- Mahavir Jayanti 2018 falls on March 29 this year.
- Jains take out grand processions on the day of the festival.
- Jains eat meals that exclude root veggies, fungi and yeast as well.
Mahavir Jayanti 2018: Significance And Celebrations
Mahavir Jayanti, as mentioned above, marks the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir, and it is a sacred day for the Jain community. There is some debate about his date of birth, with the Shwetambar Jains believing that he was born in 599 BC, while the Digambar Jains believing that the Lord was born in 615 BC. Mahavir was a proponent of non-violence, and preached love and respect of all kinds of living beings, from the tiniest micro-organisms to the largest multi-celled creatures.
This tenet of Jainism still holds true for followers of the religion, who celebrate Mahavir Jayanti in a grand way. Celebrations of Mahavir Jayanti include huge processions, which may feature elephants, horses, chariots, drummers and chanters. Sometimes, a statue of Lord Mahavir is being carried out in a decorated cradle. Some people offer silent prayers, and recite Lord Mahavir's sermons to other fellow followers on the day of the festival. In India, Gujarat and Rajasthan have the highest number of Jains, and hence, the celebrations are especially ardent.
Mahavir Jayanti 2018: The Jain Philosophy Of Food
Jains are known for their stringent food habits and their strict abstinence from certain foods like onions and garlic, which are both root vegetables. So, every dish that is cooked during Mahavir Jayanti should never include either of these two vegetables. Jains are strict adherents of vegetarianism as the Mahavir's teachings talk about minimising pain to other creatures. Naturally then, Jains steer clear of all non-vegetarians dishes, so as to follow the path of non-violence or ahimsa.
Other important aspects of the Jain philosophy of food includes eating food before sundown, mainly to spare the creatures that come out in the dark and eating fresh and healthy. Besides staying away from root vegetables and tubers, Jains also don't include mushrooms and other edible fungi as well as edible yeasts in their diet. They believe that eating these things would mean killing the parasites on them, which in turn would attract bad Karma. The Jain way of eating is known as the satvik diet and the central idea is to eat fresh meals prepared from nature's goodness and with minimum harm to living creatures.