Preparations are on in full swing for the Mahamasthakabhisheka-the head anointing ceremony – performed once in 12 years on the 57-feet tall monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali at Shravanabelagola. The event is being held under the leadership of Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of Shravanabelagola from February 17-25 next year.
Shravanabelagola or Sravanabelagola is one of the most important Jain sacred places in South India. The place derives its name from the point that Shravana or Shramana means a Jain ascetic and Belagola or Biliya Kola means white pond.
The word Mahamasthakabhisheka is a combination of three words viz: Maha (great), Masthaka (head) and Abhisheka (anointing). Unlike the other idols, the ceremony is called Mahamasthakabhisheka and not Masthakabhisheka. This is because the ceremony is performed only once in 12 years on the contrary the abhisheka to the Gommata idol at Gommatagiri is performed every year. The earliest one on record took place in 1398 AD and the latest in 2006.
Several committees have been formed including the Kalasha distribution committee to look into the distribution of Kalashas to devotees aspiring to perform Kalasha abhisheka to Lord Bahubali during the Mahamastakabhisheka Mahotsava.
It is learnt that the preparations for the Mahotsava is expected to be completed by January 15 and various rituals related to the Mahotsava will begin from February 7. Chief Minister Siddaramiah also held a review meet on Saturday and looked into arrangements such as accommodation, water supply and so on. Land has been procured from the farmers temporarily for the arrangement of the Mahotsava. For the first time, a high-tech attalige (scaffolding) from where the abhisheka is done to Lord Bahubali is being set up. A visitors gallery that can accommodate about 6,000 devotees has been arranged, said Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of Shravanabelagola.
Once in 12 years
Usually, Mahamasthakabhisheka to Bahubali idols at Shravanabelagola, Karkala, Venur and Dharmasthala are conducted once in 12 years. There are various stories around why it is so. One is that it took almost 12 years to carve the idol of Lord Bahubali at Shravanabelagola and hence to mark this, the Mahamasthakabhisheka is conducted once in 12 years. According to another, Chavundaraya, who got Lord Bahubali idol at Shravanabelagola, had instructed that the ritual be performed once in 12 years. In Jain scriptures, 12 is an auspicious number.
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