A Grand Success for the First In-Person JAINA Convention after Pandemic!
July 23, 2023
बधाइयााँ અભિનંદન Congratulations!!
JAINA Convention 2023 has successfully completed! This was the first in-person convention after 2019 (post-Pandemic). 3,000+ attendees ages 3 to 93 from 9 countries gathered at Lakeland, Florida, for this biennial convention 2023. 40+ spiritual speakers and thought leaders delivered many inspiring discourses. In addition, 100+ hours of session programming were delivered over the four days.
The Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA) celebrated its 22nd Convention on the Fourth of July weekend — from June 30th to July 3rd, 2023. According to Jainism, human life is the only form of jiva to obtain liberation directly. As human beings, we are endowed with the ability to think; we can differentiate right from wrong. We can decide what is good for us and what is not. We also can control our minds and activities. Through motivational and spiritual talks from Jain Scholars and learned thought leaders and through various social and entertaining programming, this convention truly addressed how we can maximize our potential to improve, influence, and inspire others, to address the problem of modern times using the modern-day tools available to us.
Engaging line up of programming featured
Ashirvachan from Acharya Vijayratna Suriji, Acharya Praman Sagarji, Acharya Chandanaji , Acharya Lokesh Muniji, Gurudev Namramuni Maharaj Saheb, and Saman Shrutpragyaji.
Inspirational keynotes from Sri Guru Ratna Prabhu, founder of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission (SRM), Delhi, and Dr. Sudhir Jain, Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University,
50+ motivational and spiritual discourses by well-renowned scholars and learned thought leaders,
Live Story Time by famous YouTuber Shantilal Gulecha,
The women’s conference was presented by Yogita Shah, a member of NASA team that successfully sent the Perseverance rover to the Red Planet, and by Ruma Devi, winner of the Nari Shakti Award,
Professional Networking session with serial entrepreneur Prem Jain, successful intrapreneurs Pinkesh Shah, US state representative and US Congressman Nominee Amish Shah, and Innovator and entrepreneur Yogendra Jain,
Jain Academic Bowl (a Jeopardy-style competition),
Virtual Tirth Darshan of the holiest Jain Tirths across India,
Youth activities for Young Jains of America, Young Jain Professionals, Jain Connect candidates, and Kids from Kids Club,
An international panel discussion on “Values-Based Education (or Mulyavardhan)” with Padmabhushan Dr. Jagdish Sheth (Charles Kellstadt Professor of Business Management at Emory University), PadmaShri Dr. Sudhir Jain (VC of Banaras Hindu University), Shri Shantilal Muttha (Chairman of Bharatiya Jain Sanghathan from Pune), and Moderator Dr. Akhtar Badshah (Professor of Business Management at the University of Washington in Seattle),
Presentation on the India Millet Mission outlining the Health/Planetary benefits of millets by Mrs Sharmila Oswal, Millet Woman of India, who is Director of Center of Excellence in Millets, Indian Ministry of Commerce.
A video presentation for a Tribute to the Departed Souls of leaders and scholars of Jain Community from all over North America who passed away since the last convention in 2021.
Entertainment programming included –
A theatrical production of Nem-Rajul Musical Drama, the epic story of Raag and Viraag – Eternal Love and Renunciation,
“મંત્ર થી મોક્ષ ” (Mantra to Moksha) Presentation and Recitation by Dr. Kummar Chatterjee,
ક્ષ મા વિરસ્ ય ભુષણમ (Kshama Virasya Bhushanam)– an online presentation of Ballet on 10 lives (િવ) of Tirthankar Shri Parshwanath,
Raas Garba & Bollywood Concert by winner of The Voice, Garima Khiste and group,
Solo and Group talent competition – Jains Got Talent,
Maitri Bhaav – High-caliber drama depicting the life of Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji, a spiritual leader who blessed the foundation of JAINA.
