Show curated by U B Githa

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Maha Mastakabhisheka is an important moment not only in the history of Belagola but for the entire Digambara community and is justifiably the Grand festival of Shravanabelagola.Occuring once in 12-15 years this Jain ritual of bathing the colossus was started by the great Ganga general Chamundaraya in 981 AD. But recorded evidences of the great bath are available from 1398 AD onwards. The bathing ceremony that took place on 08.02.06 by thousands of devotees and priests gives the ritual and the colossal surrounded by metallic scaffolding an impressive character. On that day it was mini India in action, as one could pick out various dialects. The ingredients for the various abhishekas are purified 3 weeks in advance in a grand and elaborate ceremony –Samagriya Sanchaya.This is the auspicious beginning. The Mysore Maharajas have been the greatest patrons and they had a hereditary privilege of performing the first puja when Belagola was a part of the Mysore territories.

108 kalashas are placed in front of Bahubali from which the first Jalabhisheka is performed. The Patni family from Rajasthan that bid for Rs1.08 crores had the privilege of the first jalabhisheka.In the washing of the statue the devotees feel that their negativity is also being washed to start afresh once they return home.

By the stroke of 1PM the Mahamastaksbhisha starts. As the statue is awash with the different abhishekas it takes on a different look, and for a moment it seems that the statue is carved from that particular colour.

This festivity is all about-the congregation of diverse peoples- is what India is all about.  The devotees have perched themselves on every available space, on trees, boulders, etc unmindful of the burning afternoon heat. The fly whisks on either side of the statue placed in steel columns move up and down to fan the gigantic bahubali.

The pravesha dwara or the entrance door to the statue is artistically decorated with the golden coloured areca nut fronds by artisans from Dharmastala. The devotees chanting and singing Bahubali swami, jagadala swami…is life in animated suspension.  Unmindful of all the inconveniences they deem it a god’s calling to be here today. The MM starts with padapooja though it’s performed every day. The simple folk song of Going to Belagola brings out the simple village folk’s inherent feelings to see the MM. Kuvempu also burst into a lyrical poem on sighting the monolith says–Kandan,kandan,kandan, korayuvavol karayuvavol,nodidanu kal gundan,kankeye kandasdavol nodidanu aa gommatesam sarthakamagal Chamundaeswara Umavesham….

The jalabhisheka is followed by, Pancaamritha, plaintain, dhaanya abhisheka, Sugar, dates/poppy seeds/raisins, ghee, sugarcane juice, harita kalaka choorna(turmeric),milk, rice flour, ,tender coconut milk,curds,Kashaya,paddy, Chatuskona abhisheka,sandalwood paste,srigandha, Astagandha, Kesariya, gold/silver/navratna vristi, followed by Pushpavristi and a huge garland of jasmine flowers. The lustration ends with Shanti Mantra and poornakalashabhisheka.He looks like a child, at times like Manmatha himself. The transformation of the statue is breath taking and awe inspiring and a rainbow pales in comparison.Kseerabhisheka is a wonderful sight to behold. It foams and falls like a waterfall from a great height, epitomizing all that is pure. Usually if something were to fall on our clothes we try to remove it, but the devotees are simply looking forward to be drenched and preserve the dress for. The Jain ritual bath is drawn from the common pool that the Hindus and the Buddhists derived theirs. Over the years it developed its own peculiarities within the confines of Jain beliefs and mythologies.  

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