(Last Updated on : 09/04/2013)
was also known as Vardhamana and he was born to Siddharth and Priyakarani or popularly Trishala Devi. Siddharth was the king of Kaundinyapura on the outskirts of Vaishali
. Both of the parents were deeply permeated with the philosophy of Jainism
preached by Parshvanatha
, the 23rd Tirthankara. Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara.
Mahavira demonstrated absolute fearlessness, which earned him the name `Mahavira`. He grew up as a prince, excelling in physical prowess as well as intellectual acumen. Mahavira left his family at the age of 30; he also gave up all property, wealth, and pleasures and undertook a life of intense penance for more than twelve years. He meditated, fasted, and went without water. After all this, Mahavira tore out his hair and wandered naked with a piece of cloth on his shoulder. He finally became self-illumined. He later chose to become a great human redeemer and hence, started teaching Jainism. Hence, Vardhamana Mahavira became the 24th Tirthankara of the Jain or Jaina Religion.
The Jains have two sects- the Digambaras
, sky-clad as they go about naked and Shwetambaras
, who wear white clothes. There is a dispute between Digambaras and Shwetambaras about the exact date of Mahavira`s birth. But, the holiday declared by Government of India falls in March- April. Digambara tradition states 615B.C. as the birth year of Mahavira while Shwetambaras hold 599B.C. as the birth year. Digambaras believe Trisala, Mahavira`s mother, had 16 dreams while Shwetambaras assert, she had 14 dreams.
Celebration of Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir Jayanti is observed in quiet manner with prayers, visiting of sacred places and by worshipping the Tirthankaras as befitting the memory of great ascetic of India. Jains gather in temples to hear readings of the teachings of Mahavira. The event holds special significance in Gujarat
due to the ancient shrines at Girnar
and Palitana in Gujarat. Mahavir Jayanti is also celebrated at Parasnath Temple in Kolkata
and at Pavapuri
The dreams of Mahavira`s mother before his birth are dramatically presented. The circumstances of his birth, as narrated in the Holy Scriptures are explained to the assembled people. The idol of Bhagwan Mahavir is ceremonially bathed and rocked in a cradle. In many places processions are carried out through the streets with the image of Lord Mahavira. In some areas in India this day is regarded as a general public holiday.