JAINA Convention 2003 Exclusive Write-Up

JAINA Convention

�The Art of Living�

Cincinnati, Ohio USA

July 3 � July 6, 2003

Elizabeth Lehmann


This article relates some of my experiences at the JAINA Convention of 2003.   The convention offered a great variety of activities.  There were social gatherings, lecture sessions, entertainments, award and recognition ceremonies, puja, meditation, yoga, cultural programs, exhibition booths and many good meals.  There were some 6 to 14 different sessions going on each hour of the seminar lectures � so this is only one small slice of what was available!   Please see the Conference Schedule to get an appreciation of how much was offered.


On Thursday we arrived, registered, had dinner (traditional Indian vegetarian foods) and then attended the Raas Garba by Munshi Group.  There were hundreds of dancers � many in traditional clothing � and it was great fun for all. 


On Friday morning, we had breakfast � which consisted of cereals, fruits and Indian foods.


We then attended the opening ceremonies.  This began with a procession of some of the speakers and dignitaries attending the convention and included a procession of 61 banners � one from each of the 61 Jain Centers in North America � each being carried by a member from each Center.  The ceremony then continued with Welcoming Remarks and Blessings from Gurudev Chitrabhanuji, and Key note speeches from N. P. Jain , Dr. John Cort, Ms. Ingrid Newkirk, Hon. J. Kenneth Blackwell, Consulate Gen'l of India and other Honorees. 


After the Opening Ceremonies, we had lunch and then began our lecture sessions.  My first session was:  �Doctrine of Karma in Jain Philosophy by Shri Devendrakeerti Bhattarakji�.  This session consisted of a very technical and complete presentation of Karma theory.   Next, I attended: �Nav Tatva by Vastupal Parikh�.   Dr. Parikh is the author of �Jainism and the New Spirituality� a book which has been very helpful to me in my personal studies � so it was quite a treat to hear one of my favorite authors discussing the Operating Principles of the Universe from material taken from his own book.  Next I attended �Holistic Approach to Life through Reverence for Life by Pramodaben Chitrabhanu�.  The first two lecture sessions were Jain teachings and this session was how to apply these teachings to our lives.


Each afternoon, between sessions, we were treated to finger foods and tea, while we enjoyed the Exhibit Booths and conversation with the Exhibitors. 


The last lecture I attended Friday, was �Dealing with anger compassionately by Dr. Hemlata Pokharna and Dr. Mandakini Pokharna�.  This lecture taught us how to deal with difficult people.


After this, we had dinner and then the evening�s entertainment -  �Deepali Somaiya & group concert�.    Great music.  The concert was over at 11:00 PM.


Our first session Saturday morning was �Meditation for Women by Pramodaben Chitrabhanu�.  In this session we learned the various types of meditation, the importance of making this a continuing process in our lives, and then discussed techniques to use in our meditation.  We learned the importance of meditation in our overall goal to �WATCH� � watch our Words � watch our Actions, watch our Thoughts, watch our Character and watch our Habits.  Then Promodaji led us in meditation.  We would have stayed for hours if another group had not needed the room. 


Then we had our breakfast followed by �Siddhachakran Puja (Digambar Puja).  The Puja included beautiful singing.   After the puja, I studied and visited with friends.


Then we had lunch followed by another set of classes.  The first was �The Art of Living� by Gurudev Chitrabhanu.  This session was about living the Jain lifestyle.  Next was: �Developing Inner Power From Jainism to cope with lures & deceit by Vastupal Parekh�.   This was a continuation of the previous class by Dr. Parekh � and it explained how the principles of Jainism could be applied to make us mentally strong.  We next attended a special session of the �Art of Managing Stress-Samanji Shithpragyaji & Shruthpragyaji�.  We then shared some social time with some friends from our home center (Atlanta) and shared our dinner with a dear friend from West Virginia.


Saturday evening there was a cultural program that was done by groups from various Jain centers.  This event was very enjoyable and lasted until midnight.


Sunday morning we went to breakfast and was surprised to find that additional food was being provided for our trips home!  We then attended the Closing Cermonies: �Navkar, Opening Remark, Blessings from Amrendra Muniji, Panel discussion "Jainism The Art of Living perspective by Sadhu, Sadhviji, Samanji, Samaniji, Moderator-Nirmal Doshi & Closing Remarks�.


It was a wonderful convention!!  Here are some of my impressions: