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Jainism is a religion that has traditionally been confined to the Indian sub-continent and parts of the middle east. However, with immigration policies being liberalised along with increasing multiculturalism in western countries, local Jain populations are rising (especially in Northern America).

In Europe, Jain populations are centered in England with a population of about 25,000 (as of 1992)[1] In the United States and Canada populations stand at around 100,000 (as of 2007)[2]

The Jains living outside of India belong to various traditions, Digambara, Shvetambara, Terapanthi, Sthanakvasi, Shrimad Rajchandra are all represented. [3]. In many cases, they gather and worship together in spite of sectarian differences.

The Jains in Belgium are estimated to be around about 1500 people. The majority live in Antwerp, working in the wholesale diamond business. They are building a major temple in Wilrijk (near Antwerp), with a cultural centre[4].

Jainism in European Chronology

  • 1873: Hermann Jacobi encounters Jain texts in London. He later visited India to further study and translate some of them.
  • 1892: Champat Rai Jain (C.R. Jain) in England during 1892-1897, to study law. He established a Jain library. Later he translated several Jain texts into English[5].
  • 1906-1910: Jugmandar Lal Jaini (J.L. Jaini) at Oxford as a law student.
  • 1909: J. L. Jaini created the Jain Literature Society in London together with F. W. Thomas and H. Warren[6].
  • 1930: the Rishabh Jain Lending Library was established by C. R. Jain.
  • 1949: The World Jaina Mission, founded in London, by M. McKay, W. H. Talbot, F. Mansell, and Mrs. K. P. Jain.
  • 1971: Idi Amin expelled Indians from Uganda. Jains from Eastern Africa started migrating to UK.
  • 1973: Jain Samaj Leicester was formed[7].
  • 1979: An Old church building in Oxford Street, in heart of Leicester was bought and named the Jain Centre.
  • 1980: The Jain Samaj was expanded as a European body.
  • 1980: First Digamber Temple outside India established in Kenya[8].
  • 1982: Jain Samaj opened an office in London, The All India (Overseas) Jinalaya Samiti, was created to complete the temple according to the plans drawn by the architects from Leicester, Bombay and Ahmedabad.
  • 1983: On 10 November, Shilanyas ceremony the laying of the foundation stones for the first fully consecrated Jain Temple in the western world, was performed.
  • 1985 : On 25 August, the above images were placed in the Jain Centre, Leicester.
  • 1988 : On 8 July, images were entered in Garbagriha (permanent place of adobe) and the Pratistha Mahatosova was celebrated for 16 days starting from 8 July 1988 to 23 July 1988.

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References

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