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Big Anointing Ceremony of Sravanabelagola Bahubali

The 'Maha Mastakabhisheka' of the 57-foot Gommateswara monolith statue in the famous Jain pilgrim centre of Sravanabelagola in Hassan district, has been scheduled for February 2006.

The great event of anointing the granite statue - the second tallest monolith figure in the world - was scheduled in 2005, earlier. But in view of the drought conditions in Karnataka and elsewhere in the country, it has been postponed by one year. The anointing ceremony, which attracts thousands of pilgrims of all classes and tourists from all over the world, generally takes place once in 14 years.

The initiation ceremony for the Maha Mastakabhiseka took place on June 24 at the Sri Digambar Jain Mutt in Sravanabelagola, with the head of the Jain religious Mutt, Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji, performing Pooja and Abhisheka (anointing ceremony) to a small silver idol of Bahubali (Gommateswara). After the worship, the Swamiji announced the date for the great event and also a national-level committee for the successful conduct of the generally month-long celebrations.

The committee consists of Dr. Veerendra Heggade of Dharmasthala (Chief Patron), Mr. Sahu Ramesh Chand Jain, President, All India Digambar Jain Theertha Kshetra Committee, New Delhi (Honorary President), Mr.M.R.Nirmal Kumar, Bangalore (Working President), Mr. Nirmal Kumar, President, All India Digambar Jain Maha Samaj, Lucknow, Mr. Ashok Badajatya, President, All India Digambar Jain Maha Samaj, Indore, Mr. D.A.Patil, President, All India Jain Sabha, South India, Kolhapur, Mr. S. Jithendra Kumar, President, Karnataka Jain Sangh, Bangalore (Vice-Presidents) and Mr. Aravinda Joshi, Mumbai (General Secretary).

With the initiation ceremony on June 24, elaborate arrangements for the big event have commenced. The Government of India has announced a new rail link to this famous pilgrim centre from Hassan, the district headquarters. A sum of Rs. 29 crores has been allocated for the rail link in the latest Union Budget.

Preparations begin several months ahead of the event, as it requires building almost a total temporary new township to accommodate the visiting pilgrims with all amenities, in this small town, which is 62 miles from Mysore, and the construction of a wooden scaffolding behind the huge statue to accommodate priests to stand and perform the Abhisheka during the ceremonies. It also involves huge expenditure, which has to come from the public and devotees, apart from the State Government.

The statue of Gommateswara stands on the 470 feet Vindhyagiri rock hillock. A flight of about 500 steps cut in the granite rocks leads to the Jain saint's statue. On the way are a number of other minor and historic temples. The image of Gommateswara, carved out of a single rock, is nude and stands erect facing north with a majestic and impressive grandeur.

Gommateswara is the son of Purudeva, the first Jain Thirthankara or the Jain Saint. History says, it was carved in 981 A.D. by Chamundaraya, Minister of the Ganga King, Rajamalla. He conducted the first anointing ceremony on March 13, the same year. Since then, the head anointing is being conducted with great religious fervour. The anointing ceremony conducted in 1981 marked 1,000 years of the statue and then Prime Ministers Mrs. Indira Gandhi witnessed the great event.

On this main day, priests pour 1,008 pots of water and 15 others offerings like coconut water, almonds, dates, milk curds, vermilon mixed water, ghee, sandal, flowers and coins, standing on the platform forming part of the wooden scaffolding.

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