Mahavir Jayanti marks the birthday of Mahavira, founder of the modern Jain religion and the last in the galaxy of 24 Teerthankaras (Jain Prophets).He was born on the 13th day of the rising moon of Chaitra, in either 599 BC or 615 BC .
The term ‘Jain’ has been derived from Jina, which means The Conqueror. Jainism rests on the three-fold path of right conduct, right faith and right knowledge. It does not believe in a single God who absolves the worshippers of their sins. It teaches the practitioners to take complete responsibility for their actions, thereby underlying the Karma theory. It teaches the followers to live a very austere life, in an attempt to clear their debt to mankind and also attain the highest form of salvation.
The devout followers of this religion do not even harm a fly. Some followers cover their mouths with a tiny cloth, in order to avoid the slightest possibility of killing of germs during breathing. It was this doctrine of non-violence (Ahimsa) that was adopted and popularized by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom struggle.
Jainism can be divided into two sects - the Shwetamabara Jains (ones wearing simple white clothes) and the Digamabara Jains who practice the most extreme form of ascetism by not adorning any clothes on their bodies. Both these schools strictly follow the teachings of Mahavira, who is known as the ‘Jina’ or the conqueror.
About Lord Mahavir:
His full name is Vardhamana Mahavir. He was born of Sidhartha, the Raja of Kundalpura, and Queen Trishala, who was also known by the name Priyakarni. Prince Vardhamana became extremely penitent and resolved to give up everything worldly. He gave up attachment to his parents, friends and relatives. Distributing all his wealth among the poor, he went to the forest and became a monk. Mahavir practised rigorous austerities, including fasts that lasted many days. He meditated on the pure nature of the Soul. Mahavir lived a life of absolute truthfulness, a life of perfect honesty and a life of absolute chastity.
Celebrations take place at Jain Temples throughout India. Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated widely throughout the Jain community. Due to the high numbers of Jains in Rajasthan and Gujarat, most celebrations are seen in these states.
However, those that follow Jainism travel to recognized Jain shrines to celebrate Mahavir Jayanti. In Gujarat, the shrines are located at Girnar and Palitana. Others flock to Mahavirji in Rajasthan.
Lord Mahavira was born in Vaishali, which also hosts a majestic celebration.
Temples that host Mahavir Jayanti festivals are decorated with flags to mark the birthday of Lord Mahavira.
Each locality holds a traditional bath (abhishek) for a deity of Lord Mahavira.
Following the bath, the deity is carried in a parade throughout the region.
Each parade varies but generally includes drummers, horses, elephants, singers and lamps.
Depending on the region, the parade ends at a temple, shrine or large communal area where people may pray and meditate.
The four kinds of donations recommended for every Jain on this day include:
Gyan daan: sharing of knowledge
Abhay daan: protecting people from bad actions
Aushad daan: donating medicines
Ahaar daan: giving food
The present-day ascetic religion of Jainism revers Mahavira as their key prophet. Practiced by over3.5 million people, Jainism . They follow a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Some may wear face masks to prevent the chance of inadvertently killing an insect while breathing in.