This year, Mahavir Jayanti will be celebrated on Sunday (April 25). It is one of the most important festivals in Jainism. This day is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. Tirthankara is a person who has conquered his senses and feelings and has attained enlightenment through penance.
According to the Jain calendar, Lord Mahavira was born on the 13th day of Chaitra month in the royal family of Bihar’s Kundagram. In childhood, his parents – King Siddharth and Queen Trishala – named him Vardhaman. Though a son of a king, he had a different view of life. He was not interested in worldly luxury or conquering states.
As he grew older, he started pondering over the greater evils in the society like poverty, injustice and miseries of the people and at the age of 30, he abandoned the pleasures of royal life for his search of truth and to attain enlightenment.
After 12 years of rigorous penance in the jungles, Lord Mahavir attained Kaivalya (infinite knowledge) under sal tree on the banks of the river Rijupalika. Later, he preached for the betterment of society and the welfare of people. He gave many teachings of truth, non-violence, celibacy and forgiveness to the world. According to Jain texts, he gave the Panchasheel principles of Jainism which are Ahimsa, Satya, Aparigraha, Achaurya (Astaya) and Brahmacharya.
On this auspicious day, prayers are performed in Jain temples and people meditate. Devotees remember the teachings of Lord Mahavira. Renunciation and restraint, love and compassion, modesty and virtue were the essences of his discourses. Processions are carried out with beautifully decorated tableaux and the idol of Lord Mahavir placed on a chariot. People from the Jain community also carry a cradle of infant Lord Mahavir on their head while reciting religious songs.