Thousands of Jain pilgrims converge on Gommatagiri for the Mastakabhisheka
The 64th Mastakabhisheka of 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, vermillion, coconut water, curds, 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.
Prabha Mandal, president of Sri Gommatagiri Kshetra Seva Samiti, said 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.
The statue, reckoned to belong to the early Vijayanagar period, is situated on top of a 50-m-high hillock and is made of granite. It is not clear who installed the statue, but scholars opine that the influence of Jainism in the region 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.
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 at the time. 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.