Mahavir Jayanti will be observed this year on 29th March to mark the birth of Mahavir, the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jains. As per the Hindu calendar, the festival is observed on the 13th day of the month of Chaitra which falls usually in March or April of the Gregorian calendar.
Mahavir Jayanti is also known as Mahavir Janm Kalyanak. It’s the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir, the founder of Jainism. It’s a sacred day and one of the most important festivals for the Jain community. It’s said that Lord Mahavir’s real name was Vardhamana. He left his house at the age of 30 in the search of spiritual awakening. He immersed himself in intense meditation and undertook severe austerity for 12 years.
Lord Mahavir preached non-violence and love and respect to all living beings ranging from the tiniest microorganism to the largest multi-cellular organism. The followers of the Jain community have different beliefs regarding Mahavir’s date of birth. While the Shwetambar community believes that the Lord was born in 599 BC, the Digambars believe that the period is 615 BC.
The celebrations of Mahavir Jayanti include grand processions featuring elephants, chariots, horses, drummers, and chanters. A statue of the deity is also carried on a cradle by the devotees. People also offer silent prayers and recite Lord Mahavir’s sermons on this sacred day.
People of the Jain community are very strict when it comes to food habits. They take a satvik diet which excludes onion and garlic. As they are strict followers of ahimsa, they don’t take a non-vegetarian diet and refrain from eating root vegetables and edible yeasts. The Jains eat their food before sunset so as to avoid harming the insects that come out only in dark.