Jainism in Greater Boston

 

1965    The Immigration and Nationality Act is signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, eliminating immigration quotas created by earlier legislation. Immigration from Asia and the Middle East increases dramatically, marking the beginning of one of the greatest demographic transformations in American history. Greater Boston sees a marked expansion of minority religious groups, including the Jain community.

The first wave of Jain immigrants to the city consists primarily of Gujarati-speaking immigrants from Western India. Later, political turmoil in East African states results in a second wave of migration of people of Indian ancestry and Jain belief. By the late 1960s, many Jains who came to Boston as students begin meeting at the MIT Student Center and at the Rindge Tower apartments.

1973    The Jain Center of Greater Boston (JCGB) is established to meet the needs of the growing community.

1981    The JCGB establishes the first Jain temple, or derasar, in the United States, located in Norwood, Massachusetts, as a place for monthly gatherings and observations of annual festivals.

2000    The Jain Sangh of New England (JSNE) is founded by a group of Svetambar Jain families in Greater Boston who decide to separate from the JCGB in order to promote “more traditional Jain practice for Svetambar Jains.”

2009    The JCGB community votes overwhelmingly in support of the purchase of a former synagogue in Norwood and the JSNE purchases an office building in Burlington, Massachusetts. Both temples, once constructed and consecrated, will provide a sense of permanence for some 350 Jain families in Greater Boston.