Desi Talk – that’s all you need to know 4 July 12, 2019 COVER STORY By StaffWriter housands of Jain devotees from around the United States and the world met in the mas- sive Ontario Convention Center, Ontario, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, July 4-7, to celebrate their religion, observe its tenets, enjoy entertainment, listen to experts and profession- als, and explore modern Jainism. The very successful Convention was not phased by the July 4 earthquake that shook the building where it was being held. Sadhvi Sanghamitraji began reciting prayers leading the crowd of attendees, and organiz- ers assured the crowd, "The show will go on," Dr. Navin Shah, co-convenor of the Convention, told Desi Talk. Every two years JAINA, which was founded in 1981, works along with a local Sangh hosted a biennial con- vention, this year with 3,450 attendees and 600 volun- teers, 90 speakers, including 22 sadhu/sadhvis, organizers told Desi Talk. The theme for this convention was "Celebrating Jain Religion in 21st Century" where people shared how values of this ancient religion work in today's volatile society to promote values of ahimsa, anekan- tavada, and aparigraha, and have a positive impact in their communities. The organizers strove to deliver a "well-rounded" experience to attendees, according to the website In addition to sessions on 'Jain Philosophy' and 'Jain Virtues', there were panels on 'Devotion', Compassion', 'Transformation of Our Lives', as well as on current events in Jain communities and current world challenges. These themes were incorporated in youth pro- gramming as well. Pre-recorded speeches were played from renowned Jain gurus like Acharyas Shri Yashovijayji Maharaj, Shri Ratna Sundar Maharaj among others. Numerous dignitaries of multiple faiths delivered keynote speeches that highlighted the themes of the convention. Among them were Yogi Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev who is involved in social and environmental initiatives; U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, D- Hawaii, the first Hindu to be elected to Congress, sent a three-minute video blessing the event and express- ing her sadness at not being able to attend despite giving a commitment; Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); animal rights activist Philip Wollen; ISKCON Monk Motivational speaker, life coach and engineer, Monk Gaur Gopal Das of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON); and Nipun Mehta, founder of, a volunteer-based non- profit. Newkirk urged those present to spread their values to others. "There's nothing more wonderful than Jain values, so please press them on everyone you meet without any excuse, unfailingly and always," Newkirk said. The convention featured five distinct tracks of learning about Jain principles and practices during the afternoon sessions -- Seva, Satsang, Samarpan, Sadhana, and Self-Realization -- representing the steps in a path of the spiritual journey towards achieving moksha, the final liberation. For the first time in its history, the JAINA Convention held a seva health camp morning on the first day, treating many for dental and eye conditions. Fifty eye-glasses were handed out and 52 dental treat- ments given free of charge, sponsored by Dr. Atul Karia who gave his clinic space for free, Dr. Nitin Shah, co-convenor of the Convention told Desi Talk. Seva activities also included preparing 1,008 back- packs put together by Jain youth, with basic essen- tials, for distribution at three homeless shelters in Annaheim, Santa Ana, and San Diego through the organization You Turn Lives. This was sponsored by the Sarva Mangal Family Trust. On the first night Parth Doshi, Kalpesh Kharwa and Shilpi Paul sand and led the traditional Raas-Garba. Multiple speakers and dignitaries shared examples to demonstrate how a 'Jain Way of Life' could make a profound impact on an individual and allows them to influence those around them. Several awards were handed out during the Convention. Among them was the JAINA President's 20th JAINA Convention T Photo:MarkTyler President of Jain Association of North America Gunvant Shah, presents the JAINA President's Award to Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, and Dr. Sudha Parikh, at the 2019 JAINA Convention held in Ontario, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, July 4-7, 2019. Thousands gathered at the bi-ennial meet to observe seva, satsang, samarpan, sadhana, and self-realization Members of the team from Life Global, an Indian non-governmental organization which is reaching out to Americans, at the 2019 JAINA Convention held in Ontario, California, July 4-7, 2019. Continued on page 6 Photo:MarkTyler Among the speakers at the 20TH JAINA Convention held in Ontario, California July 4-7, was animal rights activist Philip Wollen. Photo:MarkTyler