President Ramnath Kovind is set to light a lamp, kicking off an array of festivities.

Mahamastakabhisheka begins on Wed first woman to lead mega Jain festival in Ktaka
news Religion Wednesday, February 07, 2018 - 08:58

The 88th Mahamastakabhisheka is set to begin at Shravanabelegola in Hassan on Wednesday with Sarita Jain becoming the first woman at the helm in the history of the Jain festival.

The mega Jain festival, held once in twelve years, will begin from February 17 and  continue till February 25 and has drawn thousands of Jain seers and devotees from across the country.

While the head anointment begins on February 17, the rituals related to Mahamastakabhisheka are set to begin on Wednesday.

President Ramnath Kovind is set to light a lamp erected on a massive stage at Chavundaraya Sabha Mantap on the outskirts of the town on Wednesday morning ,kicking off an array of festivities. 

"I consider myself very luck. We are working hard for the Mahamastakabisheka, the head anointing ceremony performed once in 12 years to the monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali," said Sarita Jain, while speaking to Times of India. Sarita is the national president of Bharatvarsheeya Digamber Jain Teerthkshetra Committee and a grandmother of four and has been working quietly for the past two years to make the mega Jain festival possible.

Lakhs of devotees are expected to turn up in Shravanabelegola in the next few months. Such is the rush to offer kalashas (holy vessels) that authorities have extended offerings till June to accommodate all devotees. 

A wide array of artists will perform during the month in cultural programmes held every evening from February 7 to 26. The Department of Kannada and Culture has invited Pandit Uday Kumar Mallick, TM Krishna, Vijay Prakash, Gurukiran among others to perform. 

Meanwhile, a liquor ban has been imposed for the entire month while the panchayat has ordered the closure of all non-vegetarian hotels for the month of February, reported The Hindu.

According to officials, about 2.25 lakh people are expected to visit the town for the mega Jain observance. The pilgrim town has been spruced up at an estimated cost of Rs 175 crore for the fest.

Charukeerthi Bhattarakha of the Jain Mutt here said: "The anointment of Bahubali statue once in 12 years is a great event not only for the Jain community but all those who regard the teachings of Jainism and renunciation."

The ancient town is also home to about 500 rock inscriptions, protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made with thousands of pilgrims visiting the town, said Karnataka Director General of Police Neelamani Raju, adding CCTV cameras and hundreds of policemen would be deployed to monitor the crowds.

(With Inputs from IANS)