December 2014

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

Young Minds December 2014

Est. 1991

http://yja.org/

Jai Jinendra! Thank you for taking the time to read the latest issue of Young Minds. We hope that you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed preparing it! The new YJA Executive board has been hard at work planning a great year! Retreats, dinners, and charity events are all in the works; we couldn’t be more excited to share these experiences with all of you. As we get closer to the new year, we encourage everyone to take this time to reflect on past experiences. As a board, we have decided to spend this upcoming year focusing on increasing application of Jain principles in our every day lives. YJA is our outlet for spreading the message of Jainism, and we hope to help all of you find your outlet. On behalf of the YJA Executive Board, we want to thank the JAINA Executive Committee, our Board of Trustees, and all of you for your continued support.

Thank you, Prerak Adhuria and Sneha Parikh 2014-2015 YJA Executive Board Co-Chairs

National Dinner Recap p.5 & p.6


Young Jains of America

December 2014

Inside this Issue: p. 4

p. 5-6

Maun Ekadashi: Celebrating Silence

National Dinner: Recap and Reflection

p. 7

The Truth of Celebration

p. 8

Fall Events Recap

p. 9-10

The Story of Light in Darkness

p. 10

Celebration Crossword

p. 11

Two Different Cultures, One Unique Lifestyle

p. 11

YJA Chicago Fall Flashback

From the Editor: Jai Jinendra, Fall has come to a close, and winter is setting in, and with this shift we move from Diwali parties to holiday gatherings, from mithai to pie. Fall is busy. Starting from Paryushan/Das Laxshan, through Navratri, and into Diwali, there is always something to celebrate religiously, culturally, or socially. Combine that with school, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, and there isn’t a weekend that passes without some form of gathering, dancing, or merrymaking. Celebrating implicitly implies interaction. Whether it is with my family, friends, or sangh, I know this season will bring me closer to all of my communities. In order to share this connection, the theme for this issue of Young Minds is “Celebration.” The past few months have been a time for both laughter and contemplation, and this issue strives to express both sentiments. I hope you enjoy reading the December Issue. Please reach out with any questions, comments, and suggestions to youngminds@yja.org. May your holiday season continue wonderfully! Warmly, Saejal Chatter 2014-2015 YJA Director of Publications

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

Contributors

Navak!r Mantra

Thank you for all your hard work and time this fall!

"am# arihant!$a% I bow to the arihants, destroyers of their inner enemies.

Mahima Shah Savan Shah Saniya Shah Jimika Mehta Pankti Doshi Kahan Parekh Ruchita Shah Juhi Nahata Aneri Shah Nishi Shah

A special thanks to: Akash Shah For his knowledge of all things YJA Manan Jobalia For helping with graphics, pictures, and layout

"am# siddh!$a% I bow to the siddhas, the liberated souls. "am# !yariy!$a% I bow to the acharyas, the religious leaders. "am# uvajjh!y!$a% I bow to the upadhyays, the religious teachers. "am# l#& savva s!h'$a% I bow to all the sadhus and sadhvis, those who have renounced the worldly life and follow a path of simplicity. (s#pancha$am#kk!r#, savvap!vappa$!sa$# Ma)gal! $a% ca savv&si%, pa*amama hava+ ma)gala% This five-fold bow (mantra) destroys all sins and obstacles, and of all auspicious mantras, is the first and foremost one. !

Sneha Parikh and Prerak Adhuria For helping with every step of the Young Minds process

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

Maun Ekadashi: Celebrating Silence Most people can easily name the dates on which Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated. But when it comes to a different holiday, one that is extremely important in Jainism, people are at a loss. Seven years ago, I had absolutely no idea what Maun Ekadashi was. Then one year, I went to the temple on this day, and I could tell something was different. Usually there were people hanging around and making small talk, but this time, although there were still people, there was complete silence. So naturally, me being my inquisitive self, decided to loudly ask “Why is no one talking, what happened?” After quickly being shushed, I was given a quick explanation – today is Maun Ekadashi, most people take a vow of silence to reflect on their thoughts and to prevent themselves from hurting anyone, even accidentally, through speech. And this simple, brief explanation somehow piqued my curiosity and propelled me to do my own research. I soon learned that Maun Ekadashi, although not as well known, is a Jain festival as important as Paryushan and Das Lakshan. It celebrates the 5 kalyanaks (auspicious events) of a Tirthanker’s life - conception, birth, renunciation of worldly life, omniscience, and nirvan. However, this day is particularly special because a total of 150 kalyanaks from Tirthankers of the past, present, and future, all fall on this day of Maun Ekadashi. This results in the day being so auspicious that any thought, word, or action is multiplied by 150 times. As a result, many people celebrate Maun Ekadashi by fasting, going to the temple to perform puja,

