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Place : All over India
Significance: A Jain festival celebrating the birth anniversary of Mahavir.
birth anniversary of the 24th and the last Tirthankara of the Jains, Vardhman
Mahavir, the founder of Jainism, is celebrated by the Jain community in March.
Born a prince in 599 BC, Mahavir renounced worldly life at the age of 30 and
undertook austere penance until he achieved realisation. He spread the message
of salvation to the world and had many followers. Mahavir preached non-violence,
prohibited any kind of killing and taught his followers to seek salvation
through penance and abstinence. They are also advised to donate money, clothes
and grain to the poor. The Jains are divided into many sects of which the
main ones are Digambaras and Shvetambaras with the latter again divided into
Deravasis and Sthanakvasis.
On Mahavir Jayanthi, Jain temples are
decorated with flags. In the morning the idol of Mahavira is given a ceremonial
bath called the 'abhishek'. It is then placed in a cradle and carried in a
procession around the neighbourhood. The devotees will make offerings of milk,
rice, fruit, incense, lamps and water to the tirthankar. Some sections of
the community even participate in a grand procession. Lectures are held to
preach the path of virtue. People meditate and offer prayers. Donations
are collected to save the cows from slaughter. Pilgrims from all parts of the
country visit the ancient Jain Temples at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat on this day.
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