What is a festival day (Parva - a Jain Festival) according to Jainism?
The daily worship is always fruitful and useful for the upliftment of the soul, but the day of festival or parva is a special day of worshipping, a special kind of worshipping and there is always an ancient event joined with the day. The Parva has some special kind of rites that can increase merits for future. More Penance, more worship, more religious activities are done on the day of Parva. A Soul can create or bind the 'Aayushya Karma' of the next births in future.
Every Parva is celebrated with some special rules and principles. The rites of worship and activities have some special kind of importance in Jain festivals.
It celebrates the birth of Mahaveera, the last Tirthankara. He was born on the 13th day of the rising moon of Chaitra, in either 599 BC or 615 BC (depending on religious tradition).
The holiday occurs in late March or early April on the Gregorian Calendar.
On Mahaveera Jayanti, Jain temples are decorated with flags. In the morning the idol of Mahaveera is given a ceremonial bath called the 'Abhishek'. It is then placed in a cradle and carried in a procession around the neighbourhood. The devotees make offerings of milk, rice, fruit, incense, lamps and water to the people in procession. Some sections of the community even participate in a grand procession. Lectures are held to preach the path of virtue. People meditate and offer prayers. Donations are collected to save the cows from slaughter. Pilgrims from all parts of the country visit the ancient Jain Temples at Sammed Shikharji, Girnar and Palitana on this day.
Mahavira was born into royalty as the son of King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala. During pregnancy, Trishala was believed to have had a number of auspicious dreams, all signifying the coming of a great leader. The exact number of dreams differs according to the school of Jainism; Svetambaras generally believe that the actual number is fourteen while Digambaras claim sixteen instead. Regardless, the astrologers that interpreted these dreams claimed that the child would become either an emperor or a Tirthankar.
It is said that when Trishala finally gave birth to Mahavira, the god-king Indra bathed the newborn himself with celestial milk, a ritual essentially marking him as a Tirthankar.
Local statues of Mahavira are given a ceremonial bath called the abhisheka. During the day, many Jains engage in some sort of charitable act in the name of Mahavira while others travel to temples to meditate and offer prayers. Lectures are typically held in temples to preach the path of virtue as defined by Jain doctrine. Donations are collected in order to promote charitable missions like saving cows from slaughter or helping to feed poor people.
Ancient Jain temples across India typically see an extremely high volume of practitioners come to pay their respects and join in the celebrations.