Kaumudi Mahotsava, also known as the Festival of Moonlight, is a significant cultural and religious celebration in the Indian state of Karnataka. This festival is closely associated with the historic town of Shravanabelagola, a prominent Jain pilgrimage site known for its colossal monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali (Gommateshwara).
Here are some key aspects of Kaumudi Mahotsava:
- Location: The festival primarily takes place in Shravanabelagola, which is located in the Hassan district of Karnataka. Shravanabelagola is renowned for its Jain heritage and the majestic Bahubali statue, which stands atop the Vindhyagiri Hill.
- Timing: Kaumudi Mahotsava is celebrated annually on the full moon night of the Hindu lunar month of Kartika, which usually falls in October or November. The festival coincides with the end of the monsoon season in India.
- Significance: The festival is celebrated to commemorate a special event in the life of Lord Bahubali, a revered figure in Jainism. According to Jain tradition, Lord Bahubali engaged in a profound meditation called Kayotsarga for a prolonged period. It is believed that during this period of intense meditation, vines grew around him, symbolizing the harmony between nature and spirituality.
- Celebrations: Kaumudi Mahotsava is marked by vibrant and elaborate celebrations. Devotees from various parts of India and abroad gather at Shravanabelagola to participate in the festivities. The main highlight of the festival is the Mahamastakabhisheka, a grand anointing ceremony of the colossal statue of Lord Bahubali with various sacred substances such as milk, saffron paste, and sandalwood.
- Rituals: The Mahamastakabhisheka ceremony involves the pouring of these sacred substances from vessels known as “Kalashas” onto the statue from a height. This elaborate ritual is conducted with great precision and is considered highly auspicious. The ceremony is accompanied by prayers, devotional songs, and cultural performances.
- Cultural Programs: Kaumudi Mahotsava also features cultural programs and exhibitions that showcase Jain art, literature, and heritage. It provides an opportunity for devotees and visitors to immerse themselves in Jain culture and philosophy.
- Observance: The festival attracts both Jain and non-Jain visitors who come to witness the grandeur of the Mahamastakabhisheka and to seek spiritual solace in the serene surroundings of Shravanabelagola.
Kaumudi Mahotsava is not only a religious event but also a cultural extravaganza that brings together people from diverse backgrounds to celebrate the rich Jain heritage and spirituality associated with Lord Bahubali and Shravanabelagola. It is a testament to the enduring traditions and devotion of the Jain community in India.