Holy hai

The Beeb is running some absolutely gorgeous photos of a major Jain festival which only comes around every 12 years. Jains from all over India and the diaspora gathered in Shravanabelagola, Karnataka for the Mahamastakabhisheka festival. They washed and anointed a 58-foot-high, 1,000-year-old statue of Bahubali with haldi, kumkum and rice flour.

[Bahubali] is considered to be the originator of the concept of ahimsa or non-violence by the Jains, the basic tenet of their religion… he was the first to have attained salvation…

One thousand and eight small metal vessels containing water are placed neatly in the courtyard below the gigantic sculpture, considered divine. At day break, a select group of priests, chanting hymns, arrange the pots in a traditional geometrical pattern. Devotees then lift these vessels and climb up the 600 stairs to the top of the enormous statue… The statue is bathed with unending quantities of milk, sugarcane juice, pastes of saffron, sandal wood, and therapeutic herbal lotions. Powders of coconut, turmeric, saffron, vermilion and sandal wood are then sprayed on the statue. Precious stones, gold, silver, petals and coins are offered in reverence. The spectacular finale to this 10-hour ceremony is a shower of flowers from a helicopter. [Link]

The digambara (nude) form of Bahubali represents the complete victory over earthly desires… [Link]

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p>Perhaps it was to prevent these charismatic scenes of religious ecstasy that the Puritans to the west took a rocket launcher to the Bamiyan Buddhas.

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Related posts: Fun, Frolic and Heavy Lifting, Durga Pooja photos, Sikhs mark 400th anniversary at Golden Temple

20 thoughts on “Holy hai

  1. Dude, the Mahamastakabhishekha mentioned in u r blog took place in Shravanabelagola, nearly 100+ kms from Bangalore and not in Dharmasthala

  2. Thanks, Vikram. Man, I hate it when I mix up Shravanabelagola with Dharmasthala. That’s like confusing Berkelee with Berkeley ;) So there are apparently at least two giganto Bahubali statues:

    In 1973 a statue of Lord Bahubali carved out of a single rock, was installed at Dharmasthala on a low hill near the Manjunatha temple. It was about 39 foot (12 m) high and weighed about 175 tonnes. It is second in height only to the colossal 58 foot (18 m) statue of Gomateshwara at Sravanabelagola, near Mysore. [Link]

    I think it’s clear where all that mecha anime comes from.

  3. I would kill to have been there and taken those pictures.. especially the third one on this page.

    About the Bamiyan Buddhas, every once in a while, people think that they can make their current ideas dominate over all others by erasing all symbols of past ones. The ephemeral nature of men and ideas alike has never really been understood as a universal truth. So the Taliban wants to erase all forms of idolatry from Afghanistan, various states in India want to erase all memories of British rule by renaming all cities.. if only it was possible to rewrite history by simply erasing all symbols of the past.

  4. I would kill to have been there…

    Then you wouldn’t be Jain ;)

    … if only it was possible to rewrite history by simply erasing all symbols of the past.

    Rushdie’s favorite word: palimpsest.

  5. speaking to the wealth of this community.. the person who got the honor of pouring the first offering on the statue won the right to do so in an auction – paid something like Rs 1 crore – the money going to a charitable trust… so it’s all good i think – and a tax write-off i am sure.

  6. I was there a few months ago – of course there were hardly this many people when we trekked up to the largest monolith in the world. I hear that they will soon be installing a cable car system, so that you donÂ’t have to do those 600 steps.

  7. I had the chance to visit Shravanabelagola years ago and to make the climb to see Bahubali. It was awe-inspiring. Beautiful pics.

  8. Lovely pictures. Never know anything of this sort existed. Thanks Manish :) for making lazy ones like me aware of it. I agree with Anil. The third picture is beautiful. The two girls seem to have so much content on their faces. Peace.

  9. The statue is bathed with unending quantities of milk, sugarcane juice, pastes of saffron, sandal wood, and therapeutic herbal lotions. Powders of coconut, turmeric, saffron, vermilion and sandal wood are then sprayed on the statue

    The festival etc is very cool but I couldn’t handle the wastage. Why can’t they just stick with maybe water and flowers and actually give the milk etc to the poor? I suppose that I have seen too much wastage due to festivals etc like this to actually look beyond the obvious…

  10. Mschiana: >>Why can’t they just stick with maybe water and flowers and actually give the milk etc to the poor? I suppose that I have seen too much wastage due to festivals

    Water is very precious in India (esp in rural India) – sometimes as precious as milk – especially in the months March-June.

    I think it’s best not to comment adversely on anybody’s religious practices (as long as they don’t violate others’ rights), however tempting and valid it may be.

    M. Nam

  11. Dear Manish,

    U had mentioned that there are two statues of Bahubali. This is incorrect. Karnataka has been for long, famous for Jain statues and Basadis. Apart from the obvious Bahubali statues you had mentioned, there are still more around Karnataka. Following is a list of Bahubali statues in Karnataka.

    1) Sharavanbelagola (100+ kms from B’luru) 2) Dharmasthala (75 kms from Mangalore) 3) Karkala (56 kms from Mangalore) 4) Venoor (40+ kms from Mangalore) 5) Halebeedu (200+ kms from B’luru)

    In fact, Moodbidri (36 kms from Mangalore) houses some of the splendid Jain architecture including the Saavira kambha basadi (Thousand pillar basadi) and has been aptly nicknamed as “Jaina Kashi.” Places like Belthangady(70 kms from Mangalore), Barkur (70+ kms from Mangalore), Varanga (75 kms from Mangalore) possess remenants of splendid Jain architecture

  12. U had mentioned that there are two statues of Bahubali. This is incorrect.

    Thanks for the update, Vikram!

    By the way, I said ‘at least’ two.

  13. Our Bahubali Statue Must Be The Seventh Wonder Of The World . Bcoz It Is Made By Single Stone And 57 Feet High . No Other Statue Have (In The World) This Speciality .

  14. God is only one and he is unseen. He has no parents and no any child. Any statue which is made of Gold, stone or any material can not be God. They even can’t move from one place to any place how can they help the people.

    May God Show us the right path to worship the true God

  15. Any statue which is made of Gold, stone or any material can not be God.

    I dont think anyone argues that the statue is god. ppl bow in front of statues because the statue represents god…

  16. Since you are poor from knowledge, you can not know what the god is & what the religion is- The religion is the nature of the good like the nature of the oil is fat, water is cool so man religion is mankind each soul including you has power to become god, the reason why we are not god since our soul is not purified, god does not help any one I would like to give example, why Jain see the statue like if you have notebook forget somewhere as soon as you see the notebook in the hand of other person you will immediately realize that you forget your umbrella somewhere, in the same manner Jain watch the statue of the person who has purified his soul. No god is there who has created the world as per Jain but you are superstitious it will be difficult for you to understand the phillosphy of Jainism