Mahamastakabhisheka is one among the most important and important festivals for Jain community, celebrated once every twelve years at Shravanabelagola city situated in Karnataka. It’s primarily a head anointing (Abhishek) ceremony of 57 feet high monolithic idol of Lord Gomateshwara Bahubali, a revered Jain icon. He holds a really high regard among the Jain people as he was the primary one to possess attained salvation. The last ceremony was last held in February 2018 and therefore the next abhishek is scheduled in 2030.
What are Rituals and History behind the Celebration of Mahamastakabhisheka Festival
Mahamastakabhisheka, the grand festival of Shravanabelagola is widely known with great enthusiasm and zeal. the most reason or story behind the celebration of this festival is extremely interesting. consistent with the legends, king Rishabhadeva, the primary Tirthankara (an individual who achieves immortality by enlightenment) had two children, Bahubali and Bharata. The king followed the traditions of Varnashrama Dharma thanks to which he had to relinquish the worldly pleasures after performing his duties. He decided to divide his property among his two sons. The urban communities of Ayodhya and Podanpur were separated among the senior sibling Bharata and Bahubali individually.
Bharata had a desire to overcome all the kingdoms of earth and become a chakravarti samrat (emperor). In his quest to realize this objective he attacked many neighboring kingdoms and conquered them. He was very jealous of his brother Bahubali kingdom’s wealth and prosperity. Bharata decided to overcome the dominion of his brother. However, so as to avoid the death of the many innocent soldiers, two of them decided to battle by gazing into each other’s eyes, throwing water and grappling (wrestling) with one another . Bahubali won each of those three battles.
Bharata felt deeply humiliated and during a fit of rage, he threw a chariot wheel at Bahubali. However, the wheel contained the divine powers and didn’t harm Bahubali. At that moment, Bahubali realized that the lust for power can make a brother enemy. So, he decided to renounce his kingdom to look for a divine peace. Bahubali decided to perform a penance (mediate) by standing on his feet so as to ask forgiveness from the God.
Despite observing penance for several years, he could gain the supreme knowledge (enlightenment or nirvana). This was because; Bahubali wasn’t ready to free himself from the thinking that he was standing on the land of his brother Bharata. He prayed at his feet that asked Bahubali to negate this thought. As soon as Bahubali stopped thinking that the land belonged to his elder brother Bharata, he achieved complete enlightenment and attained salvation. When Bharata need to know that his brother has achieved salvation, he decided to construct an outsized gold idol of Bahubali at Podanpura.
On today , the large idol of the Lord is smeared with 1008 jal kalashas (pots) from devotees coming back from various parts of the planet . The preparation for the festival starts from 18 days (approx.) beforehand . On the day of the ceremony, the devotees begin to worship the Lord early morning. The 1008 vessels or pots are kept underneath the icon. The priests chanting divine hymns ask the devotees to hold the vessels, climb around 600 stairs to succeed in at the highest of the statue. Upon reaching the highest , the devotees then pour water on the idol. the mantra of the holy mantras and trumpets certainly make the environment unforgettable.
The statue is then smeared with the coconut milk , milk, sugarcane juice, turmeric paste, sandalwood, rice flour and 52 sorts of flowers collected from various parts of the planet . Precious stones, petals, gold and silver coins are offered as a mark of respect. The ceremony nearly takes 10 hours to finish . After the completion of the ceremony, the devotees walk down the steps crammed with a sense of fulfillment and utmost devotion towards the Lord.
How to Reach Shravanabelagola
Bangalore International Airport is the closest airport to reach Shravanabelagola. Upon reaching the airport, the visitors can take the buses, private cabs or taxis to reach their destination.
Shravanabelagola does not have a railway station of its own. The nearest railhead is Hassan city that is around 45 km from Shravanabelagola. The buses and taxis are available from the station to reach Shravanabelagola.
Shravanabelagola is around 160 km from Bangalore. The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) runs buses to Shravanabelagola city from Bangalore. Besides, Bangalore, the buses are quite conveniently available from Channarayapatna town that is about 11 km away from Shravanabelagola.