Golden bath fit for a god

Devotees bathe the monolithic statue of Jain god Gomateshwara, also known as Bahubali, with a turmeric mixture as well as other libations such as coconut water, saffron, gold, flowers and medicinal herbs, as they celebrate the Mahamastakabhisheka, or head anointing ceremony of the statue.

The veneration of the statue unfolded in Shravanabelagola, Karnataka, India, which has been a Jain pilgrimage centre for the past 2,500 years.

The 17m-tall Gomateshwara dates back to around 981AD and is carved out of a single piece of rock. It is believed to be one of the largest free-standing statues in the world.

The town of Shravanabelagola , located 145km west of Bangalore, will attract millions of people from across the country for the head anointing ceremony.

This event takes place only once every 12 years and this year's festivities will run till Feb 26 .

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2018, with the headline 'Golden bath fit for a god'. Subscribe