Nearly 15,000 attendees, from the age of three to 93 and from 23 countries, gathered virtually for JAINA’s, or the Federation of Jain Associations in North America’s, 21st convention July 1-6.
Over 70 spiritual speakers and thought leaders delivered inspiring discourses to the audience, many of whom were from the Indian American community. In addition, 300-plus hours of session programming was delivered over the duration of the event, including 400 pre-recorded videos across 175 sessions.
With the theme, “Jainism: A Resilient Path to Peace,” the convention “showcased our firm belief on spirituality to sustain our sense of self and purpose through beliefs, principles, values, and morals,” stated a press release.
An engaging line-up of programming featured virtual tirth darshan of the holiest Jain tirths across India; Jain aarti; Jain spiritual discourses by renowned scholars and dignitaries; multi-faith keynotes; colorful cultural program; daily morning yoga/meditation sessions; “Jain Academic Bowl” (a “Jeopardy”-style competition); “Jains Got Talent” competition; youth activities; kids club activities; Jain Connect; women’s conference, and calligraphy. Evening programming included bhakti and dayro; a Bollywood show, “Sunheri Yaadein”; “Mahavir Ek Alokik Katha,” a musical dance ballet; cultural program; and a drama, “Rang De Sanskar.”
With Mangalik by Sadhvi Sanghmitraji MS, the ceremony kicked off with a welcome from JAINA president and convention co-convener, Mahesh Wadher; convention convener Haresh Shah; and convention co-convener Bindesh Shah.
Wadher explained the convention’s logo and theme, highlighting the three A’s (“triple A”) for Ahimsa, Anekantwad, and Aparigrah, which means non-violence, non-absolutism, and non-attachment, respectively.
During the opening ceremony, a JAINA Ratna Award was awarded to Prem Jain, a pioneering Indian American leader who has made numerous contributions to the Jain community worldwide.
He was instrumental in establishing Young Jains of America and realigned JAINA as a community organization to uplift economically deprived Jains in the U.S. and India, noted the release, adding that he is the founding president of the Jain Center of Northern California and founding chairman of the Jain International Trade Organization for USA and the San Francisco chapter. He was the co-founder and chief development officer of Nuova Systems, chief financial officer of Cisco, and is currently the CEO of Pensando Systems.
Renowned spiritual and religious leaders who spoke at the event included keynote speaker Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai, Saraswati Nandan Param Pujya Jinacharya Vijay Ratnasundersuri Maharaj Saheb, His Holiness Dalai Lama, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, Rashtra Sant Pujya Gurudev Shri Namramuniji, Dr. Gnanvatsal Swami, Brahma Kumari Sister Shivani, Shri Deepakbhai Desai, Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade, Acharya Shri Roopchandraji, Acharya Shri Chandanaji, Acharya Dr. Lokeshmuniji, PP Swayamprakashdas Swami, Dr. Shri Kumarpal Desai and motivational speaker Rahul Kapoor Jain.
In his keynote speech, emphasizing the true meaning of Ahimsa, Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai said: “Feelings of attachment is Himsa, and absence of such feeling is Ahimsa.”
The convention was also graced by speeches from revered Jain acharyas from India.
During breakout sessions, speakers shared their knowledge and wisdom in three different languages.
Other dignitaries present at the event included Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Congressman Tim Ryan, and Cedric Richmond, senior advisor to President Biden.