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Jains celebrate with procession, prayers & Prasad

    Nagpur (Maharashtra), April 5, 2012: It’s a fine congregation of faith, prosperity and community bonding at Chitnavis Park every year on the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti. City’s Jain community gathers to meet, pray and eat. A rough estimate puts the number of people who gather here at 10,000. The food spread comprises of at least fifty-six of the best dishes.

    These festivities are a culmination of a weeklong programme that is organized by the various organisational bodies of the Jain community.

    The city has some 29 Jain temples where people from all four sects worship. For the Mahavir Jayanti celebrations, which the community calls Janam Kalyanak Mahotsav, all the four sects come together under the umbrella of Jain Seva Mandal.

    An impressive procession, which winds its way around the bigger Jain temples in the city, announces the beginning of the celebrations. This event is held four days ahead of the main day. On Mahavir Jayanti a discourse by saints, abhishek of the lord followed by distribution of mahaprasad is organized at Chitnavis Park in Mahal.

    Rohit Shah, president of the Jain Seva Mandal says that the aim is to spread the message of ahimsa and peace given by the Jain teertankars to mankind. “On this day we take the idol of Mahavir Bhagwan from the Digambar Jain temple in Itwari to Chitnavis Park in a procession led by a chariot which carries the idol. This year the procession will be graced by the presence of Aryika Adarshmati Mataji. At the venue we have discourses by our saints, prayers are offered and the most significant ritual, abhishek of the lord is performed.”

    The Jain community comprises of Marwaris, Gujaratis, Maharashtrians and people from states of MP and UP all united by faith. Thus Mahavir Jayanti celebrations besides having religious connotations also have a social angle to it. Shah adds, “Our programme includes felicitation and disbursement of scholarship to bright students. We invite imminent persons of the city and also organize medical camps.”

    There are around 18,000 Jain households in the city. Most make it a point to be present for these celebrations. The Swami Vatsalya or the sumptuous feast that follows the rituals is cooked to cater to this large number of devotees. The food is specific to Jains who observe rigorous dietary restrictions. It is prepared by the acharyas specially appointed for this occasion.

    Explaining the significance of the abhishek on this occasion, Manju Jain, who has studied the Jain scriptures to utilize them for holistic purposes says, “This ritual is symbolic of washing away all the impurities of mind and thought. When we perform it on the lord, it amounts to our impurities being washed away. Besides the abhishek which is done by offering a steady flow of water, there is also Shanti Dhaara where drop by drop water is poured on the idol. This water is distributed among all the devotees by the priest.” Manju says that she fasts on this day as abstinence forms the cornerstone of her religion. – News Courtesy: Times of India

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