Mahamastakabhisheka Mahavir Jayanthi g
Mahavir Jayanthi Mahamastakabhisheka


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mastakabhisheka Literally meaning 'the grand ceremonial head anointing of Bahubali', this Jain festival is celebrated in the town of Shravana Belagola, in Karnataka. Gomateshwara Bahubali was the son of King Rishabhadeva. The community holds him in very high regard for he was the first to have attained salvation. As a mark of respect to this great saint, his 18-metre high statue is ceremonially anointed every 12 years.

Millions of devotees converge to Shravana Belagola for the occasion. Observed regularly since the installation of the statue in 981 AD, the last anointing was on December 19,1993. Preparation for this ceremony takes about 18 days. On the day of the festival, worship begins at dawn. One thousand and eight small metal vessels containing water are placed neatly in the courtyard below the gigantic sculpture, considered divine. At daybreak, a select group of priests, chanting hymns, arrange the pots in a traditional geometrical pattern. Devotees then lift these vessels and climb up the 600 stairs to the top of the enormous statue, and position themselves on the scaffolding. To the sound of conches, cymbals, trumpets, incantations and piped music, the splendid libation commences. Those on the scaffolding shower consecrated water from the pots on the assembly below.
The statue is bathed with unending quantities of milk, sugarcane juice, pastes of saffron, sandalwood, and therapeutic herbal lotions. Powders of coconut, turmeric, saffron, vermilion and sandalwood are then sprayed on the statue. Precious stones, gold, silver, petals and coins are offered in reverence. The spectacular finale to this 10-hour ceremony is a shower of flowers from a helicopter. At the conclusion of the Mahamastak Abhishek, devotees retrace their steps down the stairs with a feeling of fulfillment.

According to a legend, King Rishabhadeva had two sons, Bharata and Bahubali. In keeping with the traditions of Varnashram Dharma, the king decided to renounce the world.Before this, he distributed his property, giving Ayodhya to his elder son Bharata and Podanpura to his second son Bahubali.
Since King Bharata desired to become a Chakravarti monarch, he began conquering all the neighboring kingdoms. On returning victorious to Ayodhya, he received a great shock. The chariot would not enter his kingdom, indicating that at least one ruler's territory had yet to be captured. Bharata realized that he had not conquered his brother's domain and tried to negotiate a settlement with him, but Bahubali refused to accept his supremacy. This resulted in war-like tension. To avoid the bloodshed of innocent soldiers, the two brothers decided to battle by staring into each other's eyes or drishtiyudha, throwing water at each other or jalayudha, and wrestling or malayudha. Bahubali was the winner in each of these contests.
Bharata was so deeply humiliated by his defeat that in a fit of rage, he threw one of the wheels from his chariot at his brother. However, since the wheel had supernatural powers, it could not hurt a relative, so Bahubali was unharmed. But at the moment Bahubali realized the futility of the fight. Dismayed and disgusted at what the lust for power and greed could do, he left his kingdom and decided to strive for spiritual peace. The repentant Bharata entreated Bahubali not to renounce the world but he declined. Bahubali stood in penance for so long that creeper grew up his legs and spread onto his arms. Despite the calm facial expression of Bahubali, kevalgyan eluded him. He could not free himself from the thought that he stood on land that belonged to Bharata. Realizing this, Bharata prayed at his feet. He implored Bahubali not to think of the land as belonging to either brother. This truth suddenly dawned on Bahubali. He achieved complete enlightenment and soon thereafter attained salvation. Bharata then decided to get a huge gold statue of Bahubali installed at Podanpura.
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