Daily Morning started with Yoga & Meditation, Aarti & Mangal Divo, Bhakti and Poojan. Daily meals were very delicious and served with love and a great deal of hospitality by FL host team and volunteers. Meals included morning breakfast, Lunch, afternoon tea & snacks, dinner, and late night snacks.
The celebration began with an indoor grand procession representing 70 Jain Centers from North America and beyond in Florida Style float-like decorated Golf Carts to comfort guests when the outside temperature was 98 degrees Fahrenheit.
With Mangalik led by Samni Amal Pragyaji along with other Samniji followed by beautiful Stavan by Sadhvi Sanghmitraji, the ceremony kicked off with Deep Pragatya ceremony with Mangal Path.
India based Jain Acharya (Dharma Guru) blessed the occasion with their Ashirwachan (Blessings).
The convention convenor Mr. Bindesh Shah, and JAINA president Mr. Haresh Shah welcomed everyone and officially opened up the convention. In his address, Bindesh Shah appreciated the hardworking, highly talented team of 300+ people, including the Convention Board, Convention Committees Chairs, Co-Chairs, Committee members, and volunteers. Bindesh mentioned the significance of the overall programming content covering topics around Health and Ecology, Spirituality and Soul
Nourishing knowledge of Jainismand a fun-filled evening entertainment program for lighter moments. He also appreciated the generosity of the esteemed donors who supported this convention financially. Haresh Shah recognized and appreciated hard working team of JAINA Executive Committee, Directors, Programs Committees, and Convention Board and Convention team. Haresh also shared details of JAINA achievements and major highlights around various JAINA activities related to Environment, Education, Humanitarian Services, Govt and Public relations, Community Outreach, Youth Services, Vaiyavach project, and JITO integration.
This convention introduced a unique program of Story Telling by the famous YouTuber Shatilalji Gulecha. Shatilalji in his first story conveyed very important message for life in a simple with humor – importance of five “C”s – Don’t Criticize, Don’t Cry, Don’t Complain, Don’t Compare, and Do Compliment.
JAINA awarded JAINA Ratna Award to Mr. Chandrakant Mehta, a Scholar, Writer, Author, Speaker, Teacher, and Aaradhak. Chandrakant Mehta has made numerous contributions to Jain Community worldwide. He has been an inspiring spiritual speaker for many Jain Sanghs in North America. Besides in North America, he has performed Paryushan, Shibir, and Swadhyay in Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Dubai, Kenya, Belgium, and India. He has served in many leadership roles, including JAINA Director, Awards Committee member, Chairman of the Board for JCNJ, and Co-chairman for Franklin Township Derasar Pratishtha. He authored several books: “Siddha Chakra Aaradhana ane Rahasyo”, “Bhaktamar Stotra with Meaning” a two-volume book “Tatvarth Sutraâ” written in simple, easy-to-follow language. He also received JAINA Scholar Recognition Award in 201. JAINA is honored to present the most prestigious award JAINA RATNA to Mr. Chandrakant Mehta for his invaluable contributions.
Mahasanghpati Drs. Kiran C. & Pallavi Patel – an Indian-American philanthropist, serial entrepreneur, hotelier, and cardiologist, gave his opening remarks and emphasized the value of philanthropy. While sharing his journey of a successful life, he shared some great quotes: “If you can dream something, you can make it happen,” “You can create your own destiny – that’s what’s called maximizing human potential”, “If you want happiness for a year, create a fortune, but if you want to be happiness for a lifetime, help someone else”. The Drs. Kiran C. and Pallavi Patel Family focuses on bettering the world through health, education, and culture. The impact of their extraordinary generosity is evident across the globe, particularly in Florida, India, and Africa. While actively initiating projects, they also respond generously in times of need.
Sanghpati Rajiv & Latika Jain, the asset management billionaire and philanthropist, live in South Florida and are devout followers of Jainism and have Maximized their Potential in a Jain way. Though he was not able to attend the convention due to personal conflict, he generously supported this convention.
Along with these Sanghpatis, JAINA is fortunate and grateful to its esteemed donors who generously donated to support this convention fully. JAINA and the Convention Board greatly appreciate generous donations from countless donors and sponsors of this large-scale international event.
