BY MAHADEV DESAI
Atlanta’s Jain Community, which practices Jainism, is a very close knit, progressive, vibrant and well-respected community, whose members have excelled in many fields and have contributed significantly to Georgia’s economy as well as to its cultural diversity. The subcontinent of India, a cradle of civilization is also the birthplace of Jainism. The Jain religion and its philosophy being one of the oldest, predating recorded histories has become one of the essential spiritual traditions of the South Asian religious fabric. Jain Temples have been built in many parts of the world, including the US.
The Jain community in the South East USA too decided to have their own temple.
Jain Society of Greater Atlanta’s (JSGA) dream to build a Spectacular Marble Derasar (Temple) with intricate designs hand carved by some of the greatest craftsmen in Jaipur, India is about to be realized. The project began way back in 1996, with a ritual-studded ground breaking ceremony for the Jain Center / Derasar, with shikhar (dome), pratimajis, auditorium, kitchen, dining hall, library, and accommodation for visiting guests. The ceremony was performed on a 3.75 acre site at 669 South Peachtree St., Norcross, Georgia on Sunday April 5 1996.
In the year 2000, the first phase (main floor) of the Center was built, and in 2001 the second phase (basement) was completed resulting in a two story building of 14,000 plus square feet where the Society’s 400 plus Jain families could meet for regular poojas, bhavanas, pathsala classes, lectures and celebrations of festivals.
The Society is now ready for the third phase; the building of the Temple. Following joint consultations between Sompura in Ahmedabad and local architects, a beautiful design was made and approved by the County in 2006. On auspicious Vijaya-Dashami, the Khat-Mahurat ceremony was performed at the Temple site in October, 2006.
The construction of the Temple began in 2007 and is progressing very well. Sompura is working on the Shikhar, arches, pillars and other delicate marble carvings.
Members of the 2008 Executive Committee; President Deepak Shah, Vice-President Anil Shah, General Secretary Paresh Shah; Treasurer Rajan Doshi,Youth-coordinator Meeta Parikh, and committee members Kiran Shah and Madhuben Sheth briefed the media representatives Mustafa Ajmeri,Ravi Ponangi, Ved Bhatia, Kailash Khandelwal and Mahadev Desai,on the final phase of construction. After a brief tour of the temple site, Deepak Shah and Paresh Shah made a PowerPoint presentation of the proposed construction, and estimated expenditure of the project.
In brief, the Temple will have traditional design including Ghabhara for pratimajis (3 Mul Nayak’s Shwetambar Pratimajis on upper floor) and (3 Mul Nayak’s Digambar Pratimajis on the floor below), Shikhar, Rang mandap, and Bhomati with Murti’s of the 24 Tirthankar. The three main pratimas will be surrounded by 24 tirthankars in a rectangular /stepped semi circle. The marble floor will have a seating capacity of more than 250 devotees. The project is expected to cost ₤ 2.7 million. JSGA seeks to raise this amount through generous individual and corporate sponsors, donations and interest-free loans.
JSGA is extremely grateful to the main sponsors Quantum National Bank. In fact, Quantum National Bank’s Chairman, Dr.Neel Neelagaru, attended the Pooja and Media briefing ceremony accompanied with Ms Deepa Kumari and Vinay Bose and also made a donation. Other major sponsors so far are Patel Brothers; MGR Palace, Nobel Investments, Raj Bhog ; Dosa Houze, & Bhindi Jewelers’.