JAINISM IN KERALA - ERNAKULAM


SHRI SWETAMBER MURTIPUJAK JAIN SANGH, ERNAKULAM

ERNAKULAM, which is situated about 10 kms from Mattancherry, was a very laid back business center compared to Mattancherry which was the business hub of Kochi, till about the year 1970. But it still attracted the business minded Jain community with some families migrating here from Kutch in Gujarat as way back as 1932.

Even though their numbers were minimal compared to the Jain families settled in Mattancherry and who had a fine temple established there, the Jain's in Ernakulam always felt the need to have their own temple. With this objective in mind they established the Jain Sangh in the year 1988, which included families from the Shwetambar Murktipujak, Digambar Sthanakvasi and Terapanthi. Meetings were a regular feature with a sole agenda of initiating the construction of a Jain Temple within Ernakulam.

Finally in the year 1990, when Shri Jaytilak Vijayji Maharaj Saheb, who was on his way to Erode after visiting Mattancherry, agreed on to stay for a few days in Ernakulam. The Jain Sangh decided to seek his holiness blessings for a Jain temple in Ernakulam, and according to his holiness suggestions it was choosen to install the 12th Tirthankara of Jain's Sri Vasupujja Swami as the 'Mulnayak' (the presiding deity of the temple), and the idol be made of Panchdhatu (made of 5 different metals). It was also decided that the 'Anjan shalakha' (Description) of the idol be performed at Erode during the "Prathistha Mahotsav".

A building was rented for the temple and on 27th January 1991, the idol of Prabhu Sri Vasupujja Swami was brought from Erode and it was taken in a grand procession and installed in a Ghar Derasar on T.D.Road, fulfilling a long cherished dream of the Ernakulam Sangh, which by this time had about 40 families from Gujarat and Rajasthan residing in the city.

By July the same year a newly built house was purchased on Srinivas Mallan Road in Ernakulam and the 'Ghar Derasar' was shifted from the rented building to the new one, which had provision for the transit stay of Maharaj. Sahib's and Sadhviji's began to come to Ernakulam 'Ghar Derasar' and it became difficult to accommodate them all in the Ghar Derasar. Finally the year 1993 with due inspiration and blessings from Acharya Bhagwant Shri Nayprabha Surishvanji Maharaj, a new building was purchased and it was named 'Aradhana Bhavan' and it was utilised for the stay of Maharaj.Saheb and Sadhviji's.

Muni Shri Abhaysen Vijayhi Maharaj, two sadhu's and 6 sadhviji, thana (disciples) eight, was the first muni to conduct his 'Chatumaas' in Ernakulam, Jain Derasar in the year 1996. During his stay, Mahapoojans were arranged for 15 days that were attended by a large number of people. He encouraged the people to observe 'Maskshaman' (a 1 month fast), 15 days fast, and also the 'Athai' (8 days fast) Ever since 'Ambilodi' is conducted according to the Gujarathi calendar in the months of Aaso and Chaitra. During this function Shravak's are invited to conduct 'Paryushan'.

Now there are around 80 families with a combined strength of around 350 member's residing in Ernakulam under the Sangh and it is their heart felt desire to have a 'Shikhar Bandh' Derasar in Ernakulam. Discussions are going on with the Sri Raveshekhar Vijayji Maharaj of Salem and hopefully with his blessings the Sangh may be able to conduct a 'Bhoomi poojan' for the same before the end of the year 2004.