In 2018, Mahavir Jayanti will be celebrated on March 29 and like every year, the occasion is expected to be celebrated with fanfare this time as well. The festival is observed by the Jain community across the world to mark the birth anniversary of Mahavir, the 24th and last Tirthankara in Jainism. As per the Hindu calendar, the occasion falls on the 23rd day of the month of Chaitra while the Gregorian calendar says it comes in March or April.
As per the Jain tradition, Lord Mahavir was believed to be born in the early part of the 6th century BC in a royal family in what is now Bihar. His real name was Vardhamana and his parents were King Siddhartha and his queen Trishala. He gave up all mundane possessions when he became 30 and left home in search of spiritual awakening. He immersed himself in intense meditation and undertook severe austerity measures for the next 12 years or so to attain Kevala Jnana. There are also opinions that Mahavir lived in the 5th century BC and was a contemporary of Lord Buddha. The Shwetambar and Digambar sects of Jainism differ over Mahavir's actual birth date. Nevertheless, he is revered by all for promoting non-violence and preaching love for all kinds of living beings.
Celebrations of the auspicious day include taking out processions, even featuring elephants, horses and chariots. The followers offer prayers and recite the lord's sermons. They also consume special vegetarian dishes.
On this day, the statue of Mahavir is washed with fragranced oil and people visit Jain temples to offer prayers. The Gomateshwara statue in Shravanbelagola in Karnataka is particularly visited by scores of followers on the occasion. States like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab and others celebrate the occasion on a grand scale. Madhuban in Jharkhand, Girnarji in Gujarat, Mangi Tungi and Gajpantha in Maharashtra also see a huge footfall of the followers on the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti.
Here are the dates of Mahavir Jayanti till the year 2025:
- 2019: April 17 (Wednesday)
- 2020: April 6 (Monday)
- 2021: April 25 (Sunday)
- 2022: April 14 (Thursday)
- 2023: April 4 (Tuesday)
- 2024: April 21 (Sunday)
- 2025: April 10(Thursday)