Mahavir Jayanti is the most important religious festival of
the Jains to commemorate the birth anniversary of the great sage, Mahavir. Mahavir
was born in a kingdom Kundalagrama
in Bihar to King Siddartha and Queen Trishala. Also known as Vardhamana
during his early days, Mahavir was
the 24th and last Tirthankara of the Jainism
who had founded the Jainism as well as established the core principles of the
Jainism. He preached the virtues like ahimsa,
truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity and simple living. Lord Mahavir died at
the age of 72 in 527 BC.
According to ancient texts, Mahavira was born on the thirteenth
day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Chaitra in the year 599 BCE.
This year, Mahavir Jayanti falls on April 20th, Wednesday. This is
an auspicious occasion for the Jains. The idols Lord Mahavir are brought home,
temples are opulently decorated and a ceremonial bath (Abhishek) is offered to
the idol. All the Jain temples are adorned with flowers, flags etc. to
celebrate this special occasion. Pujas are performed on grand scale in the
temples after which chariot processions are carried out all over the cities. Devotees
visit the temple early in the morning to seek the blessings of Lord Mahavir and
pray for prosperity.
Lectures are given by monks and nuns to preach the values and
virtues of Jainism. Sermons are held, important chapters from the life of
Mahavir are read out to the devotees in order to remind people of the teachings
of Lord Mahavir. On this day, people indulge in charity and donate as much as
they can for a good cause. Clothes, blankets, alms and other daily necessity items
are donated to the poor and needy. Traditional dishes are prepared and
distributed amongst the poor. This day is celebrated with full zeal and zest by
the Jains and they get together to pray in the temples, to do some charity and
to remember the teachings of Lord Mahavir.