Last day of Bahubali Mahamastabhisheka held at Venur

By Shobha Rao Smilemaker 

Mar 3: It was with great interest that I went to witness a phenomenan that occurs just once in twelve years...the Mahamastabhisheka (meaning the great head anointing ceremony) conducted by the Jain community for their Lord Bahubali's statue at a small town called Venur which centuries ago was ruled by the Ajila dynasty.

Karnataka has five giant statues of Lord Bahubali mostly on hillocks and this 35 metres high Monolith at Venur, is the only one standing on the plains on the banks of the River Phalguni since 1604.

The priest told me that this particular Bahubalibetta complex at Venur has 4 temples of the holy Jain Thirthankaras, (while the balance 3 Jain temples with stone idols were at another site at Venur called the Kallu Basadi). 

We first entered the small Basadi dedicated to the 23rd Thirthankara. I immediately noticed the distinct air of devotion around me. A stranger realizing that we were coming for the first time just told us randomly to enjoy the shift in positive energy due to the presence of a high number of devotees in the complex.  

I did not know that even at the last minute, the organizers would accept offers for pouring the holy water, and on the spot, I decided to use this opportunity to purchase a bhakti kalasha (brass container) from which I could pour the holy water on to the head of Lord Bahubali. 

We walked towards the giant statue and the first sight of Lord Bahubali left me in awe. Imagine the effort involved in carving a huge idol out of a single rock in beginning of the 17th century that has stood erect through the tests of time.  

Lord Bahubali, is worshipped by the Jain community, who consider him as the epitome of profound spiritual qualities like detachment, penance, austerity, brotherhood and meditation. 

Only once in every 12 years, the general public like me, get a chance to take part in the sacred anointing ritual! 

As we climbed up the 7 stories of the specially erected platform behind the statue, I admired the 360 views of the green countryside around me. We could actually touch the idol from behind at the head level.

And was thrilled to play my minuscule part of being 1 among the 1008 devotees who did the Abhisheka with water that day. Later I actually got to reach the base of the idol before it got cordoned off to the general public! (We did not wait for the late night other sacred rituals by priests like pouring of tender coconut water, cane juice, milk, rice powder, turmeric, Kashaya (medicinal plants), Chatushkona kumbha, sri gandha paste, chandana paste, astha gandha, flowers, poornakumbha, etc that took place for the late-night Grand finale).

There was a talk on the nearby Dharma Sabha stage with dignitaries like Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao l, Minister D Sudhakar, former Minister Abhayachandra Jain, MLC Harish Kumar, Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari D Veerendra Heggade, Yugala Munishri 108 Amoghakeerthi Munimaharaj and 108 Amarakeerthi Munimahara, Moodbidri Jain Mutt seer Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji, etc. 

Classical music and dance performances by noted outstation artists also kept the crowds enthralled. It was great to see the lively drum beats and dancing at the beginning of a Grand religious procession that would grace the streets of Venur. 

Even the free mass feeding program, whether it was the buffet system or the meals on banana leaves were very well organized. We had a sumptuous meal without any waiting time. 

The most interesting part was to observe the large number of rural devotees who graced this occasion. I saw them really enjoying their festive shopping at the many stalls selling simple stuff at very reasonable prices in the makeshift stalls around the complex. It reminided me of the pure childhood pleasures we got when visiting a local fair, which can never be compared to an outing to a modern mall that sells branded items! 

I even went on a solo giant wheel ride with a smart 11-year-old rural boy who was thrilled to show me his amazing Rs 20 pen designed as a small pistol. 

Such grand festivals unite the community, and increase awareness about Jainism to people like me. All in all, it was a memorable visit to Venur that I would cherish with a smile for the rest of my life!











Shobha Rao Smilemaker has a vision of living in a world where people use their ability to find and make smiles in any situation. She is a lawyer by qualification, a soft skills trainer by passion, a motivational speaker, a freelance journalist, a bestselling author, an avid traveler and founder of 'Smilemakers Trainings'. She can be contacted at




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Title: Last day of Bahubali Mahamastabhisheka held at Venur

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