In India, the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti is a prominent day for the Jains, as it marks the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira—who was believed to be the 24th and last teaching god of the current time cycle. In Jain terms, Lord Mahavira was their last Tirthankara. The day is traditionally known as MahavirJanmaKalyanak, in Jainism. The day falls on different dates every year and as per the Gregorian calendar, it can fall on any date between the months of March and April. In 2017, it is being celebrated on the 9th of April, which is a Sunday. Last year in 2016, it was observed on the 19th of April.
The Jains celebrate this day with a lot of dedication and enthusiasm, visiting Jain temples, offering prayers and observing religious rituals. Various satsangs too are conducted at Jain houses and temples to commemorate the day, with religious songs and prayers to Lord Mahavir, which is followed by distributing Prasad and food to everyone, including the poor and needy.
Ideally, the day is also observed by a procession called the RathaYatra, wherein a chariot carrying the idol of Lord Mahavir is taken out on the roads, with religious Jain bhajans being played. The abhishekha, meaning a ceremonious bath also takes place wherein all the local idols of Lord Mahavir are bathed ceremoniously. Majority of the followers of Jainism during daytime engage themselves in either meditation, prayers, or some charitable acts where they donate money, clothes, and food to the needy. Lord Mahavir was a believer of non-violence, and hence on Mahavir Jayanti, various rallies promoting his preaching on non-violence are conducted to spread his message across all communities. On this day in particular, the Jain Temples are flooded with people from the Jain community and each and every one of them is in high spirits to celebrate the occasion.
Mahavir Jayanti is generally treated as a national holiday.
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