Mahavir Jayanti Date in the current year: April 21, 2024

Mahavir Jayanti Mahavir Jayanti, also known as Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, is one of the most important festivals in the ancient Indian religion of Jainism. It celebrates the birthday of Jina Mahavira, a revered spiritual leader and the 24th tirthankara (a person who’ve achieved enlightenment). According to the Gregorian calendar, the festival occurs in March or April.

According to Jain texts, Jina Mahavira was born on the 13th day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Chaitra in 599 BC. Most modern historians agree that his birthplace was Kundagram, which corresponds to the present-day village of Kundalpur in the state of Bihar.

Mahavira was the son of King Siddhartha and his wife Queen Trishala. According to legend, Trishala had several auspicious dreams during her pregnancy, which foretold the birth of a great soul. Mahavira’s birth name was Vardhmamana, which means “the one who grows”, in honor of his kingdom’s prosperity.

Jain texts say that he received the name Mahavira (“the great hero”) from the gods due to his ability to remain steadfast and fearless amid calamities, hardships and dangers. Some sources claim that he received this name after taming a cobra and an enraged elephant. The title Jina (“victor”) was added to his name after he had achieved enlightenment and broke out of the cycle of rebirths and reincarnations.

Mahavira left his home at age 30 to pursue spiritual awakening. He became an ascetic, practiced intense meditation for 12 years and attained omniscience (Kevala Jnana). After that, he preached for 30 years that observance of the principles of non-violence (ahimsa), truth (satya), non-stealing (asteya), chastity (brahmacharya), and non-attachment (aparigraha) is necessary to achieve spiritual liberation. He also taught the principles of many-sidedness (Anekantavada).

Mahavira is believed to have achieved nirvana and moksha (liberation from samsara) at age 72, becoming the last of 24 tirthankara of the current half of the cosmic time cycle (according to Jain cosmology, the wheel of time is divided into half-cycles, ascending and descending, and each half-cycle has exactly 24 spiritual teachers and leaders called tirthankaras). Jain iconography usually portrays Mahavira in a sitting or standing meditative pose, with a lion symbol beneath him, to distinguish him from other tirthankaras.

Mahavira’s birth anniversary, called Mahavir Janma Kalyanak or Mahavir Jayanti, is one of the most important religious festivals for Jains. It is an official holiday in the Indian states of Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajastan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarkhand.

During the celebration, the idol of Mahavira is carried in a chariot in a festive procession called Ratha Jatra and honored with a ceremonial bath and anointment (abhisheka). During the day, most Jains recite mantras and prayers, meditate, perform pujas and vratas, attend sermons, and engage in charitable acts.

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Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, Mahavir Jayanti, holidays in India, religious festivals, regional holidays