(Last Updated on : 15/03/2013)
Mahamasthakabhisheka is a significant Jain festival that is held once in every twelve years. This festival takes place in Shravanabelagola, Karnataka where the highest statue of Bhagwan Bahubali or Gomateswara is situated. This is an anointment ceremony that is held in the month of February. Such a ceremony attracts devotees and travelers alike.
As the Mahamasthakabhisheka begins, holy water is showered on the people present there. The devotees carry 1008 specially prepared vessels for bathing the lord. The statue is bathed and smeared with saffron, curd, milk, ghee and juice of sugarcane. Vermillion, sandalwood and turmeric are also sprinkled on the idol of the lord. Bhagwan Bahubali is also offered gold coins, flowers, silver coins and other valuable stones. Priests pour 1008 vessels of water and 15 kinds of offerings on the Lord. Nowadays helicopters are also used for bathing the lord and to mark an end to this grand affair.
At this famous Jain pilgrim center preparations for the celebrations begin several months ago. In order to accommodate the large number of devotees a completely new township is built. This township is built with all kinds of modern amenities for the pilgrims. A wooden construction behind the statue is also built for the priests. This serves as their standing ground while performing the rituals during the crowning ceremony. A lump sum is spent in organizing Mahamasthakabhisheka in Karnataka.
To reach the statue of Gomateswara one need to climb a flight of around 500 granite rock steps. According to legends Gomateswara was the son of first Jain Tirthankara, Purudeva. The first anointing ceremony was held in the year 981 and till date the tradition continues. Mahamasthakabhisheka thus remains an important festival for the Jain pilgrims.