On the evening of July 4th a group of about 25 people from AIG made their way to the Jain Temple in Longsight, Manchester, to learn about the Jain religion and to see the Temple. We were warmly greeted by Suresh Mehta, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and taken to a meeting room where some aspects of the religion were discussed.
It is one of the oldest religions in the world and is characterised by Ahimsa or non-violence, which relates to not only physical violence but to hateful speech and to being vegetarian, not eating meat , fish or eggs. Jains avoids eating root and underground vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, beetroots, garlic and ginger to prevent injuring small insects and microorganisms, and also to prevent the entire plant getting uprooted and killed.
We were taken to see the Temple itself which was made of white marble and very beautiful and invited to ring the bell, which many of our members did. There were statues of three Jinas, revered teachers who explained the Jain religion over various periods of antiquity – Bhagwan (Lord) Parshvanath, Bhagwan (Lord) Mahavir and Bhagwan (Lord) Shantinath; there are 24 Jinas altogether and they were represented on a wall hanging adjoining the temple.
There was then more explanation by Suresh Mehta and Mina Desai, a committee member of AIG who is also a Jain, and the importance of the life of Ghandi was stressed and his teacher Shrimad Rajchandra, a revered Jain whose photo was on the wall of the meeting room. We were also told that some beliefs are shared with the Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions, including Reincarnation and The Theory of Karma. There were several questions before we were offered drinks and biscuits, and we thank Suresh and Mina for their kind hospitality and giving us the opportunity of seeing this sacred place.
Carolyn Jones (Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)