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Mahavir Jayanti Festival, Mahavir Jayanti 2012
The great man Mahavir was the sole inspiration for the rise of Jainism in India. His path of finding nirvana or the ultimate sense of unity with the soul came from a way which was not unlike Buddhism, but stricter and more definitive. Mahavir was the final Tirthankara (or Propagator) and he achieved his sense of enlightenment through deep meditation and through being an ascetic. He abstained from certain so-called pleasures in life and found his life path through his meditative ways.
The exact date and time of Mahavira’s birth is still under confusion; the two schools of Jainism constantly fight over it, and make out
the date to be either 615 BC or 599 BC. However, they both come to the same date of birth, which is the 13th day during the rising moon of the final month of the Hindu calendar.

There are two different sects of Jainism, one is the Digambaras, which means “sky-wrapped” and the other is Swetambaras, which means “white-wrapped”. They both believe in the inception of Mahavira which was sort of a miracle, where the Gods let the seed of Rishabhdeva into his wife Devananda to let her conceive, and then they shifted the embryo into the womb of Trisala and Siddhartha. The mother of Mahavira saw fourteen dreams during the period of her expecting, according to Mahavir Jayanti Festival
Swetambaras; however, the Digambaras disagree with the number and say it was 16 dreams. At that period, holy astrologers were summoned who told the mother that these dreams meant that the child born would either be a king or a Tirthankara of a new religion.

We generally celebrate the day by late March of in early April, and you would see beautiful flags decorating Jain temples if you go there during this day. The Mahavira Idol is taken through a process of cleansing by giving a bath, and then the idol is offered a lot of good food, water and rich incense. The Jains celebrate the day by feeding the poor and doing well to the community and stopping animal slaughter. Jain temples in places like Pawapuri become places of meeting for all sorts of communities who are against violence.

Mahavir Jayanti in 2012: Saturday, 16 April.


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