Have you been to a Jain temple?

SAM_2639 copyIn 1975, a radio announcement went out looking for individuals who wanted a place to worship as Jains. Fifty families gathered to start what would be a growing religious community in Farmington Hills. Over the next four decades, the Jain Society of Greater Detroit reached many milestones, first worship service, formation of executive board, institution of study programs, visiting scholars, summer camp programs, and the start of service programs like a clothes collection for the needy in India.

In 1989, they purchased the land at Twelve Mile Road and Middlebelt in Farmington Hills, and in 1997, 160 families participated in the brick laying for the temple, which opened a year later.

On Tuesday, September 27, Exploring Our Religious Landscapes participants will be welcomed to their temple, and have the unique opportunity to visit one of less than 100 Jain temples in the United States.

Walking into the large white building, one is surrounded by colorful flags, and the images of the Jain Tirthankaras. There have been, according to Jain tradition, 24 Tirthankaras, humans who have, through purity of thought, word, and action, achieved spiritual purity, or moksha.

Although Jains make offerings to the Tirthankaras, they do not worship the being, but the achievement of Moksha.

After entering the temple, participants will get share dinner, followed by a tour of the expansive prayer hall, learning about Jainism, and a chance to ask questions.

An ancient religion, dating back at least 5,000 years, Jainism focuses on Ahimsa, non-violence. Jains believe that everything has a soul, including rocks, plants, and animals, and that each soul is unique, equal, and eternal. In Jain philosophy, karma is a physical substance that is drawn to the soul, but can be shed through right thoughts, right words, and right actions. The ultimate goal is Moksha, which is attained by shedding all karma.

The session will examine Ahimsa, and other Jain values, such as non-attachment to belongings. Participants will learn about Jain clergy, Jain worship services, the difference between Jainism and Hinduism, what the deities represent, and the meaning of the symbols in the temple, including the swastika. The swastika is a symbol found in many ancient traditions. In Sanskrit, “swastika” essentially means “well-being.”

Since Jains number less than 5 million worldwide, concentrated mostly in India, the opportunity to visit the temple, learn about Jainism, and ask questions of community members is a rare one. We hope you will join us for this very special program.

The full schedule of this fall’s Exploring our Religious Landscapes also includes:

Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple: Tuesday, August 30th–  26233 Taft Road, Novi

The Jain Temple of Farmington Hills: Tuesday, September 27th–  29278 12 Mile Road, Farmington Hills

The First Church of Christ, Scientist: Tuesday, November 1st– 191 North Chester Street, Birmingham

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Tuesday, November 29th, 37425 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills

Click here to register