One of the most auspicious and important day for Jains is Mahavir Jayanti. The Jain community celebrates a very limited number of festivals and Mahavir Jayanti is a major one for them.
It is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Mahavir, a great sage who is considered to be the 24th and last Tirthankara of Kaliyuga.
Vardhamana, as he is sometimes referred to as, was the founder of Jainism. It was his original name. He was born in 540 BC on the 13th day in the Chaitra month in the brighter half or the Shukla Paksha according to Hindu calendar. This year, this day is falling on 29th March. He was born in the village Kundagrama near Vaisali to the chief of a Kshatriya clan Siddhartha and Princess Trishala.
Jains all across the globe celebrate the day remembering the teachings and tales related to the great saint. The spiritual teachings hold special significance in the lives of the Jains. They are the foundation of the Jain religion in itself and the community tries to remember and follow all that he preached with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Tirthankara is someone who shows the people the right way to live their lives. The last Tirthankara of Jains advocated non-violence and peace. There were 23 more Tirthankara before Mahavira, but details about their lives except a little about the 23rd Tirthankara, Parsvanatha is unknown to history.
Parsvanatha had given four principles of leading a pure life, which was truth, non-violence, non-stealing, and non-possession. Mahavira added a fifth one to it, which was Brahmacharya or celibacy. He preached that for leading a righteous and fulfilling life and to cross the stream of existence these five qualities are very much required.
According to him, the real purpose of life is the discovery and purification of soul. He laid great emphasis on leading a truly good life and people try to follow the conditions he gave for it. These conditions, known as the Tri-Ratna, were to have the Right Faith and Right Knowledge followed by the Right Action. Once a person follows this tri-Ratna, he can discover his own soul. Then, by following the virtuous living, he purifies it.
His teachings held a lot of importance and significance in the lives of Jains. Every year, they celebrate his birthday by carrying out chariot procession and singing bhajans praising their great sage.
This festival carries a greater quantum of heritage significance and the day signifies humbleness and merriment.