Singapore Jain Religious Society

 

 

No. 18, Jalan Yasin Of Jalan Eunos, Singapore 1441


The jains have settled in Singapore since the beginning of this century. There is no historical data available on the exact date, or if there was any settlement here during the last century. During the initial period, they used to conduct their religiours functions on individual basis.

After World War II, it got organised and most jain activities were carried out at 79, Waterloo Street.Till 1953, there was free inflow of jains to join their families here, as there were no immigration restrictions. Influenced by democratic ideas from India, jains felt the need to organise themselves further and the first committee of five, called Panch was elected in 1957. Subsequently, every year, a new committee is elected to conduct jain festivities and other religious functions.

After government's acquisition in 1965, of the Waterloo Street premises, the committee carried on these functions in various rented premises. Soon, they felt the urgent need to have their own premises and for this purpose, they needed to organise themselves and register a society according to local law. They collected a good amount and purchased the land at 18, jalan Yasin, measuring about 1000 sq. metres.

Singapore Jain Religious Society was formed and registered as religious society in 1972. Jains collected more funds and the building was constructed and opened in 1978. It is a two storey building. Upstairs Hall is for religious functions with office ad library room. Lower area consists of an open hall, built up kitchen, store, parking lots and open spaces.

According to the society's constitution, any jain, whether Sthanakvasi, Deravasi, Terapanthi, Digambar, Oswal or Porwad speaking any language, regardless of creed could become a member. All carry on Jain religioous activities, keeping to fundamental principles of jainism . The society maintains its objective of Jain unity in Singapore. Even the Agams say that religious activities could be changed according to time, place or sentiments and the society keeps this progressive attitude in fulfilling the need but maintains fundamental Jain principles.

In 1978, a trainee monk, Smitaben was invited here. Her arrival and daily discourses increased the religious fervour and encouraged more religious activities. This is continuing at present and Tapasyas of two, three, six, eight days to a month long have become common every year. Even Varsitaps are performed here. Similarly, monetary donations to charities in India have increased year after year. Smitaben helped the community to understand the principles, guiding real Jainism .Under her august presence, the building was officially opened and named jain Sthanak.

In later years, other jain saints like Puj. Chitrabhanu, Puj. Sushil Muni and other Mahasatijis graced Singapore and gave discourses, Jainism is part and parcel of great Indian tradition and culture and as such, other dignatories like Puj. Murari Bapu, Mahamandeshwarji, Shri Ramesh Oza, Dr. Soneji (now Puj. Atmanandji), Dr. Goenkaji also graced our Sthanak and gave discourses. Jain as well as other Gujaratis took part in all these discourses.

At present, there are about 500 jains in Singapore, out of the Indian population of about 170,000. About 95% of the Jains are from Gujarat, balance from Marwad and Punjab. The society is running Jainshala every Sunday. Children are picked up from their homes by a chartered bus. Though they do not have proficiency in Gujarati, some children now have knowledge of Samayak and Pratikraman. The library has religious as well as cultural books in Gujarati, Hindi and English. During ayambil oil, a kitchen is arranged to cater for the ayambil lunch. During Paryushan, daily Pratikraman and other religious activities are carried on…..Ladies have their satsang every week. The Sthanak premises is also used for marriages and other social activities by the members.

Every year at the Annual General Meeting, members elect a management committee to conduct and manage society's affairs. Committee members and a group of volunteers helped out to carry on all the functions organised by the society. A Board of Trustee looks after the premises. At present, Sangh has 79 life members and44 ordinary members, which brings the total to 173 members. Any person can be a member irrespective of sex, creed or sectional differences. Even a person can be a member with out payment of membership fees if he so desires. This is a unique example of society becoming representative of all Jains in Singapore. Singapore Jain Religious Society is completing its eighteenth year. It is young society, just like Singapore, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The members have kept peace with the nation's growth and can take pride that it has amalgamated well with the other communities.

 

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Source : Journal of Asian Jain Conference ( March 1990)
Organised By Singapore Jain Religious Society

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Mail to : Ahimsa Foundation
www.jainsamaj.org
R29602