2009 JAINA CONVENTION - Report

Posted: 10.07.2009
Updated on: 30.07.2015

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15th JAINA Convention 2009
Thursday to Sunday July 2-5 2009
Jain Center of Southern California
8072 Commonwealth Ave
Buena Park CA 90621, USA

 


2009 JAINA CONVENTION - Report

Opening Ceremony: Bhattark Shri Charukeertiji, Pujya Shri Rakeshbhai Jhaveri, Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji, Dr. Hukamchand Bharill, Shri Amrendra Muni, Pandit Dhirajlal Mehta, President Dilip V Shah, Convener Lata Champsee, Acharya Shri Chandanaji, Sadhvi Shilapi Ji, Sadhvi Shubhamji, Samanijis and Tarlaben Doshi

Sanghpati Hamilton Brewart thanking everyone

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Keynote Speaker Gary Dr. Gary Francione (left) being introduced by President Dilip V Shah

JAINA is Federation Of Jain Associations in North America representing nearly 150,000 Jains living in USA and Canada through 67 Jain Associations all over North America.

During the 4th of July weekend  (July 2-5),15th Biennial JAINA Convention was held at the Jain Center of Southern California’s newly renovated Jain Bhavan in Los Angeles. Their 62,000 sq ft cultural complex and adjacent 13,000 sq ft Temple proved to be highly spiritual backdrop for the 2500 attendees of this years convention.

Jains are the earliest environmentalists. The Theme for the convention was “Ecology the Jain Way”. Care and concern of the environment is a deeply held doctrine of Jainsm from the very beginning because Jains have been told long long before the Science learned that Plants, Water, earth and Air has life and/or is home of countless lives and jains have reverence for all lives (not just of humans or animals). Therefore preservation of nature is a religious duty of everyone. At this convention, lectures and seminars were designed to encompass this theme and suggested ways to take care of the nature in these modern times.

Attendees came from all over the USA and Canada. There were guests from UK; Dubai and of course India. Of the 2500 attendees, 1000 were persons of age 30 or under. Many monks and scholars came from India too.

There were three keynote speakers all academicians. Dr. Gary Francione; Distinguished professor of Law and Ethics at the Rutgers University; Dr Jagdish Sheth, Chair of Marketing at Emory University and Dr Dipak Jain; Dean of the Kellog School of Management.

Dr. Gary Francione was not known to the Jain community before this convention. He is the first teacher in America to teach Animal rights. Both he and his wife are vegetarians for over 25 years and vegan for last 21 years. In his keynote address he called on the Jain community to consider how much Violence is committed on their behalf on animals - in modern day business of producing wool, leather or even a glass of Milk. His passionate address was most moving and he received a standing ovation by all and tears in the eyes of many.

Dr Jagdish Sheth emphasized “Nurturing the Nature”. He talked about sustainable growth can only be achieved by limiting our consumption (Jain Principle of APARIGRAH) and always being aware of where things we consume came from. Attempting to emphasis local and fresh products to minimize transportation as a way to help the environment.

Dr. Dipak Jain talked about employing Jain principles in everyday business activities. His personal anecdotes were not just informative; they were also entertaining and funny.

The opening day morning was enthusiastically greeted by a procession (Shobha Yatra) in which scholars, monks, local politicians walked and  young and old Shravks and Shravikas and children dancing with traditional music and huge colorful flags representing  67 member Jain centers was the colorful and uplifting auspicious beginning of the whole event.

One of the most important seminars at the convention was JAIN DIASPORA Conference. This JAINA initiative to connect all the Jain communities living in 36 countries outside of India was the second such conference at JAINA Convention - the first one was in 2007 at the previous convention in NJ.  Late Dr. L M Singhavi chaired that meeting and gave it a blessing that has allowed this movement for unifying all the Jains all over the world. Plans are in the works to hold the 2010 JAIN DIASPORA meeting in London.

A Gujarati Play SIDDH HEM was the most eagerly awaited item at the convention.  It was going to be a world Premiere of the play - a historic moment for Gujarati Rangbhoomi that a Major Gujarati play produced in India by Indian team would perform in USA before any show in India. This play was specially brought from Mumbai by the team who 2 years ago had performed APURVA AVSAR play based on the life of Shrimad Raj Chandra at 2007 JAINA Convention. SIDDH HEM play is based on the life of Acharya Hemchandracharya who wrote 3.5 million slokas in his life time about 800 years ago– Yog Shastra, Vitrag Sutra, TRISTHSHALAKA PURUSH, Drayashraya in Sanskrit and also in Prakrit.