By: Mahima Shah, 18 and observing silence to restrict their speech in order to lessen their accumulation of bad karma. It is even said that if one observes Paushada (living the life of an ascetic) and takes the vow of complete silence (Maun) on this day for 11 years and 11 months, he or she will gain salvation in an upcoming life. This year, Maun Ekadashi fell on December 2nd. As this day is so noteworthy and has so much power, some ways to observe the holiday include going to the temple or spending time at home praying to the Tirthankers. Maybe even try to take a vow of silence, whether it be for an hour or for a whole day. Keep in mind that everything on this day is multiplied by 150 fold, so even one fast achieves the fruits of 150 fasts. Be sure to reflect upon your thoughts and actions for the day and keep in mind the sheer significance of Maun Ekadashi. And of course, don’t forget that although Maun Ekadashi is only officially observed for a single day each year, we should continue carrying out the same practices throughout our daily lives.

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

National Dinners This October, YJA hosted national dinners in over twenty cities across the country. Take a trip down memory lane with pictures and reflections from YOUR city.

“The YJA dinner was a lot of fun because I got to see a bunch of people I met at YJA over the years and past regional dinners, as well as a whole new crowd of people that attended this dinner.” -Savan Shah

“My favorite part of the YJA national dinner was meeting new Jain people in the local area while eating really great food!” -Saniya Shah 5


Young Jains of America

December 2014

National Dinners! “The YJA National Dinner in Philadelphia had a great turn out! There was a good mix of both old and new faces. Many of us were able to talk and connect both on Jain values and on a social level. It was an evening full of great food and great company.” -Jimika Mehta

Attendee Reflection “The YJA National Dinner is an event I look forward to every year because it really kicks off the year with seeing old faces, meeting the new YJA Board Members and LRs, connecting with new members, and sharing a delicious meal. The excitement in introducing yourself to another individual who shares the same cultural and religious background as you takes the relationship to a whole new level. The dinner has also been a wonderful way to set the path for the year in terms of discussing what types of events we would like to see. I appreciate that YJA Board takes the time to understand what the members want to get involved with, where they would like to make a difference, and how they want YJA to be. The dinner sets a great foundation and environment for me and fellow Jains and non-Jains to build long-lasting relationships.” - Pankti Doshi, San Jose, California

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

The Truth of Celebration Celebration. It has been defined as the action of marking one’s pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in an enjoyable, typically social, activity. From the dawn of time, humans have chased after excitement and enjoyment. It is prevalent to celebrate for countless circumstances; but with each occurrence, the interpretation of celebration has been changed. A celebration is now attributed with an unreasonable party. The principal highlight of parties is now often materialistic goods. It is regularly forgotten that the focal point of a gathering, regardless of the kinds of participants, are the extraordinary people that make each event memorable. Celebrations are unmindful of the differing characteristics of the contributors; it does not segregate between different races, genders, ethnicities, or even nationalities. In fact, celebrations initiate the universality of different types of people.

By: Kahan Parekh, 16 On July 4th, America celebrates one of the most influential holidays of all time. Millions of people come together to enjoy this great holiday, the Independence of the United States of America. Instead of prioritizing on being demeaning towards the culture of the other millions of people, many concentrate on the significance of the celebration and the underlying reason for that celebration. People overlook their dislike for other cultures, and they unite as one to nationally enjoy this day. Celebrations aren’t all experienced at such an extensive scale; celebrations can be personal like birthdays and anniversaries. Celebrations are all about the memories that are made. Buddy Valastro once stated, “Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. Its all about the memories.” He was able to capture the genuine meaning for a celebration. It is to make the event special, enjoyable, and memorable. People often focus on the gifts they receive on birthdays, while they could be focusing on the child or baby itself. Each baby, child, teen, or even adult can focus on the people that stand by them on this day to help make each birthday special. Jainism can even be applied to this concept. Jainism clearly declares that everyone has an Atma, commonly referred to as a soul. A birth demonstrates how between each life, nothing remains with us; we should focus on the enjoyable spiritual and memorable events that occur instead of the materialistic presents. Jainism can also be applied to anniversaries, for it helps demonstrate that since we do not know when our time is going to come to an end, we should focus on enjoying each day and each moment with the people around us. Does one day sufficiently depict the gratification that one has for their better half, when each day could be special and wonderful like anniversaries? The highlights of these events are normally to show how appreciative one is of those closest to them, which can be done each and every day. Celebrations can also be similarly understood in this way through western holidays. Thanksgiving is often associated with thankfulness, traditionally including the annual harvest. However, the modern understanding of Thanksgiving includes the pickiness of the types of food that are served and the elegance of the event. Caught up in the details, some may forget that the memories of Thanksgiving are earned through the people, family, and friends that come together to participate in a feast of appreciation. Although celebrations are great ways for people to party, in order to absorb the underlying message of celebrations, it is important to focus on the physical events and the people who form the memories.

