10-day Jain Mahamastakabhisheka religious festival continues in India


Thousands of Jains flock to Karkala, India, as the 10-day Mahamastakabhisheka festival, only held once every 12 years, begins.

A massive Jain ceremony that honors Lord Bahubali is beginning in the Indian city of Karkala. This 10-day ceremony only takes place once every 12 years, and has caused the city to be flooded with thousands of individuals who have come to take part in it. The rich history of the Mahamastakabhisheka ceremony is centered on a massive stone that is made in the image of Lord Bahubali, and serves as the centerpiece for the activities.

The Mahamastakabhisheka

On January 21, the official opening of the celebration began with the Mahamastakabhisheka ritual, which involves cleansing the 42-foot statue of Lord Bahubali. This process involves pouring holy water over the statue after purifying it with a concoction of coconut water, sugarcane juice, and sandalwood: each with a special significance. For example, the coconut milk serves as a symbol of purity, while the sugarcane juice is meant to put an end to hunger. The goal of the cleansing process is not only to purify the statue, but also to purify the individuals who are witnessing the ceremony. According to religious officials, every person that takes part in the ceremony is able to be purified the same as the statue. This has prompted thousands of individuals to come to Karkala to take part in the purification.

During the opening ceremony 108 different kalashas (ceremonial pitchers) are poured over the statue, with an additional 100 being added each day. By the final day of the ceremony, 1008 different kalashas are poured over the statue, ending the cleansing and purification ritual.

As Jains gather to be purified in spirit in the city of Karkala, there is a hope that the ceremony will be able to get back on its 12-year celebration cycle. Many different reasons have come up that left the last one occurring in 2002, and the one before that occurring some 28 years ago. With such a powerful message of peace and unity, this celebration is being approached with reverence as well as hope that it will inspire people to treat one another better in the years to come.

What is Jainism?

Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world and is founded on a belief system which espouses harmlessness and renunciation. They preach non-violence towards one another and place a special significance on self-sacrifice for the betterment of society. While the Mahamastakabhisheka is a Jain celebration, it is known for uplifting the spirit of everyone in the area.


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