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Jain Society of Metropoliton Chicago Hosts Jain Academicians

Wednesday, December 5, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Manju AN
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On November 18, 2012, "Gnan Panchami” day, Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago (JSMC) hosted a reception dinner for nearly 35 Jain academicians and International School for Jain Studies (ISJS) officers. These academicians were part of 15,000 attendees at theAmerican Academy of Religions (AAR) and Dharma Academy of North America (DANAM) annual convention at McCormick Convention center. This year 8 Jainism related papers were presented.

The event was organized by ISJS as MEET & GREET event for the scholars who teach Jainism at various American and Canadian Universities. Every year during AAR & DANAM conference, ISJS arranges visits to the local Jain Temple and meeting with members of the Jain community. In previous years, ISJS worked with Atlanta and San Francisco Jain centers to host these Meet & Greet Events.

This year, JSMC had to hire a bus to bring these esteemed delegates from the convention center 35 miles away to their Temple complex in Bartlet, IL.Upon arriving, these esteemed visitors were greeted by the Jain Center ladies, Trustees, Executive Committee members and many community members in a traditional Jain manner. They were than escorted in to the Temple and keynote speaker for the evening, Dr. Whitney Kelting of Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts was invited to do Aarti and the ISJS representatives were invited to perform Mangal Divo. The delegates were then given a complete tour of the Temple complex including Pathshala class rooms, library and Aaradhna hall. This was followed by a grand Vegan dinner. Chairman of the Trustees, Arvindbhai Shah and President Tejas Shah formally welcomed all the scholars and introduced his committee members. During dinner, Dr. Sulekh Jain ( Chairman, ISJS Governing Council) introduced scholars and Professors like Christopher Chapple, Whitney Kelting, Kristi Willy, Tim Helton, Ramdas Lamb, Chris Haskett, Karma Lekshe, Jerry Carney, Mathew Fisher, Ellen Gough and Steve Vose to name a few. Sulekh Jain recognized many ISJS alumni among the scholars present. Later the mike was passed for each guest to introduce oneself briefly. In addition to Dr. Sulekh Jain, two other members of the ISJS governing Council (Dilip Shah, of Philadelphia and also past President of JAINA along with Dr. Subhash Jain, of Iowa City and Prof Emeritus, University of Iowa) also traveled to Chicago for this event.

Following the dinner, Prof. Chapple(Chaired professor at Loyola Marymount University and senior member of the ISJS Academic Council) introduced Prof. Whitney Keltingand invited her to deliver a talk. Prof. Whitney Kelting recalled that the first Jain Temple she ever visited was this one years ago and it was wonderful to see how it has grown over the years. She has been conducting on-­‐going field research with a community of Jains in Maharashtra, India. Her primary areas of research are religions of South Asia, ritual theory, gender studies and cultural studies. Her talk on the current trend in India of building new large and modern "Teerthdhams” was very illuminating and later she spoke about her book on heroic Jainwomen. She talked about lives of Mayna-Sundari, Rajul, Sulsa and other illustrious women described in the hymn on "16 Satis”. Her command of Indian languages and understanding of life of Jain women in India today really impressed and won loud applause from everyone.

Prof. Kelting expressed her gratitude towards the Jain community for a very warm welcome. In addition to this, she traced her memory back to her first visit of the Chicago Jain Center. She then briefly talked about her research experiences of temples in Pune, Maharashtra. She was honored with a shawl and a memento as a symbol of gratitude from the Jain community.Dr. Sulekh Jain introduced some Jain members of Chicago for their contribution, scholars who are associated with ISJS from its initiation and ISJS alumni. He finally concluded the evening program with some words of appreciation for the Jain community of Chicago.The scholars were taken back to their respective hotel in the same bus.

Nearly all the academics were full of praise for the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago, for their warmth, beautiful temple complex and the verities of activates there. These annual Meet & Greet events are a great way to develop mutually beneficial relationship between the Jain academics and the Jain community.

Picture shows Prof. Kelting being honored by the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago. 

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