Mahavir Jayanthi is celebrated by the Jain community on behalf of the birth of Lord Mahavira. Mahavira is also the founder of Jainism. It is the considered to be the most important festival for the Jains. Mahavira, the 24th and the last Tirthankara, who preached the essence of life, virtue and non-violence towards all living beings. According to the Swetambaras, he was born in 599 BC but some people and the Jainists believe that Mahavira was born in 615 BC.
Lord Mahavir is also known and also referred to as Indian sage Vardhamana. He was was born in Kundalagrama, the state of Bihar. He was the son of the great king Siddartha and Queen Trishala. At the age of 30, Lord Mahavir left his own throne and other worldly pleasures. With that he almost spent twelve long years of his life as sage. Mahavira gave highest respect to all living beings in the world and he preached non-violence to the peple and the world. He also set control over his senses which later earned him the name Mahavira. At the age of 72, he attained nirvana, and devoted the rest of his life to preach spiritual freedom. Thus, to mark the birth of Lord Mahavira and his preaching, his followers celebrate Mahavir Jayanti with great fervour. The birth anniversary is celebrated in the month of early April, based on the Gregorian calendar.
Mahavira was the founder of Jainism who had left the throne and his family to seek the truth of spiritual freedom and virtue. During the festival of Mahavira, all the followers of Lord Mahavira take out the processions, prayers and read out passages from biographies of Jains. It is the festival of Jains celebrated all over the world.
Mahavir Jayanti is a sacred festival for Jains and followers across the world celebrate it in a grand way by taking out processions that might include chariot, horses, elephants, drummers and chanters. Silent prayers are also offered and his preaching is resaid in the form of sermons to the followers on this day. Traditional Mahavir Jayanti recipes are also prepared in order to celebrate the festival.
Jains celebrate Mahavir Jayanti in a colourful way by decorating the Jain temples with flags and offering alms to the poor people. Donations are collected to save animals from slaughter. In India, the birth anniversary of Mahavir is more observed in Gujarat and Rajasthan compared to other parts, as a higher number of Jains reside in these states. In the early morning, followers give a ceremonial bath to the statue of Lord Mahavira called ‘abhishek’. The statue is then placed in a beautifully decorated cradle and carried out in a procession. The day ends at the shrine, temple or communal area where people meditate and pray. Devotees and followers of Lord Mahavira decorate the Jain temples in attractive way and take out peaceful procession by chanting sermons and teachings. People send Mahavir Jayanti greetings to their dear ones in order to mark the importance of the occasion.