The main Jain festival of the year is Mahavira Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism.
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. Both sects however agree that he was the son of Siddhartha and Trisala. Legend has it, that He was conceived by Devananda, wife of a Brahmin named Rishabhdeva. The gods, ingeniously, transferred the embryo to the womb of Trisala.
It is said that the expectant mother had sixteen auspicious dreams before the child was born (only 14 according to the Swetambaras). Astrologers interpreting these dreams, stated that the child would be either an emperor or a Teerthankar.
This religious event is largely observed by the Jains, by visiting sacred sites and worshipping the Teerthankars. The event holds special significance in Gujarat and Rajasthan, due to the ancient shrines at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat.
Mahavira Jayanthi is also celebrated at Parasnath temple in Calcutta and at Pawapuri in Bihar.