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The Mahamastakabhisheka festival

13-07-2017 04:00 PM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream

The Mahamastakabhisheka festival | My Indian Dream

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An important festival that is held every twelve years

The Mahamastakabhisheka is an important Jain festival which is held once in 12 years and involves the grand consecration of the statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali which is said to be the tallest free standing monolithic sculpture in the world.

The statue is situated in the town of Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. The  57,000 feet high statue which stands on a hill is carved out of light grey granite and can be seen as far away as 10 km.

In Jain tradition, Gaomata or Bahubali is the son of Adinatha, the first tirthankara. The statue of Bahubali is highly polished and stands erect in Kayotsarga pose with stiff unbent arms and legs and arms away from the body.

The magnificent statue is standing on a full bloomed lotus. The body is robust and taut with broad shoulders. Hair is curly and his nose and chin are clearly defined on the broad face. He has the signs of a Maha Purusha (great man) such as ears with long lobes and unusually long hands.

Creepers entwined in his body and big ant hills up to his thighs show the severe penance he had undertaken. He has a calm and resolute disposition and his subdued smile reflects his inner peace.

At the beginning of the Mahamastakabhisheka, consecrated water is sprinkled onto the participants by devotees carrying 1,008 specially prepared vessels.  The statue is bathed in milk, sugarcane juice and anointed with saffron paste. Then, powders of sandalwood, turmeric and vermillion are sprinkled. Offerings are usually made of petals, gold and silver coins and precious stones.

The last Mahamastakabhisheka was conducted in 2006 and included an enormous showering of flowers from a waiting helicopter in the ceremony’s grand finale.

The dates of the next Mahamastakabhisheka has already been announced. It will be held in 2018 between February 7 and26.

The event attracts lakhs of devotees from different parts of the world. Therefore, dates of the festival are announced well in advance.

The inauguration of the event will be held on February 7. Initially, religious programmes will be held and the veneration and anointment of the statue will commence on February 17 and will continue till February 25. The valedictory held on the next day will conclude this event which has a history of 1,000 years.


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