Bahubali (Gomateshwara) at Shravanabelagola is performed once in 12 years. The earliest one on record took place in 1398 CE and the latest was in 2006. The 2018 event is going to be held from 17th-25th February.
The Mahamastakabhisheka is the largest
gathering of Jains in the world. Over 35 lakh
devotees are expected to attend the consecration ceremonies.The Jain ascetics from all over the country and abroad are expected to take part in the event. Revered Jain ascetic 108 Sri Vardhaman Sagarji Maharaj and several other Jain saints, Acharyas, Munis, Aryikas, Kshullaks
and Kshullikas are expected to grace the occasion.
The word Mahamastakabhisheka is a
combination of three words viz: Maha (great), Mastaka (head) and Abhisheka (anointing) which
literally means ‘the great head anointing ceremony’.
Why 12 Years?
Mahamastakabhisheka to Bahubali idols at Shravanabelagola, Karkala, Venur and Dharmasthala is conducted once in 12 years. There are various interesting stories/interpretations around this. One of the stories says that it took almost 12 years to carve the idol of Bhagwan Bahubali at Shravanabelagola and hence to mark this event, Mahamastakabhisheka is conducted once in 12 years. One other theory says that Chavundaraya, who built the statue of Bahubali, had instructed for performing Mahamastakabhisheka once in 12 years. Further, 12 is a very auspicious number in Jain
philosophy. Practically speaking, organising an event of this magnitude involves a lot of time, effort and money. Hence some scholars opine that this was the reason for organising the mega event once every 12 years which became a practice later on.
Security is of paramount importance during events of this magnitude where lakhs of people congregate at a place. Karnataka police is ensuring maximum security for the event, which is expected to draw 50,000 visitors per day. The police will be employing drones and closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to keep a vigil on the crowd during the event. 150 CCTV cameras, 20 drones, more than 100 metal doors and hand detectors will be employed in the town during the entire event. Bomb disposal squads and sniffer dogs will be available at the venue.
10-minute copter rides at mega event
The district administration has introduced 10-minute helicopter rides during the Mahamastakabhisheka. Pavan Hans Ltd., a Union Government enterprise, will operate the copter rides for about a month from February 1. The copter ride will cover the Gomateshwara statue and surrounding areas. If there are enough takers,
Mahamastakabhisheka starts with Jala-abhisheka followed by Panchamruta abhisheka. The Jala-abhisheka is carried out with either 108 or 504 or 1008 Kalashas. Kalasha is a pot of purified water
covered by betel leaves and a coconut. The pot of purified water and sandalwood paste is poured on the head of the statue by devotees from a scaffolding. while the priests chant the holy hymns.
The Jala-abhisheka is followed
by Panchamruta abhisheka. Panchamrutha Abhisheka involves anointing the idol with Nairkela
(tender coconut), Ikshurasa
(sugarcane juice), Ksheera (milk), Swetha Kalakachurna (rice flour), Harita Kalakachurna (rice flour mixed with turmeric), Kashaya (a juice prepared by boiling different ingredients), Sri Gandha (sandal wood paste), Chandana (a plant extract similar to Sandal wood paste with a different flavour), Ashta Gandha (a combination of eight types of Sandal wood pastes), Kesara (saffron), Haladi (Turmeric), Suvarnaratna Pushpavrusthi (a
collection of different kinds of
flowers mixed with sacred gems and stones) and Pushpavrushti (a
collection of different kinds of
flowers). Flowers from several
countries are sourced for the event. Flowers are also showered on Bahubali from a helicopter too
during the event.
The ‘abhisheka’ to Bhagwan Bahubali differs from the Panchakalyana rituals conducted for Tirthankaras. Pancha Kalyanas include Diksha Kalyana, Kevalagnana Kalyana and Nirvana Kalyana. Bahubali is accorded three Kalyanas whereas the Tirthankaras are offered Pancha Kalyanas.
The preparations for the grand were started almost a year ago.
National Working President of Mahamastakabhisheka 2018 Shri. Jitendra Kumar informed us that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) began building alternative steps to Vindhyagiri in Feb 2017 to
accommodate more visitors on the hill during Mahamastakabhisheka. Repairing of the pathway, reducing the height of existing steps on the top of the hill, railings, protection of inscriptions, construction of a
compound wall, and creation of new steps were undertaken in parallel. He also told us that the construction of a scaffolding necessary for the
anointment of the Bahubali statue began in Oct 2017. Charukeerti Bhattaraka Swamiji and others
participated in a special pooja. Following the pooja, the metallic poles required to construct the
scaffolding were carried to the hilltop. The scaffolding is built using German ring and lock technology. The
structure can accommodate more than 6,500 people at a time.
Shri Jitendra Kumar tells us that they expect 35-40 lakh visitors
during the event. The government of Karnataka has earmarked Rs 175 crore for the Mahamastakabhisheka alone which is apart from the public works and other infrastructure
development undertaken in the town of Shravanabelagola for the event. About 700 acres of land has been acquired temporarily to construct make-shift towns for the visitors. Compensation for crop loss &
damage to land will also be given
to the farmers whose lands
were acquired for the event, he
More than a dozen committees were formed to oversee the
preparations for the event.
Twelve temporary towns have been constructed and 22 Sulabh
toilets and food courts at various places have been built for the benefit of the devotees and visitors. The South Western Railways will operate 12 additional train services from Bengaluru and Hassan to Shravanabelagola during the Mahamastakabhisheka.