It is impossible to imagine Gujarati language without Hemchandracharyas creations of so many of its components. He regularized Gujarati language by authoring first grammar SIDDHEM SHABDANUSHASAN, CHHANDSHASTRA and Alankar Shastra, He also wrote a Hindu prayer Mahadev Stotra. Other notable treaties he gave were Pramanmimansa (Logic) and Arihantniti (similar to Chankya Niti).

The 2 hour play became the most talked about item of the convention and over 8 invitations were extended to the team to perform in various cities in America during the next month and half.

Many scholarly lectures were presented in English, Gujarati and Hindi on subjects like Pujya Shri Rakeshbhais lectures on ATMA SIDDHI and VACHANAMRUT, Acharya shri Chandanaji’s and Sadhvi Shubhamji’s  Jain Dharma through Social Service; Essence of Human Life by Bhattarak Charukeertiji; Jain Customs by Pandit Abhay Kumarji and Pandit Dhirajbhai Mehta; Jain way of Raising Children by Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji; Jains: Pioneers of Ecology by Samani Vinaypragyaji; Essence of Forgiveness by Sadhvi Shilapiji……Punya - Paap by Falguni Zaveri, Path toward Moksha by Pramodaben Chitrabhanu.

Lay Jain communitiy members also made many presentations. JAIN WAY OF LIFE by Prem Jain; Andhkar –ma thi- Prakash taraf by Chandrakant Mehta; Charity Focus by Nipun Mehta; World Peace Diet by Dr Will Tuttle; Jain Food by Manoj Jain; Remembering Veerchand Raghavji Gandhi by Dr Dhiraj Shah, Jain Tirth Yatra by Mahendra Kandhar, Science and Jain Dharma by Premal Doshi, Indian culture and Eco Skills by Pallavi Doshi, Soul Songs by Pandit Jayesh Khona, leadership in the Green Economy by Paul Hannam,Panel discussion on Health issues for Seniors.

Separate tracks were designed for youth by speakers like Saumil Mehta, Nipun Mehta, Pallavi Doshi, Ami Doshi Aakash Doshi Rajni Modi Sneha Patel and Aditi Shah. Traditional competition between Pathshala Children of various Jain Centers Known as JAINA ACADEMIC BOWL is heavily anticipated event by the young members of the community. This year the JAIN CENTER of NJ won that competition.

The Highest award by JAINA for their lifelong contribution to Jain community in North America was awarded to Dr. Sulekh Jain of Houston - a past President of JAINA. Presidential award were given to Udai Jain of Houston for long service to JAINA and Mahenra Mehta of Mumbai for his humanitarian work worldwide and as a JAINA’s liaison in India.  10 Adult awards and 5 youth award were also given.

JAINA conventions are a  gathering for entire families. I saw several 3 generations families all enjoying the convention Programs are planned for every age group.

There were meditation workshops and Bhaktamar recitals and poojas In the Temple early mornings. There were seminars for senior citizens and for youth s of different age groups various carefully planned programs offered. There was JAIN 21 - a matrimonial gathering for older kids, and baby seating for Toddlers. Various seva activities were also a part of the program. a group of dedicated volunteers from the Jain Center of Southern California set forth to make Seva activities an important part of the JAINA convention for the first time ever. The mission was simple:  Harness the will of the people attending the JAINA convention to improve the quality of life for thousands of people in need.  After months of planning and fund raising, the JAINA convention was a flurry of energy and enthusiasm. Young children, teenagers, and adults filled rooms, formed assembly lines, and carried out the following activities: Prepared 1000 hygiene kits for the homeless. Made 500 blankets and collected socks for the homeless.   Filled 400 backpacks with school supplies for disadvantaged school children created 100 “smile packs” consisting of card quilts and books/DVDs for children with  serious medical conditions. Collected cell-phones for battered women shelters and eyeglasses to be used in developing countries.

The whole event was made even more Joyous by sumptuous meals everyday and brakfast, afternoon tea and late night ice-cream parties as though it was a food-fest. Most meals were vegan another first at JAINA and food was  lovingly provided by Jay Bharat caterers.

The convention ended on July 5th but not before creating another historically significant event. For the first time in the 28 year history of JAINA, a Canadian and a Woman, Lata Champsee, was sworn in as JAINA President.

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Photos by Satish