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Jain way of life being promoted in N. America

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Staff Correspondent

A federation of Jain associations is spreading the principles of non-violence and renunciation

JAINA is a federation of 62 Jain organisations It represents more than one lakh Jains in the U.S. and Canada It raised funds for victims of the tsunami and the Gujarat earthquake Jain temples have been built in the U.S.

SHRAVANABELAGOLA: Over one-lakh Jains in North America are spreading the universal principles of non-violence and renunciation in the continent, according to members of the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA).

They visited Shravanabelagola and held discussions with Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji and honorary president of the Mahamastakabhisheka committee Naresh Kumar Sethi on Tuesday.

JAINA president Kirit C. Daftary said Jains from India first migrated to North America in the 1960s.

Many of them could not practise Jainism. But today, regular programmes are being held to promote the Jain way of life.

Associations of Jains were started in the U.S. and Canada with the blessings of Sri Chitrabhanuji and Acharya late Shri Sushil Kumarji.

First convention

The first Jain convention was held in Los Angeles in 1981 and the second convention in New York in 1983, Mr. Daftary pointed out.

JAINA is a federation of 62 Jain organisations which represent more than one lakh Jains living in the U.S. and Canada.

It has provided a forum to forge unity among various Jain communities in North America.

Spreading the message

The federation has been spreading the message of Mahaveera and making youth aware of the principles of Jainism, and their interest in the religion is increasing, former President of JAINA Dheeraj Shah says.

On JAINA's response to humanitarian causes, former executive committee member Pramod Jaweri said the association raised over $200,000 for those affected by the tsunami and $650,000 for victims of the Gujarat earthquake.

It collected $100,000 for a fund for victims of the Latur earthquake, and more than $70,000 for the Kutch Cyclone Relief Fund.

Mr. Daftary said JAINA organised a recital of a Jain hymn in the U.S. House of Representatives in May 2001 to mark celebrations of the 2,600th birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir, the 24th Tirthankar. Jain prayers were held in the General Assemblies of Maryland, Ohio and Virginia.

Ahimsa Day

The federation has declared the first Sunday in October as Ahimsa Day in memory of Mahatma Gandhi, and JAINA volunteers work with local governments to issue proclamations.

It has requested the U.S. Government to declare October 2 as National Ahimsa Day, Dr. Shah said.

JAINA has constructed Jain temples and places of worship featuring Digambara and Shwethambara idols, with religious freedom granted by the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Bill in 1993, he added.

Grants

In recognition of JAINA's humanitarian programmes, the United States Agency for International Development has awarded a certificate of registration, making it eligible to receive grants from the agency.

The association is permitted to export medical and educational aid for humanitarian aid.

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