Shravanabelagola, February 5, 2006: Traffic came to a virtual standstill on Sunday afternoon with people turning out in droves to witness the colourful Mahamastakabhisheka procession complete with elephants, tableaux, singing and dancing folk troupes and the idols of Jain Theerthankaras and other symbols of worship and reverence in this pilgrim town on Sunday afternoon, with the idols of the 24 Theerthankaras being carried for the first time each in Silver palanquins.
The more than two km long procession was inaugurated by Shravanabelagola Pontiff Swasthishri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji from the Panchakalyana Mantap at around 3.30 pm by leading it from the front with a caparisoned elephant right behind him. Thousands of devotees and troupes, lined up for the procession, commenced their performances as soon as the Swamiji flagged it off. The Swamiji accompanied the procession throughout its entire six km route from the Panchakalyana Mantap and back after circling the Vindhyagiri Hills and en route passing through the main thoroughfares of the town.
Tableaux from different parts of the Karnataka, including Mangalore, Karkala, Chikkamangalore, Shimoga, Hubli, Hassan and Dharwad featured various aspects of the Jain way of life and the life of Bahubali. The star attraction among all the tableaux in the procession was the tableau from Mangalore featuring the fight between brothers Bharata and Bahubali, with both the artistes atop the tableau dressed up in magnificent Yakshagana costumes.
Dancing and singing alongside the troupes from different parts of Karnataka were devotees from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, apart representatives of other states. The 24 Theertankaras and ‘Jina Vani’ in their palanquins and the resplendent Silver chariot featuring Bahubali, and ‘Indra’ Mahendra Kumar Jain and ‘Indrani’ Saritha Jain made up the rear. It was well past 7 pm when the procession wound its way back to the Panchakalyana Mantap. Other Indra-Indranis participated in the procession seated atop the elephants.
The procession featured folk troupes performing dollu kunitha, veeragase, pooja kunitha, hulivesha, kamsale, goruvara kunitha, suggi kunitha, jaggalige, kamjeelu, somanakunitha, nandi kunitha, maragalu kunitha, hejjemela, karadi mela, puravanthike and jogathi kunitha among others. – Jain Heritage Centres News Service (JHCNS)