Shravanabelagola, an ancient town in Hassan district of Karnataka, is gearing up for the mega event of Mahamastakabhisheka from 17th February to 25th February 2018.
Mahamastakabhisheka, the head anointing ceremony of 58 feet high monolithic idol of Lord Gomateshwara Bahubali, is observed once every 12 years in the Jain Dharmic cycle. He holds a very high regard among the Jain people as he was the first one to have attained salvation. Mahamastabhisheka is one of the biggest and important festivals for Jain community.
The ceremony in 2018 will be the 88th in the series that commenced in the year 981 AD and second Mahamastakabhisheka of the 21st century. The ceremony is expected to be graced by numerous Jain ascetics. The event will be held under the leadership of His Holiness Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji of Shravanabelagola.
The inauguration of the event will be held on 7th February 2018. The Pancha Kalyana Pratishtha Mahotsava and other religious programmes will be held between February 8th and 16th. The anointment of the statue will begin on 17th February and end on 25th February. The valedictory will be held on the next day. More than 1 million devotees are expected to attend the event this year.
The celebration involves smearing the idol from the contents of 1008 pots carried by the devotees. The preparation for the event starts around 18 days before the due date. On the main day of the festival, the worship of the Lord begins from early morning. Devotees place the 1008 pots near the feet of the Babubali Statue. A large number of priests chant divine hymns as devotees carry the pots to reach the top of the huge statue. After climbing around 600 stairs, the devotees reach the top of the idol and pour water on it.
The idol is then smeared with various things like milk, turmeric paste, rice flour, coconut water, sandalwood, sugarcane juice, vermilion, and 52 varieties of flowers. Then the lord is also offered precious stones and gold and silver coins as a mark of respect. The ceremony continues for around 10 hours during which countless devotees show their devotion to the Lord. The people of Jain community believe that attending this ceremony is helpful for uplifting their souls.
Shravanabelagola is one of the most popular Jain pilgrimage center in South India and among the popular one day trip from Bangalore. The little town is famous for Lord Bahubali Statue which is supposed to be the tallest monolithic stone statue in the world with a height of 58 feet. The statue was carved during the period of Chamundaraya, a minister of the Ganga King Rajamalla between 982 and 983 CE.
Shravanabelagola is famous for two hills called Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri where most of the monuments are located. There are several historical basadis within the town as well. The main temple of Gomateswara, among the top places to visit in Shravanabelagola, is located on Vindhyagiri hill along with Odegal Basadi, Tyagada Kamba, Siddhara Basadi, Chennanna Basadi, Akhanda Bagilu, etc. Chandragiri is home for about 14 shrines among which Chamundaraya Basadi, Chandragupta Basadi, Chandraprabha Basadi, Kattale Basadi and Parshwanatha Basadi are important.