It celebrates the birth of Mahaveera, 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).
The holiday occurs in late March or early April on the Gregorian Calendar.
On Mahaveera Jayanti, Jain temples are decorated with flags. In the morning the idol of Mahaveera is given a ceremonial bath called the 'Abhishek'. It is then placed in a cradle and carried in a procession around the neighbourhood. The devotees make offerings of milk, rice, fruit, incense, lamps and water to the people in procession. Some sections of the community even 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. Pilgrims from all parts of the country visit the ancient Jain Temples at Sammed Shikharji, Girnar and Palitana on this day.