Twenty-five years ago, a few Jain families came together in Charlotte and formed a Jain study group. The group met on a monthly basis for religious discourses and discussions and to celebrate the Jain festivals during the year. Over the years, it has grown to a 100-plus family community. The Jain Center of Greater Charlotte (JCGC) was formed to accommodate the needs of the growing community, with a dream to build a Jain temple in the Charlotte vicinity. The fundraising and planning started several years ago, and the construction of the facility was completed in September.
Jainism, an Indian religion by origin, believes in non-violence toward all living beings, and it accepts the fact that truth is multifaceted. Jainism acknowledges the viewpoints of other religious philosophies and strongly believes in the theory of karma. The goal of each Jain follower is to attain liberation of the soul and attain moksha, the ultimate salvation, and Jains follow the teachings of lord Mahavir.
On September 12, 2011, a silver lock was unlocked with a silver key, and the Jain temple doors opened; the dream of the JCGC had been realized. The door-opening ceremony was preceded by a three-day celebration of festivities and rituals. The performers of the ceremony and festivities were invited from India, drawing on the Indian roots of Jainism.
The festivities started on the evening of Sept. 9 with a cultural program. On Sept. 10, the ceremonies started in the early morning, followed by a procession of more than 100 people who walked and danced to the tune of a live band singing religious songs on the streets of Charlotte. The procession was led by a car carrying the idol of Lord Shri Sankheshwar Parshwanath the 23rd tirthanker, who was then ceremoniously welcomed into the temple.
On Sept. 11, the grand pratishtha ceremony (idol installation ceremony) was performed, after which people celebrated joyously. Tears of happiness flowed, as so many people were able to see their dream for the temple come true. Now the temple consists of a center hall for prayers, worship and celebrating Jain festivals and a stage for cultural programs. There are several smaller rooms surrounding the hall for other activities and a small kitchen. In the near future, they plan to add a main temple enclave with a traditional canopy, a larger kitchen and a dining hall.
The success of the event and the JCGC, the only Jain temple in existence between Atlanta and Washington, D.C., was the result of many sacrifices and donations from the members of the Jain community. Local volunteers worked day and night for the success of the celebration, and all of the meals of the festivities were provided for participants, thanks to generous donations. The opening of the Jain temple was the culmination of a long journey, and the well-deserved celebration marks the start of a new chapter for this community organization.
More information The temple will be open every day; on weekdays it will be open 9:30-10:30 a.m. and 7:30-8:30 p.m. On weekends, it will be open 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. and 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Jain Center of Greater Charlotte 7631 Mallard Creek Road Charlotte, NC 28262 www.jaincenter.us