The Jain community celebrates the holy festival of Mahavir Janma Kalyanak Diwas – Mahavir Jayanti – on 25 April 2021.
In Jainism, this festival is a celebration of the birth anniversary and life of Tirthankar Vardhaman Mahavir. Lord Mahavir, whom Jains revere as the twenty-fourth and last Thirthankara of this era, lived in the 6th century BC. The Thirtankaras are teachers of the Jain faith – or dharma, way of life – who are venerated for having overcome earthly desires and attachments.
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has, for the last decade, sent an annual message to the world’s Jains on the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti.
This year’s message, acknowledging the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, expresses the Holy See’s appreciation for the Jain community for “compassionate services” expressed individually and collectively to “those affected by the present pandemic, in different parts of the world.”
The message looks to the fraternal common ground occupied by Christians and Jains and how believers can work together to rebuild hope in the present and post-pandemic times.
Quoting Pope Francis who said “No one ‘rebuilds’ by himself or herself; nobody can start over alone”, the message, from the President of the Pontifical Council, Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, encourages Jains and Christians to be ‘bearers of hope’:
“Rebuilding hope in the present pandemic times can usher in a future in which humans will have learned to unite all their forces and resources to eliminate all forms of ‘viruses’ – even the social ones like inequality, injustice, religious fundamentalism, extremism, racism, unhealthy nationalism and exploitation of the most vulnerable of society- which not so infrequently come in the way of a harmonious and peaceful coexistence among individuals and communities.”
You can download an English-language PDF of the full message.
You can also download a printable two-page PDF with information, bidding prayers, newsletter text and more.