The entire ceremony for all three days was conducted by JAINA PR lead and Emcee, Ms. Savita Jain. Savita is a well-known Emcee for large-scale Indian events, including Akshaya Patra, JITO, and JAINA events.
Sri Guru Ratna Prabhu’s keynote speech – The Mahaveera Way in the 21st Century – marked the inauguration of the JAINA convention in Lakeland. Here, she emphasized the importance of addressing the “why” behind religious concepts, bridging the gap between traditional teachings and present understanding. Sri shed light on the three A’s – Ahimsa, Anekantvaad, and Aparigraha – and provided a spiritual perspective on how to put them into practice in our daily lives. Her second session at the convention explored relationships with self, others, and God. Sri Guru helped us realize that our relationships are either mature or immature. Mature relationships are those in which we stay or leave happily. Immature relationships are those in which we neither live happily, nor we become happy when we leave those relations. Similarly, our relationship with God is mostly out of fear or complaints. This should be transformed into a relationship full of gratitude and love. The attendees were swept away by Sri Guru’s spiritual understanding, finding answers to questions that had long evaded them.
On Day 2, Nem Rajul Nrutya Natika (Musical Drama) – Cultural Program, This is the story of 22nd Tirthankar Bhagawan Neminath which depicts his life events from his youth as a prince, his engagement to princess Rajul, his marriage procession (ભવ્ય વરઘોડો), his compassion towards animals and his instant change of heart, resulting in his denouncing the world and taking Diksha. This is the story of Raag and Virag, Eternal Love and Renunciation. This dance drama is entertaining, yet thought provoking, which incorporates nine dances and many drama characters.
Nem-Rajul Nrutya Natika, a Musical Cultural Program – presented by JAINA, Produced by the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago in collaboration with various Sanghs of North America.
This convention held 15th Jain Academic Bowl (JAB) Tournament. 8 Pathshala centers participated in this tournament with a total of 18 teams. One hundred eleven participants and 30+ coaches took part in the 2-day tournament with some very close-call matches that displayed an in-depth knowledge of Jainism and camaraderie. A Beginner category was introduced in person at this tournament consisting of 4 teams with participants playing JAB for the very first time.
The results of this JAB tournament are as follows:
Winner: Jain Center of New Jersey- Caldwell (Team-Purusharth)
Runner-up: Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington (Team- DC JABardast!)
Other Senior teams:
Jain Society of Houston (Team- Shrenik)
Jain Center of New Jersey- Franklin Township (Team- Pramod)
Jain Society of Central Florida (Team- Moksh Mavericks)
Winner: Jain Center of New Jersey- Caldwell (Team- Niyati)
Runner-up: Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington (Team- DC Paramatma)
Other Junior teams:
Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago (Teams- Hrim & Arham)
Jain Society of Houston (Team- Kumarpal)
Jain Center of New Jersey (Team- Ahimsa)
Jain Center of New Jersey- Franklin Township (Team- Karuna)
Jain Center of Central Florida (Team- Tirthankar Titans)
Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington (Team- DC Dharamatma)
Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago (Team- Om)
Jain Center of New Jersey- Franklin Township (Team- Maitri)
Jain Center of Central Florida (Team- Om AwesOMers)
Jain Society of Tampa Bay (Team- Naman Siddham)
Congratulations To All The Participants!!!
Young Jains Professional (YJP) Update: 100 Young Jain professionals attend JAINA 2023. Seven seasoned speakers delivered and moderated highly informative and fun events, including Youth Community Seva, professional skill development and learning sessions, ice-cream social and special Garba, and Formal DJ night. Co-Chair Ananya Jain and Co-Chair Ketul Kothari were very instrumental in making YJP events successful.
Young Jains of America (YJA) Update: Over 100 youth gathered at the bi-annual JAINA convention in Lakeland, FL. Sessions were led on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to comparative religions to seva! They also got to enjoy the outdoors and meet people from all across the nation. Huge shoutout to the youth activities team for putting on such an amazing weekend! YJA youths absolutely loved seeing new and old faces at JAINA this year!
