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Mahavir Jayanti

Every year, in the vibrant month of Chaitra (falling between March and April), the Jain community comes together to celebrate Mahavir Jayanti, a festival brimming with spiritual significance. This joyous occasion commemorates the birth of Lord Mahavir, the 24th and last Tirthankara (spiritual leader) of Jainism. This day holds significant importance in Jainism, symbolizing the teachings and principles of non-violence, truth, compassion, self-discipline, and liberation. This auspicious occasion is celebrated with immense devotion and fervor by Jains across the globe. Special prayers, known as ‘Mahavir Janma Kalyanak,’ are organized, followed by devotional songs and hymns praising Lord Mahavir.

When is Mahavir Jayanti Celebrated?

The festival falls on the thirteenth day of the waxing moon in the Chaitra month of the Jain calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, this translates to either March or April. In 2024, Mahavir Jayanti was observed on April 21st.

The Life of Lord Mahavir

Lord Mahavir was born in the ancient kingdom of Vaishali, present-day Bihar, India. From a young age, he displayed a deep sense of spirituality and a profound understanding of life’s mysteries. At the age of 30, Mahavir renounced his crown, worldly possessions, and embarked on a spiritual quest. He spent 12 years in asceticism, meditating and practicing austerity. At 72, Mahavir attained ‘Kevala Jnana’ (omniscience) and became known as Sage Vardhamana. His teachings emphasized non-violence (ahimsa), truth (satya), non-stealing (asteya), chastity (brahmacharya), and non-attachment (aparigraha). His teachings laid the foundation for Jainism, emphasizing the path of non-violence and self-discipline.

Understanding Jainism

Jainism is an ancient Indian religion founded in the Indus Valley Civilization around 3000 BCE. It is based on the teachings of the Tirthankaras, enlightened beings who have attained spiritual liberation. Jainism promotes a life of non-violence, truthfulness, ethical conduct, compassion towards all living beings, and liberation from the cycle of rebirth. The motto of Jainism is “Parasparopagraho Jīvānām” (the function of souls is to help one another).

A Glimpse into the Teachings

Jainism is founded on three core principles: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), and Aparigraha (non-attachment). These core principles serve as the foundation of Jainism, guiding followers in leading a life of compassion, truthfulness, and spiritual awareness.

Here are some key tenets of Jainism:

Ahimsa (Non-violence)

Mahavir propagated non-violence, advocating, love, and respect for every form of life. His exceptional control over his senses earned him the name Mahavira (Great Hero). Jains believe that every living being, whether it’s a human, animal, or even a microscopic organism, possesses a soul and should be treated with kindness and care. Practicing Ahimsa involves avoiding harm to others through actions, words, or even thoughts, promoting peace and harmony in the world. Jains consume satvik food—vegetarian meals prepared without onion or garlic—to minimize harm to living creatures.

Anekāntavāda (Multiple Viewpoints)

Jainism acknowledges the existence of multiple perspectives on reality. There’s no single absolute truth, and different viewpoints can be partially correct.

Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness) 

Aparigraha teaches the principle of non-attachment or non-possession. It encourages individuals to live a life free from excessive materialism and greed, promoting simplicity, contentment, and detachment from worldly possessions. Jains believe that excessive attachment to material things can lead to suffering and hinder spiritual growth. By embracing Aparigraha, Jains strive to find inner peace, balance, and spiritual enlightenment by focusing on the inner self rather than external possessions.

Asceticism and Self-discipline

Jains believe in practicing self-discipline and leading an ascetic life. This includes observing vows like celibacy, non-stealing, and truthfulness. It encourages individuals to always speak the truth and uphold honesty in their actions and thoughts. Jain teachings emphasize the importance of integrity, transparency, and sincerity in all aspects of life. By practicing Satya, Jains aim to foster trust, build strong relationships, and maintain moral integrity in society.

Moksha (Liberation)

The ultimate goal in Jainism is to achieve moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth and suffering. This liberation is attained through spiritual growth, self-realization, and detachment from worldly desires.

How is Mahavir Jayanti Celebrated?

Jain communities worldwide celebrate Mahavir Jayanti with a spirit of devotion, peace, and social responsibility. As Jains celebrate this auspicious day, they strive for inner peace and harmony, following the path illuminated by their revered spiritual leader. Here’s a glimpse into the key observances:

  • Prayers and Poojas (Worship):Jain temples become vibrant centers of activity. Jain temples witness special rituals, including the Abhisheka (ritual bath) of Lord Mahavir’s idol. Devotees offer prayers, recite hymns dedicated to Lord Mahavira, and participate in special pujas (worship rituals).
  • Processions and Rathayatras (Chariot Processions):Particularly grand processions are held, often featuring an ornately decorated chariot carrying an idol of Lord Mahavira. Devotees sing devotional songs and hymns as the procession winds its way through the streets.
  • Fasting and Self-Discipline:Many Jains observe a day-long fast or undertake a partial fast, emphasizing self-control and introspection.
  • Non-Violence and Ahimsa (Non-harming):The core Jain principle of ahimsa is strongly reinforced. Jains may release captive animals or birds, volunteer at animal shelters, or double down on their commitment to vegetarianism.
  • Charity and Seva (Selfless Service):Donating food, clothing, or other essentials to the underprivileged is a significant aspect of the celebration. Community kitchens (langars) are often set up to distribute free meals. Jains may also volunteer their time for various social causes.
  • Meditation and Self-Reflection:Mahavir Jayanti serves as a potent reminder for Jains to dedicate time to meditation and self-reflection. This allows them to delve deeper into the teachings of Lord Mahavira and strive towards personal liberation.
  • Family Gatherings and Cultural Programs:Jains also celebrate with a sense of community. Families come together for festive meals and share stories about Lord Mahavira’s life and teachings. Cultural programs featuring music, dance, and dramas based on Jain scriptures may be organized.

Significance of the Celebrations

Mahavir Jayanti transcends a mere birthday celebration. It’s a day to reflect on the profound teachings of Lord Mahavira, whose life exemplified the path to spiritual enlightenment. It encourages people to follow the path of righteousness and embrace the principles of Jainism in their daily lives. Jains believe that Mahavira attained moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirth) and through his teachings, offered humanity a roadmap to achieve the same.

Mahavir Jayanti

The Everlasting Message of Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti transcends a religious celebration. It’s a universal call for peace, harmony, and living a life of ethical conduct. Lord Mahavira’s teachings hold immense relevance in today’s world. Here’s how his message continues to resonate:

  • Importance of Non-Violence:In a world grappling with conflict and violence, the Jain principle of ahimsa offers a powerful alternative. Mahavir Jayanti reminds us to cultivate compassion and respect for all living beings, fostering a more peaceful world.
  • Mindfulness and Self-Control:In our fast-paced lives, Mahavir Jayanti serves as a reminder for introspection and self-control. Through meditation and ethical conduct, we can achieve inner peace and navigate life’s challenges with greater clarity.
  • Simple Living and Environmental Responsibility:Jainism’s emphasis on non-possessiveness encourages mindful consumption and a simpler way of life. This aligns with the growing environmental concerns, urging us to live more sustainably and reduce our ecological footprint.
  • Respect for All Viewpoints:In a world rife with ideological clashes, the Jain principle of anekāntavāda promotes tolerance and understanding. By acknowledging diverse perspectives, we can foster more productive dialogue and build bridges across divides.

Celebrating Mahavir Jayanti Beyond the Jain Community

While Mahavir Jayanti holds special significance for Jains, the core values it celebrates are universal. Here’s how everyone can participate in the spirit of the festival:

  • Practice Non-Violence:Make a conscious effort to cultivate non-violence in your daily interactions. This could involve adopting a vegetarian diet, using kind words, or resolving conflicts peacefully.
  • Volunteer for a Cause:Reflect on the Jain principle of seva and volunteer your time or resources for a cause you care about. This act of selflessness aligns with the spirit of Mahavir Jayanti.
  • Reduce Your Consumption:Take a step towards simple living by reducing unnecessary consumption. Evaluate your buying habits, minimize waste, and appreciate what you already have.
  • Learn About Jainism:Mahavir Jayanti is an excellent opportunity to explore Jain philosophy. Read about Lord Mahavira’s teachings and how they can be applied to your own life.


By embracing the spirit of Mahavir Jayanti, we can all contribute to a more peaceful, compassionate, and sustainable world. Let this festival be a springboard for introspection, positive change, and a renewed commitment to living a life aligned with ahimsa, self-control, and respect for all beings.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Mahavir Jayanti?

Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated on the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism.

  1. Why is Mahavir Jayanti important?

Mahavir Jayanti is significant as it celebrates the teachings of Lord Mahavir, emphasizing non-violence, truth, and compassion.

  1. How is Mahavir Jayanti celebrated?

Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated with prayers, devotional songs, and special rituals at Jain temples.

  1. What are the core principles of Jainism?

The core principles of Jainism are Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), and Aparigraha (non-attachment).

  1. Where can I learn more about Jainism?

You can learn more about Jainism by visiting Jain temples, reading books on Jain philosophy, or consulting with Jain scholars.

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