Thousands of Jain pilgrims converge on Gommatagiri for the ritual

The 64th Mastakabhisheka to the statue of Gomateshwara at Gommatagiri was performed with traditional fanfare on Sunday.

Witnessed by thousands of Jain pilgrims, the hillock came alive with cries of “Gomateshwara Maharaj ki jai” and “Bhagawan Bahubali ki jai” as milk, sandal paste, vermilion and other ingredients cascaded from the forehead of the 16-ft-tall statue.

Located about 24 km from the city and off the Mysore–Hunsur highway, near Bilikere, the anointing of the statue is an annual ritual and unique to this place. (The Gomateshwara statue at Shravanabelagola, which is around 56 ft tall is anointed once in 12 years during the Mahamastakabhisheka. It was last held in 2006).

Officiated by Sri Devendrakeerthi Bhattaraka Pattacharya of Hombuja Jain Math, Shimoga, the run-up to the anointment saw priests performing various rituals.

The anointment commenced at around 12.30 p.m. and went on beyond 1.30 p.m.

The statue was bathed in milk (ksheerabhisheka), tender coconut water, sandal paste, vermillion, kumkum, curds and other ingredients.

Programme for adolescents

Prabha Mandal, president of Sri Gommatagiri Kshetra Seva Samiti, told The Hindu that as part of the festivities, the samiti had decided to take up skill development and education of adolescents through a special programme to be initiated at four government schools in the vicinity.

History

The statue which is reckoned to belong to the early Vijayanagar period, is situated on top of a 50-m-high hillock and is made of granite. The statue has serenity writ large on its face and closely resembles its famous counterpart at Shravanabelagola. It is not clear who installed the statue. But scholars opine that the influence of Jainism in the region was unmistakable and was perhaps one of the reasons for the installation of the statue at this place.

Dr. Mandal said they had made representations to the government pertaining to the protection of the hillock which was under threat owing to blasts from the adjoining quarries.

“Though the district administration has banned the use of explosives for quarrying, the rule is not being followed,” said Dr. Mandal.

‘Provide guesthouse’

He said the samiti members want the government to provide a guesthouse for pilgrims coming to Gommatagiri.

“The Mahamastabhisheka at Shravanabelagola will be in five years. We can expect a steady stream of pilgrims to Gommatagiri as well. Thus, the need for a guesthouse,” he said.

Other demands for the development of the site included regular water supply, better road connectivity and more buses, said Dr. Mandal.

H.P. Manjunath, Hunsur MLA, was present.

More In: Karnataka | National