MAHAVIR JAYANTI:

        India has produced many great saints and spiritual leaders. The days commemorating the birthdays or the incidents connected with the lives of these great sons of the soil are considered especially holy. Both the Digambar (sky-clad) and the Shvetambar (white-clad) jains observe the 13th day of the bright half of the Chaitra month (March-April) as birthday of Lord Mahavira. The birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira is celebrated by the entire Jain Community, throughout the country, but it is celebrated with special charms in Rajasthan and Gujarat, where the Jains are relatively in greater number than in other states. Jain pilgrims from all over the country congregate at the ancient Jain shrines at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat and at Mahavirji in Rajasthan. Pawapuri and Vaishali in Bihar is other such centre of pilgrimage. Vaishali being his birth place, a grand festival is held there, and it is known as Vaishali Mahotsava.
        
        On this auspicious day grand chariot procession with the image of Mahavira are taken out, rich ceremonies are held in the temples, fasts and charities are observed, Jain scriptures are read, and at some places grand fairs are set up.

         Mahavira, the great teacher and the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism was the contemporary of Lord Buddha. His mother Trisala or Priyakarini had a series of miraculous dreams heralding the birth of Mahavira. Vardhaman achieved enlightenment under an Ashoka tree after two and a half days fasting and meditation. Then he stripped himself of all his clothes and wore none there after, but shvetambars believe that Indra then presented him a white robe. After his enlightenment he gave away all his wealth and possessions and owned nothing. Mahavira underlined the importance of austerity and complete non-violence as the essential means of spiritual evolution and salvation.