President Kovind to flag off Gomateshwara fete in Karnataka

Feb 06, 2018, 21:19 IST | IANS

While the key days of the festival run from February 17 to 25, devotees and VIPs have been pouring into this town over the last three weeks

Ram Nath KovindPresident Ram Nath Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday will flag off the celebrations to anoint the Gomateshwara statue in this Jain pilgrim town in Karnataka's Hassan district, an official said on Tuesday.

"The President will be flown in by a chopper from Bengaluru on Wednesday to flag off the 'Mahamastabhisheka' (grand consecration) celebrations of the Bahubali Gomateshwara statue... this is a very important Jain festival," the festival organising committee's chief of publicity P.Y.Rajendra Kumar told IANS.

Lakhs of people from across the country visit Shravanabelagola to take part in the fest, which is held once in every 12 years, to anoint the 17-metre high mighty statue of Bahubali, a Jain spiritual leader.

While the President will flag off the celebrations on Wednesday, the actual anointing of the statue will take place on February 17. The last anointing ceremony took place 12 years ago in 2006.

"The fest will be celebrated for 18 days from February 7 to 25, with various Jain rituals held for the first nine days and the anointing ceremony taking place from February 17 to 25," Kumar added.

While the key days of the festival run from February 17 to 25, devotees and VIPs have been pouring into this town over the last three weeks. According to officials, about 2.25 lakh people are expected to visit the town for the mega Jain observance. The pilgrim town has been spruced up at an estimated cost of Rs 175 crore for the fest.

Charukeerthi Bhattarakha of the Jain Mutt here said: "The anointment of Bahubali statue once in 12 years is a great event not only for the Jain community but all those who regard the teachings of Jainism and renunciation." The ancient town is also home to about 500 rock inscriptions, protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made with thousands of pilgrims visiting the town, said Karnataka Director General of Police Neelamani Raju, adding CCTV cameras and hundreds of policemen would be deployed to monitor the crowds.

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