Preparations for Mahamastakabhisheka, the head anointing ceremony of the Lord Gommateshwara Bahubali, is in full swing in Karnataka's Shravanabelagola. The religious event is observed once every 12 years in Jain Dharmic cycle, is an integral part of the ancient and composite Jain tradition.
The 57-foot-high monolithic Gomateshwara statue on Vindyagiri in Shravanabelagola, is located around 160 km west of Bengaluru. Shravanabelagola, nestled by the Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri Hills, protected by the monolith Bhagwan Bahubali, and home to over 2,300 years of Jain heritage, is a veritable picture postcard of our history and heritage spanning the centuries. In the town of Shravanabelagola, stands a colossal rock-cut statue of Lord Gommateshwara Shri Bahubali.
The ceremony of 2018 is the 88th in the series that commenced in the year 981 A.D. Hundreds of devotees and tourists from different parts of the world will be participating.
The Bahubali statue
The statue was built in circa 982. The Bahubali statue is described as one of the mightiest achievements of ancient Karnataka in the realm of sculptural art. The statue stands upright in the posture of meditation known as kayotsarga, reaching a height of nearly 57 feet atop the Vindyagiri Hills - accessible through a flight of 500 steps.
Bhagwan Bahubali, son of Tirthankara
Bhagwan Bahubali, the son of the first of our twenty four Jain Tirthankaras, is worshipped for living with exceptional qualities that he displayed during all stages of his life from conception, birth, renunciation, enlightenment and salvation. Beautiful and serene is his external appearance.
A scaffolding is erected near the Gomateshwara statue at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka ahead of the Mahamastakabhisheka. The construction of scaffolding and visitors' gallery is being carried out with the German technology of ring-and-lock, to facilitate the anointment of the statue as part of Mahamastakabhisheka. The mega festival event, held once in 12 years, will be conducted from February 7 to February 26, 2018. PTI Photo
Appearance of the statue
The image of Gommateshwara has curly hair ringlets and large ears. The eyes are open as if he is viewing the world with detachment. His facial features are perfectly chiselled with a faint touch of a smile at the corner of the lips that embody a calm inner peace and vitality. His shoulders are broad, the arms stretch straight down and the figure has no support from the thigh upwards.
Devotees worship the 57-foot-high monolithic Gomateshwara statue on Vindyagiri in Shravanabelagola, around 160 km west of Bengaluru. PTI Photo
The Mahamastakabhisheka begins by devotees carrying 1,008 specially prepared vessels (kalashes). The statue is then bathed and anointed with libations such as water, milk, sugarcane juice, and saffron paste, and sprinkled with powders of sandalwood, turmeric, and vermilion. The Mahamastakabhisheka is the largest gathering of Jains in the world. Over 1 million devotees are expected to attend the consecration ceremonies in 2018. The Mahamastakabhisheka will be performed during the period of February 17 to February 25, 2018. The day of February 21st, 2018 has been set aside as a special day for the NRI's to perform Abhishek of Bhagwan Bahubali. PTI Photo
Security personnel along with their sniffer dogs inspect the area around the statue. Thousands of Jain devotees will attend the Mahamastakabhisheka (head anointing ceremony) on February 17. Around 5,500 police personnel, including different forces of the state will be deployed during the event. CCTV cameras, drones are being used for the first time in Shravanabelagola to keep an eye on the developments. PTI photo