Shravanabelagola (Karnataka): Lakhs of devotees from all over the country and abroad are expected to gather at Shravanabelagola, the Jain pilgrimage centre, next month for Lord Bahubali's 'Mahamastakabhisheka', a once in 12-year ritual.
The ceremony, believed by some to be one of the most thrilling spectacles of worship in the world, is scheduled to take place between February 17 and 26.
The 57 ft-high statue of Lord Bahubali, the son of the first Jain tirthankara, was carved from a single rock by Chamundaraya, who was the Ganga Dynasty's minister and commander, in 981 AD.
The Mahamastakabhisheka (head anointment) ceremony has been regularly performed every 12 years since then, much like the Kumbh.
Devotees bathe the magnificent statue atop the Vindhyagiri hillock with milk, sugarcane juice followed by turmeric, sandalwood and vermilion powder in accordance with Jaina tradition.
Massive arrangements have been made for the grand event. As many as 12 temporary townships with all the basic amenities have been built, said B N Varaprasad Reddy, special government officer for the event.
"A separate township meant for Jain sadhus, called 'Thyagi Nagar', has been built. There are separate townships for volunteers, media persons and devotees. These places have been provided with underground drainage, drinking water, lighting and other basic essentials," he said.
Apart from the temporary arrangements, the Karnataka government is also focusing on upgrading roads, renovating historical monuments around the main site and improving bus stands, he added.
According to Charukiriti Bhattarak Swami, the chief of Jain Muth, which is based in Shravanabelagola, the state government has granted Rs 175 crore for the mega event. The rest of the expenditure of the rituals during the Mahamastakabhisheka will be borne by the Jain Muth.
An estimated 30 to 40 lakh devotees are expected to attend the ceremony, he added.
The rituals related to Mahamastakabhisheka will commence on February 7. However, the head anointment will begin on February 17 and will continue till February 25. The valedictory function will be performed on February 26.
There will be religious and cultural programmes on all the 20 days, the seer said.