The most important Jain religious observance of the year, Paryushana literally means “abiding” or “coming together.” Lasting either eight or ten days, it is a time of intensive study, reflection, and purification. It culminates with a final day that involves confession and asking for forgiveness.
Jainism appears in the American landscape in surprising ways. A teakwood replica of a Jain temple traveled from the St. Louis Fair of 1904–1905 to the Castaways Hotel in Las Vegas, and finally made its way to the Jain Center of Southern California in 1988.
From 1993 to 1995, 24 marble images of Jain tirthankaras made their way from Jaipur to a temple in Chicago. The images were consecrated, and the presence of the tirthankaras was formally installed in the temple.
The Namaskara Mantra, a series of five salutations to beings honored in the Jain tradition, is offered at many religious occasions. It is repeated morning and night and remembered at the time of death.
While most Jain monastics remained in India, two Jains with monastic experience made the journey to America. In 1971 Muni (a term used to refer to certain Jain monks) Chitrabhanu ceased his monastic life, became a lay teacher, and moved to America. Another Jain monk, Acharya Sushil Kumar, remained a monk, but broke the prohibition on travel and traveled to the United States to teach and found an ashram in New Jersey.... Read more about Jain Teachers in the New World
The first Jain center in the United States opened in 1966 in New York City with twenty families. This center now serves over 400 members, and approximately 100 other Jain centers have been established throughout America.
Ethically prohibited from engaging in agriculture, over the years Jains have worked in business and professional trades. Jains have made new communities in the UK, in East Africa (especially Kenya), and in the United States and Canada.
Jains have often worked as merchants, and their travels took them outside India. But because monastics travel exclusively on foot, the vast majority of Jain monastics remain in India. Creating strong communities with authoritative religious leadership outside of India has required innovation, and new patterns of Jain tradition have emerged.
A symbol to represent the Jain community was chosen in 1975 as part of the commemoration of the 2500th anniversary of Mahavira’s attainment of nirvana. The stylized hand is in a gesture of blessing, and on the palm is inscribed “ahimsa,” which for many is the essence of Jain ethical teachings. The phrase at the bottom of the symbol states “all life is bound together by mutual support and interdependence.” ... Read more about The Jain Symbol
Two major branches of Jain monasticism emerged in the early centuries BCE. The Digambara (“sky-clad”) tradition renounces everything, even clothing. The Shvetambara (“white-clad”) tradition also renounces, but they wear two pieces of white cloth. Each group has their own distinctive scriptures and traditions.
Jain temples serve as vibrant centers for the interaction of monastics and laypeople. Here Jains pray, meditate, listen to sermons, sing religious songs, and perform rituals before images of the tirthankaras.
In the classical Indian world Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus fiercely debated the nature of reality. The Jain position argues for a broad view called anekantavada (“no-one-perspective-ism”), resisting philosophical dogmatism and recognizing the good qualities of many different points of view.... Read more about Anekantavada: The Relativity of Views
Jain monastics depend on the laypeople for food and essentials. Possessing no permanent home, Jain monastics travel on foot and teach Jain tradition and scripture to laypeople. The monastics live a life of constant travel, with the exception of monsoon season, when they spend four months in one place.... Read more about Mendicants and Laity