Gommatagiri reverberates with festivities and rituals

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Mysuru, Oct 20: The glistening statue of Gomateshwara atop the Gommatagiri Hills came alive in brilliant hues at the 59th annual Mastakabhisheka held here on Sunday, Oct 19.

Witnessed by nearly 15,000 Jains from Mysore and surrounding regions, the 13th century statue belonging to the Vijayanagara period, was the cynosure of all eyes as the priests, headed by Parsvanath, conducted rituals under the supervision of Sri Devendra Keerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji of the Hombuja Math.

An annual tradition that unfolds in the month of October, the hills of Gommatagiri, set amidst the backwaters of the Krishnaraja Sagar Reservoir in the distance, presented a perfect setting for the event, which was witnessed by a large number of Jains settled in and around Mysore.

At the auspicious hour, the priests began the sacred chants, and around noon, the first 'Kalash' containing the sacred waters were poured over the crown of the statue from a specially erected platform.

The place reverberated with chants of “Bhagwan Gomateshwara ki jai" as devotees watched the grey granite statue changing colours from white to yellow only to turn into a burnish red and later orange, as Gomateshwara was bathed in milk, turmeric, sandal, kum-kum, and tender coconut water.

The devotees began to congregate at the sacred hill early in the day and occupied vantage positions to witness the event. Although similar anointment ceremonies are held at Dharmasthala, Karkala and at Shravanabelagola, which is reckoned to be the grandest of all, the ceremony at Gommatagiri is unique as this is the only place where the anointment is held every year.

While Gommatagiri is unknown to a large majority of people, there is a strong belief among the Jains here that the statue belongs to the period when Chavundaraya got the statue of Gomateshwara sculpted at Shravanabelagola, which was more than 1,000 years ago. However, the statue is perceived to be in danger of suffering damage due to illegal quarrying and blasting which takes places in the vicinity. Although a government directive has called for a ban on quarrying , it is yet to be implemented.

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