Thursday, March 29, 2018

'Girnar will become the new identity of Gujarat’

Mar 10, 2018, 11:58 IST
The Gujarat government has recently declared that the five-day annual Shivratri fair being held at Girnar foothills in Junagadh with lakhs of devotees for several years now would be observed as the ‘Mini Kumbh Mela’. It has also planned to constitute a Girnar Development Authority which will work for development of religious places in and around the area. The site is revered by both Hindus and Jains.
A few days later, reports emerged that it is also planning to develop a one-of-its-kind Jain tourist circuit as places like Palitana, Naliya, Taranga and Songadh in the state attract a lot of Jain tourists throughout the year. There are plans to develop this tourist circuit with several others states including Bihar.

These developments assume significance particularly in the wake of the recently concluded once-in-12-year ‘Bahubali Mahamastakabhishek’ at Shravanabelagola near Bengaluru in Karnataka. It is not only believed to be one of the most important occasions for Jains but also tourists and political leaders as evident from the fact that President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated it and Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part in its concluding ceremony.

Even Ahmedabad mayor Gautam Shah--- who along with Law and Justice Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama has been playing role in the amicable resolution of the dispute between Hindus and Jains over the fifth ‘tonk’ (peak) of Girnar—visited Shravanabelagola.

When asked how ‘Mini Kumbh Mela’ tag will benefit the area or local economy, Ahmedabad mayor Gautam Shah, said, “It is a laudable step. This announcement will boost tourism in the area . Soon, Girnar would become the new identity of Gujarat.” 
He added, “For several years now, saints, seers, monks and people from across the country participate in the Shivratri fair at Girnar. With the Gujarat Government giving it the ‘Mini Kumbh’ tag, the area will gain prominent significance and not only lead to a huge footfall of pilgrims but also attract tourists, creating more facilities and job opportunities. Girnar would not only gain a new identity but would soon become a new identity of Gujarat.”

Shah added, “On the occasion of ‘Moksha Kalyanak’ (salvation day) of Neminath Bhagwan on ‘Ashad Shukla Satam’, more than 50 buses carrying thousands of Jain pilgrims from across India arrive in Girnar to perform the ceremony of ‘Nirvana Ladoo’ in presence of collector and local administration. Religious festivities at the Jain temples in Girnar ‘Taleti’ and on the hill span over two to three days.”

The Girnar mountain range in the Gir Forest area, considered older than Himalayas and the highest in Gujarat, is revered by Shiva, Krishna and Jain devotees and also has Ashoka rock edicts. As per Jains, it is the ‘Nirvana/Siddha Kshetra’ and ‘Nirvana/Moksha Bhumi’ of their 22nd ‘Tirthankara’ Neminath, while Hindus consider it holy as Lord Dattatreya stayed here. The 3,666 feet high mountain has one of the most ancient Jain temples in the country including the ‘pagliyaji’ (foot inscription) of Lord Neminath and is dotted with several Hindu temples including that of Amba Mata.

On his Shravanabelagola visit, Shah informed, “For the Karnataka event, Gujarat Digamber Jain Yuva Sangh, Mumbai had arranged a train to take devotees to Shravanabelagola. After talks with the Karnataka government, the train was allowed to go till the nearest station which is at 40 km distance for the convenience of pilgrims, particularly the elderly and women.”

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