California: JAINA, the Federation of Jain Associations in North America, along with Jain Center of Southern California and Jain Center of Los Angeles, hosted its 20th biennial convention at the Ontario Convention Center. Over 3,500 people attended the convention. The theme was “Celebrating Jain Religion in 21st Century.” Convention convener Mahesh Wadher and co-conveners Dr. Nitin Shah and Dr. Jasvant Modi explained the theme and purpose of the convention and its five distinct tracks of learning about Jain principles and practices, representing the five elements – Seva, Satsang, Samarpan, Sadhana, and Self-Realization – and other tracks on focus groups, including for young Jain professionals, young adults, youths, and ‘Jain Connect’.
Pre-recorded speeches from Jain acharyas Acharya Shri Yashovijayji Maharaj and Acharya Shri Vijay Ratna Sundar Suri Maharaj from India were played at the event. The convention was sanctified by 22 invited sadhus, sadhavis, and spiritual guides, such as Acharya Shri Chandanaji, Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni, Acharya Namra Muniji, and Gurudev Shri Rakeshbhai Jhaveri.
Keynote addresses were delivered by dignitaries from multiple faiths. These included Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Ingrid Newkirk, Philip Wollen, Gaur Gopal Das, and Nipun Mehta, among others. They spoke on the significance of a lifestyle that embodies Jain principles of non-violence, non-possessiveness and multiple-viewpoints – the main tenets of the Jain religion. There were 90 distinguished speakers, including professors, doctors, scientists, authors, scholars, and experts in various subjects. Besides 12 keynote sessions, the convention featured 86 breakout sessions among its eight tracks.
Gaur Gopal Das, a monk from ISKCON and a lifestyle coach, imparted life-long lessons on bringing balance and purpose to our lives. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk and Philip Wollen, a former Citibank vice president and “venture capitalist for good causes,” spoke about the virtues of being vegan and why veganism is important in today’s time.
Nipun Mehta, founder of ServiceSpace, shared his message on seva, compassion, and humility and encouraged the audience to make the smallest, simplest acts of kindness to experience how they can radically transform your life. Rahul Kapoor Jain, a motivational speaker from India, hosted interactive sessions on harnessing the inner powers to reinvent ourselves. The BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir of Los Angeles prepared food for the participants.