I want to go ahead and start collecting information for the podcast about this holiday. Please add any information or suggestions on what we should cover to this thread.
What is Mahavir Jayanti? Here is what wikipedia says http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahavir_Jayanti :
In Jainism, Mahavir Jayanti is the most important religious holiday. It celebrates the birth of Mahavira, the last Tirthankara. He was born on the 13th day of the rising moon of Chaitra, in either 599 BC or 615 BC (depending on religious tradition). According to the Digambar school of Jainism, Lord Mahavira was born in the year 615 BC, but the Swetambaras believe that He was born in 599 BC. But both the sects believed that Mahavira was the son of Siddhartha and Trisala. According to the legend, Devananda, wife of a Brahmin named Rishabhdeva, conceived him. The gods, ingeniously, transferred the embryo to the womb of Trisala. According to Swetambara sect the expectant mother was believed to have seen 14 auspicious dreams. And according to Digambara sect it was 16 dreams. The Astrologers interpreted these dreams, stated that the child would be either an emperor or a Teerthankar.
The holiday occurs in late March or early April on the Gregorian calendar.
On Mahavir Jayanthi, Jain temples are decorated with flags. In the morning the idol of Mahavira is given a ceremonial bath called the ‘abhishek’. Lord Mahavira is an ideal in Jainism who taught the world the essence of life. He taught all of us the right way of living the life.The day of his birth is celebrated in a massive procession around the cities. The jains make offerings of milk, rice, fruit, incense, lamps and water to the poor people that day. All sections of the community participate in a grand procession. Lectures are held to preach the path of virtue. People meditate and offer prayers. Donations are collected to save the cows from slaughter and to help poor people by providing them food. Pilgrims from all parts of the country visit the ancient Jain Temples at pawapuri, Kundalpur and Parsvanath on this day.
Lord Mahavir was a great teacher who taught mankind the true path of happiness. His teachings on complete nonviolence and the importance of austerity showed the path to achieving salvation and spirituality.
Here are some interesting looking resources (recipes, e-cards, coloring pages):
Pictures that Google found: