Center Profile

Jain Society of Greater Detroit (2002)

(Jainism)

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Description

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

History

The first Jain center in metropolitan 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 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 temple 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 churches 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 Pratishtha 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 prayer 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 puja, 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 Jainism 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 America (YJA) 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 prayers 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 darshan and puja, and from 5:30 P.M. until 9:30 P.M. for darshan and 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 Temple in Farmington Hills is presently the only Jain temple in Michigan, but one is planned for Lansing.

Date Center Founded
1981

Membership
430 families, 4,000 members

Ethnic Composition
Majority of members are from India, a few non-Indian people worship at the Temple.

Affiliation with Other Communities/Organizations
Young Jains of America (YJA) and the Detroit Institute of Arts