The Consulate General of India, NY and International Ahimsa Foundation Inc. in partnership with JITO USA (Jain International Trade Org – USA), and JAINA (Federation of Jain Associations in NA), hosted Mahavir Jayanti, Lord Mahavir’s 2621st birth anniversary Celebration on May 20, 2023, at the Ballroom of the Consulate General of India in NY. The event also celebrated India’s yearlong initiative Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. The program was attended by about 200 people
Several dignitaries and community leaders graced the event. Deputy Consul General of India Dr. Varun Jeph, who was keynote speaker said, “Let’s bring more of Lord Mahavir’s message of Ahimsa & Satya in our lives.”
Congressman Gregory W. Meeks sent his best wishes via video message. He said that “This year’s occasion will bring together the community to honor Lord Mahavir’s principles of non-violence and peace.”
Former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney also emphasized the importance of “live and let live” in today’s time, a teaching of Lord Mahavir.
NYS Assemblyman David Weprin was represented by his Chief of Staff David Sprea and was also joined by Miosotis Munoz, Deputy Commissioner of External affairs, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs. She also mentioned that Mayor Adams truly believes in non-violence. Democratic District Leader Gurdip Singh Narula also attended the event.
Other esteemed guest speakers included Samniji Nirdeshika Kamal Pragya and Samniji Karuna Pragya. Their profound insights and teachings on non-violence were truly inspirational.
Dr. Neeta Jain, Founder and President of International Ahimsa Foundation Inc. dwelt on Lord Mahavir during the program entitled, “Non-Violence – A Message of Lord Mahavir” on his 2,621st birth anniversary. She stressed on teaching children the five Jain principles to make the world a better place. She further mentioned that Lord Mahavir is the one who told the world that “Non-violence is the Supreme Religion and it’s more relevant in today’s world than ever. We should pass his teachings to our next generation so they can learn how to adopt the virtues of nonviolence in their lives and make this world a better place to live in peace and harmony.”
On this occasion the organization honored four distinguished individuals with the “Ahimsa Award” for their extraordinary contributions to society which included Dr. Ashok Shaha MD (Chair Head and Neck Surgery/Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Arvind Vora (Chair, JAINA Interfaith Committee & Shanti Fund of Long Island), Sweta Jain (Founder & President, Goshwara, Luxury Designer Jewelry) and Kavita Bafana (Cofounder, Little Ustaads Music & Namaste Book Series), for their remarkable contributions and achievements. Their presence inspired many youngsters who attended the event.
“Ahimsa Awards” and a NYS Assembly Proclamation were presented to honorees by Deputy Consul General, Dr. Varun Jepj, Board of Director IAF, Dr. Ravi Goyal, President and Founder, Dr. Neeta Jain, Vice President, Amarjyoti Jain and Chair Advisory Board, Rajeev Pandya.
“All four honorees are purveyors of peace and align with our mission to spread Lord Mahavir’s message of ‘Live and Let Live,’” Dr. Jain said. Dr. Ashok Shaha said in his acceptance speech that “Forgiveness is the most important virtue in life.”
Vora, another honoree expressed his views after the event as “one can’t expect better way to celebrate Mahaveera Jayanti than the confluence of dignified location of Indian Consulate, partner organizations like JITO & JAINA, stage decorations including Gandhi on a spinning wheel, participation by youths in dance and skit conveying messages of Mahavir and diverse audiences. Everything was wrapped up very efficiently.”
Jain also emphasized in her speech the importance of “practicing Ahimsa in today’s time is even more essential in order to promote peace and harmony in society and that is exactly what The International Ahimsa Foundation is striving to achieve for over a decade. And I feel extremely blessed to be honored by it at the Indian Consulate on the auspicious occasion of MahavirJayanti along with JITO and JAINA.”
Kavita Bafana expressed her views on how important is it to keep our culture alive, she said, “It’s one small trip to the mandir or a simple conversation, or as you saw today a small dance, that will keep out culture alive and our Jain principals ever present through the next generation.”