International Ahimsa Foundation and Indian Consulate observe Mahavir Jayanti

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Scores of people gathered at the Indian Consulate in New York for observing Mahavir Jayanti in an event held jointly by the International Ahimsa Foundation and the Indian Consulate June 27, 2021. Photo courtesy International Ahimsa Foundation.

On June 27th, 2021, the International Ahimsa Foundation (IAF) and the Consulate General of India celebrated Non-Violence “A Message of Lord Mahavir.”

The event commemorated Lord Mahavir’s 2,620th birth anniversary as well as Mahatma Gandhi’s 152nd birth anniversary.

Mahavir Jayanti is one of the most auspicious and revered days observed by Jains, Hindus, and others around the world to commemorate the birth anniversary of one who is seen as “the great soul who spread the message of peace and non-violence to mankind,” a press release from IAF said.

Born in 599 BC, Lord Mahavir established the core principles of Jainism. Ahimsa (Non-Violence) was the most supreme principle of his teachings. The message of Lord Mahavir was adopted and practiced for the first time by Mahatma Gandhi in his social and political movements.

“Through this event, we aimed to commemorate and promote the important messages of non-violence and peace by celebrating two of Earth’s great souls,” organizers said in the press release.

Lamplighting ceremony led by founder of International Ahimsa Foundation Neeta Jain, at the Indain Consulate in New York June 27, 2021. Photo courtesy IAF

The event was organized by the founder and President of the International Ahimsa Foundation Dr. Neeta Jain, who is also an elected Democratic District Leader in New York  representing Assembly District 25 Part B in Queens.

An educator and community leader, Jain is a passionate advocate for non-violence and peace, which led her to establish IAF in 2012.

In her speech at the Indian Consulate, she spoke about the impacts of Lord Mahavir and Mahatma Gandhi; how Gandhi adapted the principles of nonviolence into the Indian political struggle for freedom from the British.

Jain wants to incorporate the values of Ahimsa and Lord Mahavir in the educational curriculum, she said.

A sculpture representing Mahatma Gandhi at the traditional Indian loom. Photo courtesy International Ahimsa Foundation

Consul General Randhir Jaiswal spoke about the relationship between the International Ahimsa Foundation and the Consulate General of India and the importance of cultural celebration and unity for the progress of society.

Those attending included elected officials from both the Federal and City levels, as well as many scholars. Some special guests and speakers present were Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY, who spoke about the importance of non-violence and peace and her goal to work with the International Ahimsa Foundation to have the United States Government award Mahatma Gandhi with the Congressional Gold Medal; Congressman Gregory Meeks, D-NY, who dwelt on cultural unity and the impact of Mahatma Gandhi on leaders like Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and their affect on his own life.

Councilman Peter Koo emphasized the importance of diversity, acceptance, non-violence, and cultural unity in the Asian diasporas and how they are crucial to the success of society.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer spoke briefly about the importance of implementing the values of Lord Mahavir and Mahatma Gandhi into daily life.

India’s Consul General in New York Randhir Jaiswal, spaking at the Mahavir Jayanti celebrations June 27, 2021. Photo courtesy International Ahimsa Foundation

Dr. Jaykumar Upadhye, who spoke about the historical life, legacy, and impact of Lord Mahavir and how he influenced society and Mahatma Gandhi.

Professor Kenneth R. Pugh, PhD, from Yale University drew the link between mindfulness, meditation, and Jainism and how they scientifically improve brain activities, among other topics that shed light on easing negativity and anxiety by having a peaceful mindset.

Bishnu Prasad Gautam, Consul General of Nepal, noted the positive relationship and similar values between the Nepali and Indian diasporas and the importance of non-violence, peace, and unity.

A photo exhibit of the leaders who espoused ideas of non-violence following the founder of Jainism Lord Mahavir of, left, at the Indian Consulate June 27, 2021. Photo courtesy International Ahimsa Foundation.

Sister Sabitha Geer, representative of the Brahma Kumaris to the United Nations, dwelt on the connection between awareness, attitude, vision, action, and the world, and guided the audience through some mindful meditation.

Community leader Ashok Sancheti emphasized the importance of sharing and spreading happiness for prosperity and community success.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was represented by Rohan Narain, who read the Mayor’s letter to the audience. Queens Borough President Donavon Richards office was represented by Brent Weitzberg.

The event also featured many youth, Anika Jain, a high schooler with a passion for public speaking, emceeing the event.

A skit was performed by children from the community – Deshna Jain, Aanya Jain, and Ayush Jain.

It concluded with a dance performance with from students of the Rhythm Dance Academy- Angel Shah and Anika Bhatia.

The event was brought to a close by Dr. Raj Bhayani, vice president of the International Ahimsa Foundation, with a vote of thanks.

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