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

Fall Events Recap

YJA has been one of the most personally and spiritually fulfilling organizations that I've joined to date. I've gotten involved with various events such as the World Vegan Day and have become connected with my Jain roots on a more practical level as a result. I've also made some lifelong friends thanks to YJA! I'm so glad to have joined YJA and am looking forward to getting more involved with upcoming events. -Ruchita Shah, Tustin, California

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

The Story of Light in Darkness One of the most celebrated holidays in Jainism is Diwali. Jains throughout the world come together to celebrate this joyful festivity. Most people only know Diwali as the Festival of Lights and they don’t know the reasoning behind celebrating it. It has become more of something that we do just for the sake of doing, rather than for honoring the reason behind it. The reason behind celebrating Diwali is an extremely inspirational one. The main reason Jain’s observe Diwali is because it’s the day Mahavir Swami attained Nirvana. Mahavir Swami was the last Tirthanker of this half cycle, so it was a very important day amongst Jains. A lot of people have heard this part of the story, but for me, the most inspirational part of this story is how Gautam Swami attained Keval Gyan. Gautam Swami, Mahavir Swami’s first and chief disciple, was originally a Hindu Brahmin who became so intrigued by Mahavir Swami’s omniscience that he decided to follow the Jain way of life. He devoutly worshipped and respected Mahavir Swami. Essentially, he was extremely attached to Mahavir Swami. His attachment towards Mahavir Swami, however, was the sole thing that was holding him back from attaining Keval Gyan, a state of ultimate knowledge. When Mahavir Swami left upon attaining Nirvana without telling Gautam Swami, he felt very sorrowful, but he also realized his mistake. The second he realized that he was too attached to Mahavir Swami he attained Keval Gyan. And that’s why we celebrate Diwali, both to honor Mahavir Swami’s achievement of attaining liberation and to pay respect to Gautam Swami’s achievement of attaining Keval Gyan. For me, hearing this story sparked a new train of thought. I started wondering how being attached to something as pure and positive as religion could be something that’s holding you back. It’s interesting to think that thing that gives you hope and inspiration is also the thing that’s keeping you from achieving your goals. Because Gautam Swami had so much attachment for Mahavir Swami, he wasn’t able to attain his ultimate goal. It’s not a bad thing to be devoted to your religion and faith, but the moral of that story is that you should always do things with moderation. Don’t be too attached to something, but don’t be completely detached from it. I think that’s an extremely valuable Jain principle, and it is something we could all apply in our lives. We shouldn’t go to two extremes, and instead follow a balanced path with whatever we do. I feel like our generBy: Juhi Nahata, 15 ation can directly relate to situations like that. One very prominent example would be our usage of social media. As a Jain who has attended a couple of the conventions, I can definitely say that I have met some of my closest friends from there. However, we all live pretty far away from each other, and in order to keep in touch we all have some way of communication through social media, whether it be through GroupMe or Facebook or any other apps. The intention behind that is obviously great, as we will be able to maintain relations despite our distances, but sometimes we get too carried away. For example, most of the groups become too much to keep up with and when you leave for an hour, you return to see dozens of notifications. Soon, you start reading all those messages and you don’t even realize when five minutes turns into fifty minutes. We tend to become so attached to all these social medias that we tend to neglect those around us. On a much smaller scale from the example stated above, social media links us to those who are physically distant but emotionally close. (Continued on p.10)

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

The Story of Light in Darkness (Continued) + to become too attached to things, even if I think this is a prime example of how we tend they are meant to benefit us. Gautam Swami was so attached to something as positive as religion, yet it was the thing that was holding him back. Not implying that we shouldn’t be attached at all, we should but with moderation. We should,be able to have a neutral mind-set. This is why I think Diwali is such an important holiday; because the story behind it has a very important moral that we can all apply to our daily lives.