A special international panel discussion on “Values-Based Education (or Mulyavardhan)” conducted with Padmabhushan Dr Jagdish Sheth (Charles Kellstadt Professor of Business Management at Emory University), PadmaShri Dr Sudhir Jain (VC of Banaras Hindu University), Shri Shantilal Muttha (Chairman of Bharatiya Jain Sanghathan from Pune), and Moderator Dr Akhtar Badshah (Professor of Business Management at University of Washington in Seattle).
This year we introduced new event called Professional Networking. With 180 people strong registration and with 160 people attended the actual session, the event was very successful with engaging audience during a moderated panel discussion with highly successful professionals, including serial entrepreneurs and philanthropists, intrapreneurs, and Chief Product Officer as well as Chief Marketing Officer, Political leader and US Congressman candidate. Objective of this event was to provide:
An avenue for people to hear and learn from speakers who’ve made it
Guidance to climb the corporate ladder and become a successful leader
An opportunity to connect and network with many people to subsequently build relationships
The overall event was well received. JAINA will continue to build a Professional Network using LinkedIn and, later on, with an invite-only professional networking forum.
Kids Club Update:
This past weekend, over 75 children enjoyed the bi-annual through the Kids Camp . They participated in fulfilled structured activities for 2 days, be it religious interactive activities from samnijis,visiting the temple, to visit from tooth fairy for dental care, yoga, and meditation to making a swastika and our Jain ohm artwork. Kids received their own JAINA logo sling bags . They were thrilled to have specially catered cupcakes and ice cream bar for snacktimes. Thanks to all the enthusiastic teenagers, young adults, to grandparent volunteers who were involved in the fun along with the safety of our children
Women’s Conference Update:
The JAINA Women’s Committee, established in 2015, has been actively organizing conferences and empowering women through lectures and seminars. At the recent JAINA Convention, they presented a successful seminar titled “Our Future, Our Choice, Our Destiny,” featuring two inspiring speakers. Dr. Rumadevi shared her journey from a small village to empowering women through traditional embroidery, while Yogita Shah discussed her path to becoming a top engineer at NASA. The seminar was well received, with full attendance and appreciation. from attendees of all ages. Co-Chair Pramodaben Chitrabhanu. Co-Chair Dr. Mamta Shaha introduced the conference and the committee, sharing two poems that had a profound impact on her. The first poem expressed the challenges faced by women, while the second poem highlighted the story of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. The conference concluded with future project discussions, and attendees were encouraged to embrace the anthem for women’s empowerment.
Jain Connect Update: Jain Connect team held the in-person meetup as part of the JAINA Convention. The event was designed to bring together singles looking to meet other singles and potentially find romantic life partner connections. With 140 registered candidates, Jain Connect was a great success. Attendees came from diverse backgrounds and professions, including finance, business, medicine, entertainment, and technology. The event featured several popular activities, like speed dating and icebreaker games. Keynote address by Kavita Patel, a renowned relationship coach, was well received. Fun events like “Who love is it anyway” , “Nach Meri Jaan”, and skating events were enjoyed with high attendance.
In honor of Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji’s 100th Anniversary, JAINA presented a premier show of Maitri Bhav, a high-caliber drama depicting the life of Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji, the spiritual leader who blessed the foundation of JAINA. This drama was a monologue act by a famous actor Dharmendra Gohil who in past has performed in the movie “Chal Man Jeetva Jaiyee”, drama “Apurva Avsar” and many other religious and family-oriented dramas and movies. The drama was conceived and directed by Manoj Shah. The opening song was written by JAINAâ€™s past president Dilip V. Shah. One hour long monologue act kept audience full of Arena fully engrossed with mesmerizing life story of Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji.
