Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated with grand chariot processions and ceremonies in temples.  India has produced many great saints and spiritual leaders.  The days commemorating the birthdays or the incidents connected with the lives of these great sons of the soil are considered especially holy.  Both the Digambar (sky-clad) and the Shewetambar (white-clad) Jains observe the thirteenth day of the bright half of the Chaitra month (March – April) as the birthday of Lord Mahavira.
The birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira is celebrated by the entire Jain community throughout the country, but it is celebrated with a special fervour in Rajasthan and Gujarat, where the Jains are relatively in greater number than in other states.  Jain pilgrims from all over the country congregate at the ancient Jain shrines at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat and at Mahavirji in Rajasthan.  Pawapur and Vaishali in Bihar are other such centres of pilgrimage.  Vaishali being his birth place, a grand festival is held there, and it is known as Vaishali Mahotsava.

Life History

Lord Mahavira was the twenty-fourth and the last Thirthanakara of the Jain religion.  He was born in 599 B.C. in Bihar, India on the 13th day of bright fortnight in the month of Chaitra i.e.  chaitra sudi teras.
King Siddharth and queen Trishala’s son, the prince was given the name of Vardhaman at birth.  At the age of thirty, he left his family and royal household to become a monk.  The Lord practised severe austerities and deepmedition for the subsequent twelve years.  He then reached the village Jrambhika and stayed on the banks of the river Rijuvaluka where he attained keval Gyan/Omniscience on the Tenth day of the bright half of the month of Vaisakh i.e. Vaisakh Sudi Dasam.
Mahaviraswami spent the next 30 years preaching the path to eternal freedom or Moksha.  At the age of 72, Lord mahavira attained Nirvana and his purified soul left his body.

Celebrations

On this auspicious day, grand chariot processions with the images of Mahavira are taken out, rich ceremonies are held in the temples, fasts and charities are observed, Jain scriptures are read, and at some places grand fairs are set up.
Mahavirs, the great teacher and the twenty-fourth Tirthankara of Jainism was a contemporary of Lord Buddha.  His mother Trisala or Priyakarini had a series of miraculous dreams heralding the birth of Mahavira.  Vardhaman achieved enlightenment under an Ashoka tree after two and a half days fasting and meditation.  Then he stripped himself of all his clothes and wore none thereafter, but Shwetambars believe that Indra then presented him a white robe.
After his enlightenment, he gave away all his wealth and possessions and owned nothing.  Mahavira underlined the importance of austerity and complete non-violence as the essential means of spiritual evolution and salvation.