Chicago Jains celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their Temple

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Devotees gathered for the pooja.

BARTLETT, Illinois – The Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago (JSMC), Bartlett Illinois, celebrated a milestone – the 25th Anniversary of its temple. From June 22 to July 1, about 4000 people from the U.S. and abroad came to participate in the historic celebration, organizers said in a press release.

This is the first Jain temple in North America with “Shikhar” or dome to complete25 years. A number of dignitaries, speakers, and faith leaders from U.S. and India attended.

Some of the high profile guests included Illinois State Governor Bruce Rauner; Consul General of India in Chicago Neeta Bhusan; Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi; D-Illinois, and Peter Roskam, R-Illinois; State representatives Christine Winger and Laura Murphy, State senator Tom Cullerton and Bartlett Village trustees.

Over the 10 days of celebration, numerous scholars and dignitaries from India, including Muni Jinchandraji, Acharya Lokesh Muni, Swami Shrutpragyaji, Charukeerti Bhattarakji, Gurudev Rakesh Bhai Zaveri, Dipakbhai Bardoliwala, Sanjeev Godha, Pramoda Chitrabhanu, Tarlaben Doshi and Samanijis “delivered thought provoking spiritual discourses to an eager audience.,” the press release from the temple said. Keynote speeches on important topics were delivered by Padmashri Kumarpal Desai, Dr. Dipak Jain, Rahul Kapoor and Sajan Shah. Vidhikar Shri Hiteshbhai, Shri Narendra Nandu, Shri Lalitbhai Dhami, Megh Nandu and Veer Sainik Jinaybhai performed unique poojans and rituals for the first time in the U.S., the temple organizers said in the press release. Singers Ashish Mehta and Vicky Parekh performed at the event. The JSMC’s home musical production Nem Rajul and Karmic Forces received an overwhelming response as much as the professional productions Sheth Motisha and Veer na Varasdaar played by Rangat Productions of Mumbai, organizers said.

Devotees gathered for the pooja.

Many activities for the youth including sports day, field day as well as youthfocused seminars and shibirs kept the youth engaged. Replicas of sacred places of worship Ashtapad and Giriraj Shatrunjay, were on display.

One of the highlights of the celebration was a 1.5-mile parade and procession starting at Bartlett’s Eastview Middle School and ending at the Jain temple. The Sanghpati’s of the 25th Anniversary Celebrations (Jayendra and Leena Shah, Kishor and Rashmi Shah, Prabodh and Lata Vaidya, Sanjay and Hemali Shah and Dr. Shailesh and Mayuri Zaveri) and other sponsor families walked with 12 decorated floats, Bhaghwan Palkhi and Rath, live religious music and dance, motorcycles and a horse carriage.

Despite nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, more than 1000 members participated in the parade which ended with a ceremonial flower shower from a helicopter.

The JSMC also created history by inaugurating the first memorial (Jeevant Smarak) of Gurudev Chitrabhanuji who is credited with having strengthened Jainism and united Jains in the U.S. in the last 40 years. His bust was sponsored by Pallavi and Ravindra Kobawala as well as Kinna and Satish Shah.

Since 1970s, the Jain population in Chicago has exploded from less than thirty families to over 1,900 families, according to the press release. With the mission of preserving and sharing the Jain way of life, the community built a temple and community center in 1993 in Bartlett, IL on a 14-acre lot. Today the temple and center stand on a 17.5 acre piece of land with expanded facilities of 84,000 sq. ft.

Devotees gathered for the pooja.

“In this milestone year for all Jains around Chicago and indeed all of U.S., we have delivered a great experience to all our dignitaries, guests and members blending religion, education, culture and entertainment,” President of JSMC executive committee Vipul Shah is quoted saying in the press release. “All our program as have been received with tremendous enthusiasm”. Chairman and Board of Trustees member Atul Shah added, “Our unity, dedicated volunteers, generous donors and all other supporters have helped us to set a very high bar,” Atul Shah added.

Every day during the celebration, JSMC provided 3 meals to all attendees and visitors. Many guests from Chicago and outside were thrilled with the overall execution and planning by the dedicated team of volunteers, Executive Committee members and Board of Trustees, organizers said.

Public Relations and Media co-leads Hemant Shah (past Chairman) and Dr. Mukesh Doshi (past Chairman) said, “We are building on a very successful legacy of 48 years of JSMC.”

According to the press release, Virchand Raghav Gandhi, was the first Jain to have landed in Chicago 125 years ago, and he “Pioneered Jainism in western world and represented Jains in first parliament of World religious conference held in Chicago in 1893.”

Founded in 1970, JSMC caters to the religious, educational, cultural and community needs of Jains in and around Chicago. Members hold activities at the venue at least 160 of the year. A 7-person elected Board and a 13-person elected Executive Committee manage JSMC with support from many /committees.

Parade float.
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