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One of the most auspicious festivals in the Jain community is Mahavir Jayanti. This year, on April 25, 2021, it will be remembered. Jains offer prayers, go on rath yatras, and pay visits to temples to commemorate Mahavir Jayanti. Jains will be celebrating the festival at home this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mahavir Jayanti, or Lord Mahavira’s birth anniversary, is also known as Mahaveer Janma Kalyanak. According to the Hindu calendar, Mahavir Jayanti falls on the 13th day of the bright half-moon in the month of Chaitra.
This festival commemorates the birth of Vardhamana Mahavira, Jainism’s 24th and final Tirthankara (spiritual teacher).
Mahavir Jayanti’s History and Importance
Lord Mahavira was born in a place known as Ahalya bhumi, according to several historians. The family who owns the land has not ploughed it in hundreds of years.
King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala of the Ikshvaku dynasty gave birth to Mahavira, or Vardhaman, in 599 BC at Kshatriyakund in Bihar to King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala.
At a young age, he inherited his father’s kingdom and ruled it for more than 30 years. Later in life, he decided to give up all of his worldly possessions and seek enlightenment.
Life is lived in five ways.
His teachings were known as Jain Agamas and he preached ahimsa (nonviolence), Satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity), and aparigraha (non-attachment) to his followers throughout his life.
In 527 B.C., at the age of 72, he attained moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) after preaching the gospel of universal love, in which he stated that all living beings are equal and thus require to be loved and respected.
Mahavira devoted his life to teaching spiritual freedom, and Jainists all over the world commemorate his philosophy on this day.
In India, how is Mahavir Jayanti celebrated?
Mahavir Jayanti is a significant day for the Jain community, and it is commemorated in India and around the world with spiritual fervour and festive spirit. On this occasion, charity work by devotees, stavan recitation, procession of the Lord in a chariot, and spiritual lectures by Jain munis and sadhvis are the main attractions.
The Rath Yatra is a procession in which the idol of Lord Mahavira is carried. Stavanes or bhajans are recited by devotees. The statue of Lord Mahavira is given a ceremonial bath called ‘Abhishek’ just before the procession.
People go to their Lord’s temples and pray in large groups.
Special food for Mahavir Jayanti
As all devotees strictly adhere to a satvik diet, food plays an important role in the Mahavir Jayanti festival. Onions and garlic are forbidden in the Satvik diet, which is based on the principle of eating fresh foods while causing the least amount of harm to living things.