More than 3,000 people from all parts of the United States and India gathered over the weekend at the 16th Annual Jaina 2011 Convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center. They met to network and take part in religious, business, and health care activities. Also high on the list: find a Soulmate with a common background.
One of the oldest religious sects of India, Jainism has existed side by side with Hinduism throughout its long history. With more than 750 Jain families in Houston, the convention demonstrated its remarkable tenacity and endurance and made an attempt to exert an influence far beyond its small numbers.
"One of the main purposes of the convention is to provide a platform for young Jains and try to connect them with suitable prospects for marriage."
It was the first time the convention was held in Houston.
"Our biennial convention has a long and proud history of bringing Jains together for networking with religious leaders, academic scholars and researchers," said Houston-based entrepreneur Swatanra Jain, fundraising committee member of the Jain Convention. "One of the main purposes of the convention is to provide a platform for young Jains and try to connect them with suitable prospects for marriage."
With the theme, "Live and Help Live," the convention kicked off on Friday at the Hilton Americas-Houston with "Swagatam," a welcome program by the Jain Society of Houston that included a talent competition, Garba and Bhangra dances and Bollywood performances. Early morning weekend sessions included a strict Jain breakfast with yoga, meditation and Zumba and Bollywood-inspired exercises.
A spectacular temple-like structure was created inside of the convention center where the visitors witnessed a grand temple procession of dignitaries, Jaina presidents and spiritual leaders from the Jain center.
The age group of those participating in the convention ranged from early teens to the late 70s. More than 300 young Jains took part in a vibrant program organized by Jain Networking Forum coordinator Arpan Shah and Dr.Vijay Mehta that encouraged them to seek out their life partner amid other Jain singles. Sona Sanghvi, 24, who participated in the forum, said that several activities were designed for Jain singles who are looking to meet others for friendship and marriage.
"Vijay Uncle made the sessions very interesting with icebreakers, along with lectures on what they should do when looking for a partner, with topics that ranged from relationship discussions, career development, and ways to apply Jainism in our modern society," Sanghvi said.
While there are no statistics to show who clicked with who at the convention when it ended on Monday, Sanghvi said that the convention was a great way of making new connections, providing a variety of dating options within the Jain community.
Ruchi Mukherjee is a lifestyle feature journalist for TV Asia and host of online magazine Lights Camera Action that covers Houston Indo-American society news.