Jain 'Maha Kumbh' at Shravanabelagola begins tomorrow

Jain 'Maha Kumbh' at Shravanabelagola begins tomorrow

Jain 'Maha Kumbh' at Shravanabelagola begins tomorrow

Lakhs of devotees from all over the country and abroad are expected to gather at Shravanabelagola, the Jain pilgrimage centre, for Lord Bahubali's 'Mahamastakabhisheka', a once in 12-year ritual, that begins tomorrow.

The ceremony is an integral part of the ancient and composite Jain tradition at the pilgrimage centre here.

Rituals related to the Mahamastakabhisheka, or head anointment ceremony, were set in motion on February 7 by President Ram Nath Kovind. The main ceremony will, however, begin from tomorrow and continue till February 25.

According to Charukiriti Bhattarak Swami, the chief of Jain Muth, which is based in Shravanabelagola, an estimated 30 to 40 lakh devotees are expected to attend the ceremony.

The 57 ft-high statue of Lord Bahubali, son of the first Jain Tirthankara Adinath, located on Vindyagiri hill here, was carved from a single rock and is said to be the world's tallest monolithic granite statue.

The 2018 ceremony is the 88th in the series that began in 981 A.D during the Ganga dynasty.

The Mahamastakabhisheka ceremony has been regularly performed every 12 years since then, much like the Kumbh.

As the Mahamastakabhisheka begins, consecrated water is sprinkled on the participants by devotees carrying 1,008 specially prepared vessels. The statue is then bathed and anointed with milk, sugarcane juice and saffron paste, and sprinkled with sandalwood, turmeric, and vermilion.

Offerings are made of petals, gold and silver coins and precious stones. During the last Mahamastakabhisheka in 2006, the ceremony's finale included an enormous shower of flowers from a waiting helicopter.

Massive arrangements have been made for the grand event. As many as 12 temporary townships with all the basic amenities have been built, said BN Varaprasad Reddy, special government officer for the event.

"A separate township meant for Jain sadhus, called 'Thyagi Nagar', has been built. There are separate townships for volunteers, media persons and devotees. These places have been provided with underground drainage, drinking water, lighting and other basic essentials," he said.

Thousands of tents have been erected around two kilometres from the two hillocks, dotted with numerous temples.

The government has earmarked Rs 300 crore for the entire event, officials said.

At least 5,000 police personnel and 2,000 home guards will be deployed in addition to plainclothes men for security duty.

On February 7, the president had said Shravanabelagola had long been a centre of religion, spirituality and Indian culture.

By building this figure, artisans breathed life into a lifeless granite rock. 'Ahimsa Paramo Dharma' (non-violence is the ultimate duty) is completely reflected in this image, Kovind said.

"The creepers carved on Bahubali's statue are not just an indicator of his intense ascetic life, they also show how he was one with nature and was away from pretences," he said.

Located between the two hillocks of Vindyagiri and Chandragiri, Shravanabelagola has been a Jain pilgrimage centre for the past 2,500 years.

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