BHAVNAGAR: Thousands of Jain pilgrims flocked to the foothills of Shatrunjay hills of Palitana taluka here on Monday, the day of Kartik Poornima (full moon of the Kartik month of Hindu calendar) to undertake the auspicious yatra (journey).
Known as the Shri Shantrunjay Teerth Yatra, this walk is an important religious event in the life of a Jain devotee, who cover 216 km of rough mountainous terrain by foot to worship the Lord Adinath temple atop the hill. Considered as a very auspicious day for Jains, the day also assumes significance for the walk as the hills, which are closed for public during the four months of monsoon, are thrown open for the devotees on Kartik Poornima. This age-old tradition has been followed down the years.
Although similar to the three-day Girnar Parikrama, which ends on this very day in neighbouring Junagadh, the Palitana yatra can be done all around the year except for monsoon months, a district official explained. However, as the day of Kartik Poornima holds significance in Jain religion and devotees are kept away from worshipping their lord for four months of monsoon, the first day attracts the maximum number of devotees.
Shatrunjay hills are, next to Sammet Shikhar in Bihar, the most sacred mountain for Jains. Mythology has it that it was Lord Adinath, the first tirthankara, who sanctified the hills by visiting it to deliver his first sermon. Down the years, crores of sadhus and sadhvis have attained salvation on these hills.
"It's said that if we undertake the yatra of the pious hills on this particular day, the three-and-a-half crore sadhus who have already attained salvation over the years also walk with us," said a Jain devotee here. "This day is also the birth anniversary of our great religious leader Shri Hemchandrachayaji," he added.
Considering the rush of pilgrims, the civic administration had set up all facilities to facilitate the yatra.