|Mahavir Janma Kalyanak|
Art depicting Mahavira's birth
|Also called||Translation: Birth Anniversary of Mahavira; Mahavir Janma Kalyanak|
|Type||Religious, India (National holiday)|
|Significance||Birth Anniversary of Mahavira|
|Celebrations||Going to the Jain Temple|
|Observances||Prayers, religious rituals|
|Date||Decided by the Jain calendar (Vira Nirvana Samvat)|
|2014 date||13 April, Sunday|
|2015 date||2 April, Thursday|
Mahavir Jayanti, also known as Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, is the most important religious holiday for Jains. It celebrates the birth of Mahavira, twenty fourth and the last Tirthankara of the present time cycle. On the Gregorian calendar, the holiday occurs either in March or April.
Most modern historians consider Vasokund as Mahavira's birthplace. According to Jain texts, Mahavira was born on the thirteenth day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Chaitra in the year 599 BCE. Mahavira was born in a democratic kingdom (Ganarajya), Vajji, where the king was chosen by votes. Vaishali was its capital.
Today, though Jain families are not present at Vasokund, Mahavira is still much revered by the villagers. A place called Ahalya bhumi has not been ploughed for hundreds of years by the family that owns it, as it is considered to be the birthplace of Mahavira.
Mahavira was born into royalty as the son of King Siddartha of Kundgraam and Queen Trishala. During her pregnancy, Trishala was believed to have had a number of auspicious dreams, all signifying the coming of a great soul. The exact number of dreams differs according to the school of Jainism; Svetambaras generally believe that the actual number is fourteen while Digambaras claim sixteen instead. Regardless, the astrologers who interpreted these dreams claimed that the child would become either a Chakravarti or a Tirthankara. It is said that when Queen Trishala gave birth to Mahavira, the god-king Indra bathed the newborn himself with celestial milk, a ritual essentially marking him as a Tirthankara.
The idol of Mahavira is carried out on a chariot, in a procession called rath yatra. On the way bhajans (religious rhymes) are recited.  Local statues of Mahavira are given a ceremonial bath called the abhisheka. During the day, most members of the Jain community engage in some sort of charitable act. Many devotees visit temples dedicated to Mahavira to meditate and offer prayers. Lectures by monks and nuns are held in temples to preach the path of virtue as defined by Jainism. Donations are collected in order to promote charitable missions like saving cows from slaughter or helping to feed poor people. Ancient Jain temples across India typically see an extremely high volume of practitioners come to pay their respects and join in the celebrations.
Ahimsa run and rallies
On April 1, 2015, President of India extended his greeting on the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti.
|“||"When the world is faced with multiple challenges, the philosophy and teachings of ahiṃsā, truth and compassion enunciated by Bhagwan Mahavira hold great significance. Let us on this auspicious day resolve to ceaselessly strive for harmony and amity in our country and across the world”. - Pranab Mukherjee||”|
- "Official Govt of India Mahavir Jayanti 2012 date". Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- "Mahavir Jayanti 2013 date". TN Government Holidays. 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
- Concise Encyclopaedia of India - K.R. Gupta & Amita Gupta - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Vasokund - Mahavira’s birthplace
- Kristi L. Wiley: Historical Dictionary of Jainism, Lanham 2004, p. 134.
- Jalaj 2011, p. 4.
- Rath yatra
- Ahimsa run
- Ahimsa rally
- President's Greetings on the Eve of Mahavir Jayanti
- Mahavir Jayanti Greetings, Tamil Nadu
- Maharashtra Governor greets people on ‘Mahavir Jayanti’
- Jalaj, Dr. Jaykumar (2011), The Basic Thought of Bhagavan Mahavir, Mumbai, India: Hindi Granth Karyalay, ISBN 978-81-88769-41-4
- Jain, Manoj (2014), Mahavira: The Hero of Nonviolence, World Wisdom, Incorporated, ISBN 978-1-937786-21-2
- The Basic Thought of Bhagavan Mahavir by Dr. Jaykumar Jalaj
- History of Jainism
- Lord Mahavira Sayings
- Mahavira Jayanti