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 <<CityNews Main Send Flowers to India!

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Jain Temple In Atlanta Inaugurated With Joyous Fanfare


Hundreds of Jain devotees participated in the eleven – day inauguration of the first-ever Jain Temple in Atlanta, situated within the City of Norcross, Georgia; from Friday November 14 to Monday November 24, 2008. 

Erudite Jain scholars, monks and nuns from India, leading community activists, distinguished professionals, patrons and visitors from neighboring states and overseas and leading political figures of the City of Norcross were also present at the event.

The collective dream project of the Jain community finally became a reality when the much awaited Murti-Pratishtha ceremony; infusing divinity in the statues and installing them in the sacred sanctorum, in its pristine purity, was performed on Sunday, November 23. The same day the temple declared itself debt free, albeit void of any commercial loans taken, even the zero % free financing of funds given by Jain community members was slated to be paid back. 

The statues, all 35 of them, were handcrafted by artisans in Jaipur, from the exquisite white marble found in Rajasthan, India. Shirish Gandhi, who is responsible for the construction of this supreme structure, in conjunction with the main architect and noted Indian American politician Tony Patel, said: "One of the striking features of our temple is that more than 60% of the total cost of the project was spent right here in U.S.A. For example, the interior dome over the Rangmandap was manufactured in America by American artists and artisans. The four beautiful exterior domes are made out of fiberglass, not far from Cleveland, Ohio. More than 97% of the flooring material was bought right here in Atlanta and the exterior and interior marble is installed by local workers some of whom are working with marble for the first time". 

The spectacular marble Derasar (temple) is based on sacred Jain tradition, with ornate designs of the shikhar (dome), artistic ceiling panels, a bold medallion design under the Rangmandap in the marble floor on the main level; German silver paneled doors with carved Jain motifs, garbhagrah, bhomti; a semi circle inlaid with marble idols of all twenty-four Tirthankaras, for the Swetamber (devotees who worship Lord Mahavirsawmi in his princely form) and Digamber (devotees who worship Lord Mahavirswami in his ascetic / monk form) Jinalay. There is also a separate meditation room built on the lower level for the Sthanakvasi’s i.e. devotees who meditate with God’s spirit in mind, void of statue worship. 

Jain Society of Greater Atlanta (JSGA) is a robust organization with over 400 members with their respective families. Prior to 1992, families were getting together on informal basis for various Jain religious and social activities. The JSGA was formed in 1992. According to Jain Society of Greater Atlanta President Deepak Shah the 3 phase construction Project began in 1996 when 3.7 acres of land was acquired for the Jain Center and Temple in the fastest growing Gwinnett County, Georgia. 
Phase 3 of the project was the construction of the Shikharbandhi Temple. The Temple Committee worked with architect Tony Patel and Sompura in Ahmedabad, India.”Anjan- Shalakha”; ceremonial breathing-in of the vision aura to the marble statue of the Mulnayak i.e. main deity, Shri Adinath Bhagwan was carried out in Walkeshwar, Mumbai in October 2008. Mulnayak Adinath flanked with pratimas of Lord Mahavirswami and Lord Parshvanath is on the main floor. 

The ritual-studded ceremonies were conducted by and uplifting spiritual discourses were delivered by Pujya Jinchandraji Maharaj, Pujya Acharya Shree Chandanaji, Pujya Shree Devendrakirtiji, Swami Shri Shrutpragnaji, Sadhviji Shree Subhamji, Swamiji Shree Ankleshji Swamiji Ashwinipragnaji, and Shramanijis from Florida, Vidhikar Naredrabhai Nandu and Pratishthacharya Pandit Mahipalji Shah. There was a rich blend of entertainment in the form of thought provoking dramas, dandiya raas and cultural entertainment program, Shobha Yatra and a spectacular procession of floats. All through the procession, Mayor Bucky Johnson and Councilman Newton paraded, danced and rejoiced with the devotees. During the walk, Mayor Johnson discussed with Atlanta’s well known social activist and JSGA’s P R Officer Viren Mayani the history of Norcross and why he feels compelled to be on the streets, rejoicing with his electorate and understand them through personal time spent with them. 

On Friday evening, Mayani introduced Atlanta’s well-known community activists like Narender Reddy, Dr. Narsi Narsimhan, Ritesh Desai and others. Mayani, who is Atlanta Mayor’s Business Manager to the Executive Office read Mayor Shirley Franklin’s letter expressing her greetings, congratulations and best wishes for a successful celebration. 

State Rep.Dist.99 GA, Hugh Floyd, in his address said, “It is an honor to be here tonight and to watch you grow. I hope to be invited back to many more events and am prepared to help in whatever way I can”. 

Mayor Johnson, in his address said, “I am so proud to have you in the community. The tenets that you espouse are so important in the world that we now live in, that people around the globe are basically our next-door neighbors and we need to learn to live together. The tenets that our very own Martin Luther King, espoused are the ones that inspired Gandhi from your religion. I welcome you, congratulate you and honor you for all your accomplishments for your community to come together and produce such a beautiful place in our city. We will help you with whatever we can do”. 

JSGA President Deepak Shah, Vice President Anil Shah, Treasurer Rajan Joshi, Secretary Paresh Shah; Youth Secretary Ms.Meeta Parikh, Executive Members Kiran Shah and Mrs. Madhu Sheth were also recognized and thanked for their dedication, drive and determination. Also recognized was the skilled craftsman from Jaipur-Champalal Narayan.

The spicy, cultural show compeered by bubbly and jovial trio of Karishma Kamdar, Neetu Trivedi and Mona Patel had a rich mix of bhangra, garbas, tribal and classical dances choreographed to showcase the rich talent of the Jain Samaj performers in a range encompassing pre-teens to parents.

On Saturday morning, an exotic procession of beautifully themed floats festooned with flower-garlands ,and carrying the idols began a two mile ride from Rock Tenn Parking Lot to the temple after which the idols were gently carried inside the temple for Pratishtha ceremony on the following day. 

Sunday was a red letter day in the history of JSGA, when the devotees participated in historic Prathishtha Mahotsav. Nandubhai and his son Kayvan conducted Ghee Boli . Pratishtha of all Tirthanker idols was gracefully performed amidst chanting of sacred mantras and later all joined in participating in the spiritually suffused Aarti. 
Rejoice ! JSGA finally has a Temple in Atlanta to maintain and strengthen Jain religion and heritage. 


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