Jain Society of Greater Detroit

This profile was last updated in 2002

Research conducted by The University of Michigan-Dearborn Pluralism Project.

History

The first Jain center in metropolitanA Metropolitan is the title given to a bishop, used especially in the Orthodox family of churches today. Detroit was established in 1975, gathering in different members homes in suburban Taylor to celebrate the religious holidays and to bring together Jain families. Most were young adults coming to the United States to attend the university. As the numbers grew, they began to use a community center and churchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... hall. In February 1981, the Society was incorporated as a non-profit, religious organization, and a constitution was adopted. Due to the fact that Jain Society members were spread all over the metropolitan Detroit area, the basic concern was to find a site for a templeA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... that would be easily accessible to as many of them as possible. Several communities in Oakland County were considered, but Farmington Hills, an affluent suburb north of Detroit and home to a diverse population, was selected.

Description

In 1987, members of the Jain Society of Greater Detroit purchased three acres of land in Farmington Hills for their temple. Following this purchase, in 1991, they acquired the three acres of property adjacent to theirs along with the house to serve as a care-taker’s residence. It was here that the group met until their new temple was finished. The surrounding neighborhood is primarily residential, and a very affluent, new subdivision is in close proximity to the temple. Other churchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... are along 12 Mile Road. There are also office buildings, restaurants, and strip malls in the area. It was not until 1995 that the Society started to build on the land, a wooded lot that even now has largely been left in its natural state. The temple was completed in July 1998, and the Jain Society celebrated the PratishthaPratishtha means establishment or installation and refers to the rites by which images are consecrated for worship in the Hindu and Jain traditions. Mahotsav (the installation ceremony of the eleven idols in the new temple) during the period from June 27, 1998 through July 6, 1998. The temple itself is constructed of white stucco, and the 75 ton Shikka dome on top of the temple, imported from India, is made of marble. The temple contains a prayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not. hall with a Ghabhara rooms and a Bhumti area. Beneath the prayer hall is a social hall, kitchen, pantry, storage rooms, dressing rooms, shower facilities for men and women. On the upper level, there are two rooms for individuals to prepare for pujaFor the religious traditions of India, the term puja simply means “worship.. For Hindus, puja is the sequence of hospitality rites through which worshippers honor a deity with offerings such as water, fruit, a coconut, cloth, incense, and an oil lamp, a..., two classrooms, a library, and an office. The cost of the entire project is estimated to be between 5-6 million dollars. In May 1995, the temple hosted the Third Jain Conference of America.

Members and Youth Programs

The Society, which began with nine people, grew to 50 families in 1975 to over 430 families in 2000. The total current membership is estimated to be around 4,000, with 700-800 children as a part of the community. The vast majority of the members are from India; in addition, a few non-Indians, usually spouses, worship at the center. Study classes for children began in 1983, and classes have been ongoing since that time; study and discussion groups for adults have been ongoing since 1985. The first camp for children to learn about JainismThe term Jain or Jaina refers to the tradition of the Jinas, the “victorious ones” who have won spiritual liberation, and to those who follow it. The Jain tradition as we know it dates back some 2500 years to the life of the teacher Mahavira, said to ... was organized in 1992, and the temple’s Jain Organization of Youth (JOY) focuses on religious, social and cultural events for Jain young people. It sponsors Learn with Fun, a group that meets once a month for young people to learn Jain principles, Indian languages (Hindi and Gujarati), and Indian culture. In addition, the center is affiliated with Young Jains of AmericaYoung Jains of America was formed in 1989 during the fifth biennial convention of JAINA. YJA held its first national convention in Chicago in 1994 and plans to hold such conventions biennially. In addition to organizing conferences, YJA also encourages Ja... (YJAYoung Jains of America was formed in 1989 during the fifth biennial convention of JAINA. YJA held its first national convention in Chicago in 1994 and plans to hold such conventions biennially. In addition to organizing conferences, YJA also encourages Ja...) is a national youth group for all Jains 14 and older.

In the Community

While there are not ties to interfaith groups, because of the distinct nature of Jain worship, there are ties to other communities institutions. The center works with the Detroit Institute of Arts to bring visitors to the temple to see Jain architecture and learn about the Jain religion.

Leadership and Comittees

The Center has three major committees that were essential in the establishment of the temple. The Executive Committee is responsible for day to day functions; the Board of Trustees is responsible for long range planning; the Temple Committee is responsible for the temple. Women play an active role in the temple, alternating with the men in chanting and singing the prayersPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not. and songs during the service. At the present time, the society has a woman vice president, one woman on the Board of Trustees, and two women on the Executive Committee.

Activities and Schedule

The temple is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 A.M. until 12:30 P.M. for darshanIn the Hindu tradition, darshan is the “auspicious sight” of a deity or even a holy person. Darshan includes both beholding the deity and receiving the gaze of the deity. and puja, and from 5:30 P.M. until 9:30 P.M. for darshan and aratiIn the Hindu tradition, arati is the circling of oil lamp-lights before the murti (image) of the deity so as to illumine each part of its face and body. This is often the final act of puja (worship). So important is this lamp offering that the term arati .... The temple is open on Sunday from 8:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. for darshan and puja, and from 5:30 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. for darshan and arati. Special programs and activities are organized on festival days. The caretaker of the temple acts as a religious leader, performing the opening and closing ceremonies at the temple each day. The Jain TempleEach Jain temple is regarded as a replica of the assembly hall miraculously created by the gods for Mahavira upon his enlightenment. Hence, in entering a temple, a Jain has the sense of approaching the spot where a living Tirthankara sits in omniscient co... in Farmington Hills is presently the only Jain temple in Michigan, but one is planned for Lansing.