Jains Got Talent (JGT) program once again received outstanding recognition by all the convention attendees. JGT brings top talents from within Jain Community nationwide and provides a platform to showcase these top talents during this convention. A team of Judges and volunteers made this program become extremely successful as a Flagship event of JAINA Convention. Following are the winners recognized during this convention:
First Place Winner
Second Place Winner
Maya Doshi, New Jersey
V Dancers, Maryland
Sanay Lunavat, Florida
Sania & Aarav Mehta, California
Shaily Shah, California
Rishabh Shah, Illinois
Sharmila Mehta, Maryland
Southern Lights of JCSF, Florida
Jaya Shah, New Jersey
Ghumata Rang, Florida
During this convention, many profit and non-profit vendors contributed to showcase their businesses/organizations/services. Some of the noteworthy Non-Profit organizations are Akshaya Patra, Ekal Vidyalaya, and Parliament of World Religion. JAINA appreciates all the vendors and Non-Profit organizations for their support and contribution.
Each evening started with beautiful Aarti and Mangal Divo by sponsor families of the Convention, followed by mesmerizing Tirth Darshan Yatra through video presentation in grand Yukee Theater. Tirth Darshan of the 4 holiest Jain Tirths (Pilgrimage) in india was Spellbinding and Emotional! The broadcast of the never-before-seen footage of bhavya tirth dhams, with its historical importance narrated in professional and divine voice and filmed with high-resolution 4K videos through drone, mesmerized the attendees.
On the final day of the Convention, July 3rd, 2023, an extraordinary session kicked off: Laughter Yoga led by Mrs. Alka Sankhala. With her blend of humor, singing, and yogic movements, Mrs. Sankhala guided attendees on improving their health, from knees to hearts. Witnessing thousands of people laugh and prioritize their well-being simultaneously was a truly remarkable and delightful experience.
Following the yoga session, Dhruvi Jain and Subrata Pathak mesmerized the audience with an Odissi dance on Darshanam Deva Devasyam Jain bhajan. The rendition of Indian classical dance on a Jain bhajan was a unique performance and very apt and in some ways meditative.
The last session before the closing ceremony was given by one of the most loved speakers in the Jain community, Mr. Rahul Kapoor, on the topic of Jain Practices, Genes, and Health. The stadium was completely packed for the session. Mr. Kapoor said that he was inspired by Dr. Deepak Chopra’s book, Super Genes. Mr. Kapoor went on to explain to the non-clinically trained audience basic to advanced concepts of genes and how the karma theory of Jainism is related to genetics. It is undoubtedly a complicated topic, which Mr. Kapoor simplified using creative graphics, videos, and his simple language. With his classic dramatic style and dynamic personality, Mr. Kapoor yet again stole hearts and left people inspired to learn more.
Right after Mr. Kapoor’s session began the closing ceremony, which was kicked off with Mangal Path by Sadhavi Sanghamitraji. JAINA President, Mr. Haresh Shah, in his remarks thanked the Convention Convenor, Mr. Bindesh Shah, on pulling through a remarkable convention that brought more than 3000 Jains together across North America. He said,”In a world that is often plagued with conflict and discord, Jainism offers a timeless message of non-violence, compassion, and respect of all living beings.”
The JAINA Convention 2023 Convenor, the leader responsible for the successful execution of the Convention, Mr. Bindesh Shah, concluded the convention with his emotional remarks, thanking all the religious leaders, dignitaries, speakers, and volunteers. In the humblest manner, Mr. Shah said, “This Convention was only possible by the efforts of many, many dedicated volunteers and professionals. It is my privilege to recognize these dedicated committee members and volunteers today. It is their day and we must recognize them.” He acknowledged the hard work of over 30 committees, hundreds of volunteers, stretched over several months. With these comments, he invited all the committees and volunteers to join him on stage.
Mr. Shah closed the convention saying, “It is difficult to say goodbye after four days of spiritual learning, entertainment, and fun filled JAINA Convention” and invited everyone to join the next JAINA Convention in 2025.
BIG THANKS FROM THE CONVENTION BOARD AND THE CONVENTION COMMITTEE