By Pragya Jha
Mahavir Jayanti is one of the important festivals of Jain community which marks the birth of lord Mahavira and is celebrated every year on the 13th day of Chaitra month. He is regarded as the 24th (last) Tiranthakar(An enlightened soul born as a human being who attains perfection through meditation) of the Jain community. Jainism is a peaceful religion.
A brief on Jainism
Jainism is a religion that aims at the liberation of soul and emphasizes on non-violence toward all living beings. It was originally founded by Rishabha but became a major religion under Vardhman Mahavira who was 24th tirthankar of Jainism. The religion was further split into two sects within Jainism.
- Swetambars- Swetambars are flexible in their approach, follow the teachings of 23rd tirthankara Parsavanath and clad themselves in white garments.
- Digambars- Digambars are the folllowers of 24th Thirthankar Mahavira. They believe in rigid penance which can be achieved by punishment to self and body. They stress on the nudity and do not allow the use of cloth to cover the body.
Basic teachings of Jainism
- The entire world is animated-even stone, rocks and water have life.
- They believe in non-injury to living beings, especially to humans, animals, plants and insects.
- The cycle of birth and rebirth is shaped through karma.
- Asceticism and penance are required to free oneself from Karma.
- Jain monks and nuns take five vows: to abstain from killing, stealing and lying; observe celibacy; and to abstain from possessing property.
Vardhman Mahavira was a Kshatriya belonging to the royal family of Magadha. He was born in 599 BC in Bihar,India. Lord Mahavira was the son of King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala. His childhood name was Vardhman. It is believed that when Lord Mahavira was in the womb of her mother she had fourteen dreams of his future son becoming a Tirthankar. Even an astrologer predicted that the prince would either become an emperor or a tirthankar. At the age of 30 years, he gave up all the luxuries and comforts. For 12 long years, he had been under penance. He became 24th tirthankar to receive enlightenment. He attained enlightenment at the age of 42. At the age of 72, he left the world and attained Moksha.
Celebration of Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir Jayanti is a religious festival celebrated among jains. On this auspicious day, various sects of the community come together and the birth of their 24th Thirthankar.
- Followers of this community visit the temples and offer ceremonial bath on Lord Mahavir’s idol called as “abhishek”.
- The temples are decorated with flags to mark the birthday of lord Mahavira.
- Chariot processions are held with the images and thousands of followers chanting the prayers.
- Traditional dishes are made and offered to the poor.
Pragya Jha is a student of Journalism in New Delhi. Twitter: @pragya1527