a lot of people not only in India, but all over the world. He founded Jainism – a simple religion, free of the various ritual intricacies and inspired many people to follow his path. His teachings are still supported by not only Jains but also by multiple communities across the globe.
How is Mahavir Jayanti Celebrated?
On Mahavir Jayanti, people organize peaceful processions, or Rath Yatras with the idol of Lord Mahavir on chariots, horses, elephants, etc. There are several rituals that people follow on this day, one of which is bathing Lord Mahavir’s idol in honey, water, and milk – a ceremonial bath known as Abhisheka.
Parents tell many stories of Lord Mahavir to their children on this day to honour the great prophet. His teachings are conveyed through sermons performed as part of the Mahavir Jayanti celebrations.
Jains around the world do a lot of charity donating money, food, and clothes to the poor – one of the essential customs in the Jain community.
The Sri Mahavirji temple in Rajasthan and Parasnath Temple in Kolkata are some of the important places where Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated immensely.
People also observe fast and visit Jain temples to seek Lord Mahavir’s blessings. The temples also prepare food that’s free of onions and garlic – a common practise followed by most Jains. The idea is to eat healthy food produced naturally and avoid bringing any harm to the animals.
The teachings of Lord Mahavir about universal love continue to live and inspire thousands to this date. In India, it is considered as a national holiday to honour the birth of the great prophet and the father of Jainism.
Happy Mahavir Jayanti to you all!
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