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Sri Gomateeswar was the son of the legendary first Tirthankara (a mythical, enlightened sage of Jainism). The chief festival of Shravanabelagola is called Maha Masthaka Abhisheka, or the 'Head Anointing Ceremony'. During this incredible event a scaffolding structure is built around the statue and over a million devotees make a pilgrimage to its base to chant holy mantras and pour thousands of gallons of milk, honey and precious herbs over the head.
While flowing downwards over the body, these offerings are believed to acquire a powerful charge of spiritual energy. They are collected at the feet and distributed to those who believe that the gift will assist their quest for enlightenment. The festival is performed only once every 12 to 14 years during periods of rare astrological significance.