The first wave of Jain immigrants from India to New York, USA occurred in the mid 1960s. In order to preserve and maintain their religious and cultural heritage, these early migrants started to meet informally in 1965 in the borough of Manhattan in various facilities, such as Columbia University, the Indian Consulate, Jain Meditation Center and other Secular Halls. From these initial stages, the Jain Center of America - New York (JCA) was the first Jain Center organized and registered in America in 1976. In its early formative years, the members of the JCA NY Center had an organization, but no place to worship and practice their Jain religion. In 1981, the center purchased its first temple building in the
borough of Queens, New York. In June 2005, the JCA NY celebrated its Pratishta Mahotsav in the newly constructed state-of-the- art temple at 43-11 Ithaca St, Elmhurst, Queens, NY, replacing the original temple building acquired in 1981. The unique design of this complex is a shining example of Unity with Diversity for the Jain Community of New York. The JCA NY Center was awarded the very prestigious “Best Religious Building” award for 2005 in Queens, NY, a borough known as the “Mosaic Melting Pot of America”.
The JCA NY Temple complex is a 16,625 Sq. Ft. facility, with four stories and a cellar. The total height of the temple is 66’ 5” with the Kalash. The Shikhar at the height of the building is 24’ 1” and the Kalash is 2’ 9”. The temple can accommodate over 500 people at one time. It has two separate stairways and one elevator for easy access to all the floors of the temple. There is a 4,000 Sq. Ft. of Parking Space with plans to purchase additional space for parking and a community hall in the rear of the complex. The most distinctive and unique feature of the JCA NY Temple complex is the manner in which it has managed to Unite the Diverse Traditions of the Jain faith under one
building, with each tradition having their own worshipping space, to preserve their Unique Tradition and Identity, in order to foster greater Harmony and Unity among all its members.
The Cellar of the temple complex is 2,350 Sq. Ft. and consists of a multipurpose hall, youth center, computer area, mini theatre, children’s room and an art gallery that exhibits works on a rotational basis. It is often used for small meetings & conferences. The First Floor is 2,350 Sq. Ft. and comprises a front & back vestibule for entry, two coat & shoe rooms, rest rooms, a welcome and reception center, a small office with security, computer, TV video, public address system, and a senior center seating area with information and bulletin boards for its members.
The Second Floor of the building is 4,000 Sq. Ft. and consists of the Shri Mahavir Swami Temple in the Shwetambar tradition and a large Upashraya/Sthanak in the Sthanakvasi tradition. The Shri Mahavir Swami Temple has a Main Garbha Griha with Ghummat, Kalash & Dhwaja. The Mulnayak Pratimaji, Shri Mahavir Swami , is 21”, with a 25” Shri Neminathji on the right and a 25” Shri Sambhavnathji on the left side, all of white marble. In the back Gabhara, inside the Gokhalas, on the rear right side, is the 31” Pratimaji of Shri Parshwanathji in black marble and on the rear left side is the 31” Panch Dhatu Pratimaji of Shri Shantinathji. The Bhamati Parikrama is graced by an 81” Jaisalmer light brown Shri Adinathji Choumukhi. The east and west walls are graced by the idols of Shri Simandhar Swami, Shri Gautam Swami and eight other idols of Dev and Devi all made of white marble. The Upashraya/Sthanak, on the second floor, has space for about 200 people and provisions for audio-visual facilities and opens up via a folding partition to the Mahavir Swami Temple. The Upashraya is having a Navkar Mantra placed on the East Wall (Navkar Niche). The size of the Navkar Mantra is 4’x6’ and carved in crystal stone with colored gem stone inlay in the original color of each line of the mantra. There are many beautiful carved marble columns and arches as well as exquisite marble Pat and paintings on the walls of the temple, as well as chandan & shower rooms.
The Third Floor of the building is 3,800 Sq. Ft. and consists of the Sri Adinath Temple in the Digambar tradition, Shrimad Rajchandra Meditation Hall, and a Library. The Shri Adinath Temple has a Main Garbha Griha with Three Shikhars, Kalash & Dhwaja. The Mulnayak Pratimaji is 31” Shri Adinath Swami, with a 25” Shri Padma Prabhuji on the right and a 25” Shri Chandra Prabhuji on the left side, all of white marble. Inside the Gokhalas, on the right side, is the standing 51” Pratimaji of Shri Parshwanathji in black marble and on the left side is the standing 51” Pratimaji of Shri Bahubaliji of pink marble. Two Gokhalas contain smaller Pratimas of Shri Mahavir Swami in white marble and a Panch Dhatu Pratimaji of Shri Shantinath Swami. The other Gokhalas contain Jinvani Books, and picture of Acharyas. All five Pratimaji’s were consecrated in a Panch Kalyanak Puja at Agra, India in Feburary 2004. There are many beautiful carved marble columns and arches as well as numerous exquisite marble Pat and paintings on the walls of the temple. The Shrimad Rajchandra Meditation Hall has facilities for Samyak, Pratikraman, Bhakti & Sadhana. Inside a 60” x 30” marble structure is a Chitrapat of Shrimad Rajchandra along with a 7” Charan (Paduka), an “Aum” and an Idol of Mahavir Swami at the top. It has a folding partition with the Library, which contains an expanding collection of books and Shastras on Jainism, and a fully equipped JCA
Manager and Administrative Office. Weekly Pathshala classes are held in the Library. There is also a Scholar’s Room for visiting Sadhu, Sadhvi and Scholars.
The Fourth Floor of the building is 3,800 Sq. Ft. and consists of the Dadawadi Temple, The Asthapad Maha Tirth and the Dining Hall. The Dadawadi Temple contains a 15” Pratima of Shri Jin Kushal Suri Ji Maharaj and a 7” Charan installed in a white marble shrine open on all four sides under a canopy of skylight. In front of the Dadawadi Temple is a Roof Garden and the main Shikhar. The Asthapad Maha Tirth is located on the rear of the Dadawadi Temple, enclosed behind high security glass panels. The mountain is made of natural Crystal Stone and all the 24 Idols are carved out of Precious & Semiprecious Gemstones, cut in Jaipur, India. The Asthapad Maha Tirth weighs over ten tons. The Tirth is placed inside the conservatory under glass panels fully exposed to the sky. The consecration ceremony of the Tirth took place in June 2008. The Asthapad Maha Tirth has added to the uniqueness of the JCA NY Temple Complex. The Fourth Floor also contains a spacious Dining Hall & a fully equipped Kitchen with modern cooking facilities that can accommodate over 150 people at a time. Daily, and especially on weekends, visitors can participate in the activities and rituals of one or all Jain traditions and discover the extent to which the basic precepts of all our traditions are alike and finish of by enjoying Samoohik Swamivatsalya. Youngsters can come and attend Pathshala Classes that take place in the Temple on a weekly schedule.
Since the inauguration of this complex in June 2005, there has been an increasing level of participation of our younger generation, both youth and professional, in ritual, educational and cultural activities. The JCA complex is fast becoming an example for Jains throughout the world as a model of Jain Unity within the Diversity of our Traditions, following the central Jain principle of Anekantvad.