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Mahavir Jayanti 2019: The History and Significance of this Major Jain Festival

Jains typically celebrate the festival by offering prayers to Lord Mahavir and by visiting temples that are festooned with flowers and flags. Idols of Lord Mahavir are carried on a chariot by devotees after the ‘abhishek’ ritual.

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Updated:April 17, 2019, 7:14 AM IST
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Mahavir Jayanti 2019: The History and Significance of this Major Jain Festival
Devotees of Digambar Jain community perform 'Abhishek' of Lord Mahavir on the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti. (Image: PTI)

Mahavir Jayanti 2019 | Mahavir Jayanti, one of the most important religious festival of the Jain community in the country, be it the Digambara, Shwetambara, Sthanak Vaasis or Terapanthis schools of Jainism, will be celebrated on April 17 (today) this year. The festival is celebrated in commemoration of the birth of Lord Mahavira and usually falls on the 13th day of rising half of the Chaitra month as per the Hindu calendar.

Jains typically celebrate the festival by offering prayers to Lord Mahavir and by visiting temples that are festooned with flowers and flags. Idols of Lord Mahavir are carried on a chariot by devotees after the ‘abhishek’ ritual. The Jain community also engages in charity work on this day.

Lord Mahavir: From royalty to monkhood

Mahavir, also known as Vardhamana, was born in 599BC (as claimed by the Shwetambara sect) or 615BC (as claimed by Digambara sect) in Kshatriyakund, Bihar to King Siddhartha and queen Trisala.

Lord Mahavir spent his childhood as a prince surrounded by luxuries. It is said that before his birth, astrologers had predicted that Mahavir will grow up to be either be a great king or a Tirthankara. During his formative years, Mahavir developed a great interest in Jainism. At the age of 30, he renounced the throne and left his family in search of enlightenment.

He spent the next 12 years as a monk and devoted the rest of his life preaching the spiritual truth to his followers. He was the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jainism and preached the principles of truth, love and non-violence, which form the core of Jain philosophy.

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