Mahavir Jayanti is the most important religious holiday in Jainism.
This is a gazetted holiday which means that government offices and most businesses are closed.
The holiday is celebrated on the 13th day of the waxing (rising) half of Hindu month of Caitra which usually occurs in either late March or early April in the Gregorian calendar.
Mahavir Jayanti celebrates the birth of Mahavira, a contemporary of the Buddha, and the 24th and last Tirthankara (great sages).
According to the legend, Devananda, wife of a Brahmin named Rishabhdeva, conceived him, but the gods transferred the embryo to the womb of Trisala.
According to Swetambara sect the expectant mother was believed to have seen 14 auspicious dreams. (According to Digambara sect it was 16 dreams). Astrologers interpreted these dreams and predicted that the child would be either an emperor or a Teerthankar.
For over a decade, he was an ascetic, wandering about, begging for food, and wearing little. Then he found enlightenment, became a Tirthankara and taught for 30 years before his death.