Jainism in the United States
Adherents of Jainism first arrived in the United States in the 20th century. The most significant time of Jain immigration was in the early 1970s. The United States has since become a center of the Jain Diaspora.
In 1893, Virachand Gandhi was officially first jain delegate to visit USA and represent Jainism in first ever Parliament of World Religions. Virchand Gandhi is considered a key figure in the history of American Jainism as the first practicing Jain to speak publicly in the United States about Jainism. The first St. Louis Jain temple in the United States was built for the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. After the fair, the temple was moved to Las Vegas and later to Los Angeles. It is now owned by the Jain Society of Los Angeles. Adherents of Jainism first arrived in the United States in the 20th century. The most significant time of Jain immigration was in the early 1970s. The United States has since become a center of the Jain Diaspora.
The first former Jain monastic to travel to the United States, Chitrabhanu, arrived in 1971. He gave several lectures about Jainism at Harvard University and established a Jain center in New York. A second former monk, Acharya Sushil Kumarji, arrived in the United States in 1975. He established multiple Jain centers. In the 1980s the Federation of Jain Associations in North America was founded to support the Jain community in the United States and Canada.
As of 2010 the United States contained the most Jain temples of any country in the Jain diaspora. At least one third of the Jains living outside of India live in the United States, numbering close to 100,000. Jain temples in the United States, which numbered 26 as of 2006, frequently incorporate marble and arches in a style reminiscent of Rajasthan architecture. There are almost 100 distinct Jain congregations in the United States.
Vinod Kapasi has argued that the differences between the Svetambara and Digambara communities are not seen as significant to most Jains in the United States. He also notes that Jain temples in North America are rarely associated with a specific sect, as they often are in India or the United Kingdom.
Federation of Jain Associations in North America
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The Federation of Jain Associations in North America is an umbrella organization of local American and Canadian Jain congregations to preserve, practice, and promote Jainism and the Jain Way of Life.
The Federation of Jain Associations in North America uses a modified version of the standard Jain symbol, the Jain Prateek Chihna. It replaces the Swastika with the Om, because the Swastika is not considered a pious symbol in the western world.
American Jain Centers
Most of the Jain centers are complexes that include a main temple that houses both Shvetambara and Digambara images, libraries, meeting rooms, room for visiting monks/nuns etc.
- Jain Center of America
- Jain Center of Northern California
- Jain Center of Southern California
- Jain Center of Greater Phoenix
- Jain Society of Greater Atlanta
- Jain Society of Seattle
- Jain Society of Greater Cleveland
Jain Center of America in New York City with images of Tirthankaras.
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