Members of the Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington at a gathering to celebrate the foundation laying for a new temple coming up in Maryland. Photo courtesy of Jain Society.

The Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington (JSMW) laid the foundation for one of the most beautiful temples to be built in Metropolitan Washington, on October 6, 2019. Planned to be built with white marble on a 5.5-acre land in Beltsville, Maryland, the temple will be place of worship for hundreds of Jain families in the Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC region.

JSMW’s goal is to increase awareness of Jain principles, inculcate Jain values in future generations, achieve unity of all Jains sects, and promote inter-faith understanding. The 30,000 sq. ft. Jain Center will be a single large complex with places of worship for multiple Jain sects, according to a press release.

The complex will include Shwetambar Temple, Digambar Temple, Sthanak, Upashray, an educational and social wing that will offer a library, Pathshala classrooms (Sunday school), a community center, and a multi-purpose auditorium.

The three-day grand festival, named Shilanyas Mahotsav (Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony), was attended by about 1000 people and marked with religious ceremonies, fundraising activities, and festivities. The temple site was a beautifully decorated pavilion for various religious ceremonies. A large 9-foot deep dugout was prepared around the temple foundation adorned by flags bearing Jain colors.

The Shilanyas Mahotsav kicked off on Friday, October 4th with a Raas-Garba musical program, where families in traditional dresses danced to live music. Next day on October 5th, under guidance of skilled Vidhikar Shri Narendrabhai Nandu, the entire community joined hands to perform rituals on the Shilas. The day culminated with an entertaining cultural program where community members from New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC performed religious dances, hymns, and a skit with participants ranging from infants to octogenarians.

The following day, on October 6th, the fundraising effort received an overwhelming support from the community with several donors coming forward to contribute toward the project. With more than $3 million raised with the Shilanyas event, the community was elated to see their dreams becoming a reality. Followed by the fundraising, individuals with their hearts filled with joy proceeded to lay the foundational marble slabs, called “Shilas”, in 95 holy spots across the construction site.

The Jain Center will be located at 4241 Ammendale Road, Beltsville, Maryland and is projected to complete in about three years.

The founders of the Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington established the temple in 1980 with the objective of promoting better understanding and following of Jain principles, preserving our rich heritage, and passing it on to future generations. From the initial membership of 20 families in 1980, Jain Society membership has grown to nearly 650 families.

 

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