Starting from February 7 until the 26 of the month, the grand Mahamastakabhisheka or head anointing ceremony is being performed to the 57 feet monolithic Gomateshwara statue at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. This sacred ritual occurs once in 12 years.
The anointing ceremony of the statue will begin at 5 a.m. on February 17.
There will be religious programmes till 2 p.m. when anointment will begin.
Shravanabelagola, around 50 km from Hassan district headquarters, is a sacred centre for the followers of Jainism, especially those of the Digambar sect. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya (340-298 BC), the founder of the Mauryan dynasty, and his spiritual teacher Bhadrabahu settled here finally.
The story of the abdication of his kingdom and renunciation of the world by observing sallekhana vrata (slow starvation) is captured in the carvings in the Chandragupta basadi. Subsequent rulers of other dynasties continued to patronise the region, and in the 10th century, during the reign of the Ganga king Rachamalla IV (973-999), his minister Chavundaraya (Chamundaraya), commissioned the building of the Gomateshwara statue on Indragiri Hill that towers over the surroundings.
The vines winding around the body depict the legend of Bhagawan Bahubali, who is also known as Lord Gomateshwara. Bahubali, the son of the first Tirthankara Bhagawan Rishabha Deva, was very troubled after winning a war against his brother, and gave up the material word. He took up the life of an ascetic and meditated for many years. Anthills formed on the ground around him, snakes coiled at his feet and creepers grew on him. The fruit of his dedication was enlightenment.
To mark this epochal event, the festival of Mahamastakabhisheka is held once every 12 years during which the Gomateshwara statue is anointed with milk, saffron, turmeric, yoghurt and gold coins. Thousands of Jain devotees from across the country gather to seek his blessings.
Close to this statue is the Chandragiri Hill that is dotted with a number of basadis. The Chavundaraya basadi is said to be one of the largest; it was possibly built by Chavundaraya in the year 982, and additions were made in later years to the temple.
It enshrines Neminatha Tirthankara in the lower garbhagriha and Parsvanatha Tirthankara in the upper one.
Sourced from: Marvels of Karnataka & more (Raintree Media)