The entire Jain community through out the country celebrates the birth anniversary of the 24th and the last Tirthankara, Vardhman Mahavir, the founder of Jainism as Mahavir Jayanti every year. It is celebrated in March. Born a prince in 599 BC, Mahavir renounced worldly life at the age of 30 and undertook austere penance until he achieved realisation. Lord Mahavir spread the message of salvation to the world and had many followers.
Mahavir, also known as Vardhamana, is the last one in the galaxy of Twenty-four Teerthankaras (Jain Prophets). Lord Mahavir has been acclaimed as one of the greatest prophets of peace and social reformation that Bharat has ever produced. He was born to a pious couple, Siddhartha (king of Kaundinyapura on the outskirts of Vaishali near Patna in Bihar) and Priyakarani or popularly Trishala Devi - who were deeply permeated with the philosophy of Jainism preached by Parswanatha, the 23rd Teerthankara.
On Mahavir Jayanthi, Jain temples are decorated with flags. In the morning the idol of Mahavira is given a ceremonial bath called the 'Abhishek'. The devotees make offerings of milk, rice, fruit, incense, lamps and water to the Tirthankar. Pilgrims from all parts of the country visit the ancient Jain Temples at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat on this day. The Namokar mantra is chanted every where.
The Jains observes religious events on this day. The event hold special significance in Gujarat and Rajasthan due to the ancient shrines at Girnar and Palitana. In Kolkata, too this festival is celebrated with great fervor at the Parasnath temple. Even at Pawapuri in Bihar Mahavir Jayanti holds a special significance.
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