The death of Jayantsen Surishwarji Maharajsaheb, an 81-year-old Jain monk’s death drew 50,000 devotees to Bhandavpur in Rajasthan. Members of the community bidded money to perform rituals that are a part of his last rites.
On Tuesday, April 18, throngs of devotees gathered in Jalore district to participate in a unique community practice called ghee bolo or bidding on last rites, a tradition that takes place when a spiritual leader in the Jain community passes on.
Jayantsen Surishwarji Maharajsaheb, who garnered influence among a large section of people was one such leader. He contributed to the construction of 250 temples and gave diksha (initiating a spiritual discipline) to 200 people.
According to a TOI report, many of his devotees bidded money to perform rituals such as giving him a last bath, applying sandalwood paste, covering the body with a wooden shawl, among others. The highest bid went to a Gujarati family that quoted Rs 33.5 crore to light his funeral pyre. According to the report, a total sum of Rs 57 crore was collected during the entire process.
“At that time, devotees didn't contribute even a penny to the temple box. So something had to be done to raise funds to build more Jain temples and spread the religion.That was when the idea of ghee bolo emerged. Over the years it has become a regular ritual,” said Vimal Sagar Maharajsaheb, a Jain monk who traced the history of ghee bolo.
The practice of ghee bolo holds a special place among members of the Jain community, who consider it a privilege to be part of a spiritual leader’s last rites.
A few months ago, five members of the Jain community contributed Rs 11 crore towards lighting the funeral pyre of Shri Premsurjiswaji, a 97-year-old eminent monk from Mumbai. This was believed to have broken previous records of money collected during the bidding practice.