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Mahavir Jayanti, a significant day for the Jain community across the world, to be celebrated on March 29 this year. The festival is considered to be the most important one for Jains and marks the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir, the last Tirthankara which means saviour and spiritual teacher, in Jainism. He was believed to be the 24th and the last tirthankara to the righteous path. As per the Hindu calendar, Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated on the 13th day of the month Chaitra. As per the English calendar it varies between the months of March or April. Mahavir Jayanti is is also known as Mahaveer Janma Kalyanak, or the Birth Anniversary of Lord Mahavira - the founder of Jainism.

Who was Lord Mahavira

Lord Mahavir was believed to be a proponent of non-violence, and preached love and respect of all kinds of living beings, from the tiniest micro-organisms to the largest multi-celled creatures. These values then translated into a religion that he found - Jainism.

Lord Mahavir was born in the palace of Vaishali to King Siddhartha and Queen Trisala. He took over the kingdom when he came of age and ruled it for over 30 years after which he decided to give up all the redundancies of life to seek enlightenment.

Celebrating Mahavir Jayanti

Celebrations on one of the most auspicious day for Jains vary between communities across the world. Usually, an idol of the founder of Jainism, Lord Mahavira, is carried on a chariot which is then taken on a procession popularly known as a Rath Yatra. The devotees chant a variety of religious rhymes or Bhajans in praise of Lord Mahavir and his contributions. The idol is then given a ceremonial bath or an Abhisheka. Since the day is considered to be special, people who belong to the community indulge in a number of charitable work in an attempt to give back to the society and do good. They also get together and visit temples that are dedicated to Lord Mahavir and conduct prayer meets. Monks or priests of the community also hold lectures so as to preach the path of virtue that defines Jainism.

Like any other festival, food plays an important role in Mahavir Jayanti celebrations. The Jains follow a satvik diet that has a strict abstinence from onions and garlic. Their central idea of eating is to consume fresh meals made from natural means with minimum harm to living creatures.



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