Mahamasthakabhisheka is very famous and popular festival that is performed once in 12 years. The word Mahamastakabhisheka is a combination of three words Maha meaning great or excellent, Masthaka means head and Abhisheka meaning anointing or coronation. The words literally mean ‘the head anointing ceremony’. It is an important Jain festival, and the most famous one is held in the town of Shravanabelagola in Karnataka (160 kilometers from Bengaluru), India. It is performed in reverence to the Eighteen metre high monolithic statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola.
During the Mahamastakabhisheka, devotees sprinkle sacred water on the participants. 1,008 specially prepared vessels are carried by them. The statue of Lord Bahubali is worshipped by thousands of devotees who assemble from all over. Mahamastakabhisheka is celebrated with many special rules and principles. Devotees bathe the statue with milk, sugarcane juice, and saffron paste. They also sprinkle sandalwood, turmeric, and vermilion on the statue. The Lord is offered flower petals, precious gems and gold and silver coins. According to the Jainism this worship is very fruitful and for the upliftment of the soul. Recently a beautiful shower of flowers from a waiting helicopter was also organized. Other than the Bahubali statue at Shravanabelgola, all the other Gommateshwara statues in Karnataka are also honoured with a Mahamastakabhisheka festival every 12 years.
The 57-foot piece of granite has been meticulously carved out to produce a majestic figure with half-closed eyes and a gentle, serene smile. Jain poet Hemchandra had described the Gommateshwara statue as “verily the personification of tranquillity”. Every 12 years, this piece of Jain craftsmanship is visited by thousands of pilgrims from around the world for a ceremony known as the Mahamastakabhisheka, or the anointing of the statue in the presence of Jain acharyas.
The son of the first Tirthankara of Jainism, Bahubali is a revered figure among the Jains. Jain mythology holds up Bahubali as the one who succeeded in attaining liberty from worldly desires through a long period of sustained meditation. The story of Bahubali, though varied in details, is that of a ruler who won against his brother and was filled with grief over his actions and therefore abandoned his possessions and kingdom in search for omniscience. The Jain poet Bopanna wrote of him as the one who “gave back the whole earth though he had completely conquered it”.