Every year we get public holidays for Mahavir Jayanti but do you know why this day is celebrated across India? Just like any other festival in India, Mahavir Jayanti is also regarded as one of the important religious festivals. It is a major occasion for the Jain community, which is celebrated in a grand way in India as well as across the world to mark the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira. He was born into a royal family to King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala on the 13th day of Chaitra month. That’s why every year, this day is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti.
This year Mahavir Jayanti is on April 4, 2023.
As stated above, you all must have known that the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti is observed to mark the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira, who was the founder of Jainism and was born in 599 BC. But where was Mahavira born? Lord Mahavira was born at Kundagrama near Vaishali in Bihar. He was initially named Vardhaman Mahavira by his parents. Although Lord Mahavir was born into a royal family, he was never pleased by the royal and luxurious life, therefore, at the age of 30, Lord Mahavir decided to give up his throne and live a life of spirituality. He developed a deep interest in Jainism and practised it for twelve years before attaining omniscience. Lord Mahavira taught some valuable lessons on humanity and spiritual truth and all his teachings are still practised by his devotees.
He taught us the following principles of life and believed that all of these are essential to leading a peaceful life:
Nonviolence (Ahimsa), which teaches us to cause no harm to any living being.
Truthfulness (Satya), which teaches us the importance of speaking the truth.
The principle of non-stealing (Asteya) restrains us from stealing or taking ownership of something which does not belong to us.
The principle of non-attachment (Aparigraha) tells us not to be obsessed with any materialistic things.
All his teachings form the main pillars of Jainism, which is popularly known as 'Jain Agamas'.
Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira, who was known to be the last and 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. This spiritual occasion is celebrated all over India where the devotees visit different Jain shrines and temples to learn about all the preachings that were taught by Lord Mahavira and seek his blessings for a healthy and prosperous life. They spend their time meditating and reciting the verses as taught by Mahavira. Many devotees also keep a strict fast on this auspicious day of Mahavir Jayanti. They believe that this will help them gain spiritual strength over any materialistic possession. On this day, people eat fruits and avoid grains, as well as onion, garlic, and other similar food items. Another important aspect to observe this day is to teach people the significance of ahimsa (non-violence), humanity and harmony as preached by Lord Mahavira.
On this day, large crowds of devotees can be seen on all the temples and Jain shrines from the early morning. Many temples even offer free lunches and alms for the poor on this day.
Every festival in India is celebrated grandly with lots of love and joy. Each of them also holds a significance and story behind them. Similarly, there are also some interesting facts that you will love to know about Mahavir Jayanti:
Mahavir Jayanti which is also the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir is celebrated mainly amongst the Jain community, also in some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Vaishali, in Bihar which is regarded as the birthplace of Mahavira, celebrates this auspicious day in a grand manner. This occasion is also known as Vaishali Mahotsava.
On the morning of Mahavir Jayanti, various grand processions are held. You can come across grand chariots having the images of Lord Mahavira. These processions are led by several devotees including old and young crowds. Some people also take part in charitable activities like offering clothes and food to the needy.
On this day, the Jain shrines are decorated beautifully and include images of all the Tirthankars. The celebration rituals of Mahavir Jayanti also include meditation, offering food and flowers, bathing the idols of Lord Mahavira and lighting lamps in front of the Tirthankars.
Some of the famous Jain pilgrimage destinations in India where Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated in a grand manner are Palitana, Ranakpur, Shravanbelagola, Dilwara Temple, Khandagiri Caves and Udayagiri Caves.
The beautiful and joyful festival of Mahavir Jayanti teaches us the basic lesson on humanity and how love, truth and non-violence can help us lead a peaceful life. Mahavir Jayanti is observed to celebrate the teachings of Lord Mahavira, which not only teaches us humanity but also tells us to be more considerate towards the difficulties faced by the other living creatures. This festival teaches us to be kind and helpful to animals, humans and anyone who is in a state of suffering.
Thus, the festival of Mahavir Jayanti holds very significant importance in our life. Share these interesting facts and learnings with your kids and friends and celebrate this festival in a memorable way.