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

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YJA Chicago Fall Flashback This Fall, the Mid-West had a blast while cheering our friends on at the Hot Chocolate Run in Chicago. The Hot Chocolate Run supports a charity called Ronald McDonald Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana. They care for families of children with complex medical needs by providing comfort, compassion and a sense of community. We then headed over to Millennium Park and saw the famous metal Bean and many other works of art. Overall, it was a fun day in the city of Chicago! -Aneri Shah

Two Different Cultures, One Unique Lifestyle As Jains in America, we have learned to assimilate our culture and values into the traditions of the country we're in. We still watch every single Shah Rukh Khan movie, follow cricket religiously, and eat daal-bhath-shaak-rotli as if we're still in India, but now we also anticipate ABC Family Harry Potter weekends, watch Super Bowl Sunday, and enjoy veggie burgers and french fries. In the same way, we have also expanded our "lifestyles" in the holidays that we celebrate. October is filled with meeting friends during Navratri and Diwali parties, but come November and December, many of us also celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families. In India, both Navratri and Diwali are holidays filled with meeting people, eating sweets, and of course, dancing garba. Here, we have kept these traditions alive by partying with local family friends and sangh members, eating sweets from the local Indian stores, and dancing to Falguni Pathak in empty storerooms. But, continuing our original heritage in a new setting has not hindered us from participating in American culture. We hear the story of the first Thanksgiving every year, and some families even take to celebrating with loved ones every November. We follow the same traditions that ‘American’ families follow- we give thanks for all that we have, we consume a feast (without forgetting our vegetarianism, of course), and then sit down to yell at the television as the annual Thanksgiving day football games air. Come December, and once By: Nishi Shah, 17 again we are congregating with our loved ones for Christmas festivities. Although we don’t necessarily engage in the religious components of the holiday, we exchange presents and enjoy listening to holiday music. Christmas trees usually occupy a corner of the house, awaiting the gifts that Santa supposedly brings. While we may not celebrate the same holidays in the same ways as our neighbors due to our origins, we still capture the essence of these holidays and what it is to be American Indians. While dancing in warehouses and eating samosas on Christmas may not be the ideal way to observe these festivals, I wouldn’t want it any other way. That is the way I have grown up; partaking in two cultures at once has become an irrevocable part of who I am.

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

Please Make a Contribution to YJA Today to Pass Jain Principles & Practices onto the Next Generation of Youth! Jai Jinendra! The Executive Board for Young Jains of America (YJA) plans to be very active in bringing Jain principles to youth across the country. We would like to take this opportunity to briefly discuss our current projects and how they will make a difference to the YJA community: ! ! ! ! !

Monthly Webinars – Educate and raise awareness about Jain principles and ideals and address youth problems, difficulties, and concerns. Website Maintenance – Continue to develop a professional website for Jain youth and create a forum to share Jain principles and values. Regional Retreats – Weekend retreats held in each region to instill a sense of religious and cultural pride among Jain youth. Community Volunteering – Organize volunteering events, such as Relay for Life and assistance at soup kitchens to allow youth to participate in charitable community activities. National Dinners – Encourage the development of friendships with Jain youth in their local cities, while conversing about real-life topics relating to Jainism over a delicious meal.

With the support of donors like you, YJA has grown to be the largest Jain youth organization in the world. For the YJA Executive Board, it is an honor to be a part of a group that motivates and inspires countless lives. Please consider supporting our efforts with a personal contribution to YJA today. A contribution of any amount will provide tremendous support to instill a sense of among youth about their Jain heritage. The ultimate goal of the YJA Executive Board is to prepare today's Jain youth to become tomorrow's Jain leaders. Not only do we appreciate your donations, but the fundraising team would like to hear from you! Please e-mail fundraising@yja.org with your comments or suggestions for improvement by YJA. If you have any questions regarding Young Minds, please e-mail youngminds@yja.org. We thank you for your wonderful contribution! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Young Jains of America Contribution Form *You can make a contribution by credit or debit card at https://jaina.site-ym.com/donations/donate.asp?id=3410* Full Name: ___________________________________________________________ Company Name (Optional): ___________________________________________________________ Address: _______________________________ City: ____________ ST: ____ Zip: ___________ Daytime Phone: (______)______________

Evening Phone: (______)_____________________

Email Address: __________________________ Please make your check payable to JAINA, include ‘Young Jains of America’ in the memo line, and mail it to:! Young Jains of America c/o Akash Shah 906 Torrance Blvd #11 Redondo Beach, CA 90277

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

Stay Connected with YJA!

https://www.facebook.com/YoungJains https://www.twitter.com/YJAtweets http://instagram.com/youngjainsofamerica info@yja.org

Young Jains of America Est. 1991