RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The mood was a joyous one as about 75 members of the Indian American Jain community in Southern California gathered here Oct. 23 for the inauguration of the “Shrimad Rajchandra Endowed Chair in Jain Studies” at the University of California, Riverside.

The event opened with the Navkar Mantra led by two Samnijis from Florida.

Dr. Sulekh Jain of Houston narrated how the chair had come to be established. With the encouragement of Dr. Harvinder Sahota and Dr. Pashuara Singh, Chair of Religious Studies at UCR, he said, as well as the support of dean Milagrosa Pena, School of Humanities, Arts and Social Science; and senior director of development Emily Rankin, the idea took momentum.

Two donor families, Mahesh and Usha Wadher and Drs. Jasvant and Meera Modi, pledged to raise the $1 million required to establish the chair. Other donors and supporters included Vijay and Madhu Chheda, Dilip and Sushama Parekh, the Jain Center of Southern California, Shrimad Rachandra Mission Dharampur and the Jain Temple of Los Angeles.

Mahesh Wadher spoke of the importance of spreading the principles of Jainism. He also talked about Shirmad Rajchandra and his influence on Mahatma Gandhi and how that affected the non-violence movement in the India independence movement, according to a press release.

Associate professor Ana Bajzelj, who will occupy the chair, talked about the progress being made in religious studies. Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox spoke about the importance of diversity in the university and how critical it is to be able to offer different religious perspectives to students.

The event concluded with a sumptuous Jain vegan dinner catered by Jaybharat of Artesia.

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