The nine-day Mahamastakabhisheka celebrations of the 35-foot monolith Venoor Bhagwan Shri Bahubali Swamy celebrations in Venur began on a colourful note on Saturday. Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda inaugurated the celebrations.
Mahamastakabhisheka is held once in every 12 years in a grand manner. Streets leading up to Akkangala Basadi, which is behind the statue of Bahubali, were decorated.
The rituals leading up to Mahamastakabhisheka began with a procession led by a decorated elephant. The procession went in circumambulation around the site of Bahubali’s statue. Several women dressed in identical saris walked behind the elephant in two lines holding kalashas. The kalashas contained water that would be used in the Mahamastakabhisheka rituals.
Head of the Ajila princely family, Padmaprasad Ajila, poured the first kalasha of water, followed by his family members. A total of 108 kalashas of water were poured on the first day, besides many other items, including sandalwood paste and milk. The devotees poured water over the statue of Bahubali from a specially constructed platform and paid obeisance. A large number of devotees watched the proceedings.
The Ajila princely family is credited to have taken pains to install the statue – known as Naguva Gommata (the smiling Gommata) – in 1609 on the banks of the Phalguni river. The Heggade family was present. Before the formal inauguration, religious leaders, including Acharya 108 Gunadharanandi Maharaj, addressed the devotees. The acharya said that Gandhi and Anna Hazare followed the concepts of ahimsa which were propounded by Mahaveera. Devotees frequently raised slogans of “Bahubali ki jai” and “Parshwanath swamy ki jai”.
By the end of the formal programme, the number of people swelled. Several book stalls selling books related to the Jain history and religion were set up near the venue. Hundreds of people visited the basadi of Chandranatha Swami which is behind the statue of Bahubali.
Earlier, Mr. Gowda said that a Jain Adhyayana Peetha would be set up in Mangalore University and allocations would be made in the next budget. The peetha would help spread the Jain philosophy among the people. Mr. Gowda requested the Special Representative of the Karnataka Government in Delhi, Dhananjay Kumar, to ensure that funds meant for minorities also reached the Jain community. He was responding to Acharya 108 Gunadharanandi Maharaja’s remark that although the government released Rs. 400 crore for minorities every year, only Rs. 2 crore had reached the Jain community. He said that he would look into the demand for providing reservation to the Jain community.
The event attracted people from different faiths. When the site was open to the public after the platform was constructed, few people climbed all the way to the top to take look at the statue. People are proud of the history of the statue. One of the devotee said that Mahamastakabhisheka and Bahubali’s statue were sacred to the Jain community. By purchasing a pot of water, means they are performing “a small service” to Bahubali “who was a great tyagi (one who renounced everything)”. Abhiksheka could be performed for any deity at any time, but Mahamastakabhisheka was special because one got an opportunity only once in 12 years.
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