The Institute of Jainology (IOJ), an international institute representing over 32 UK-based organisations, took its message of ahimsa or non-violence virtual this year in keeping with the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
It recently marked its annual Ahimsa Day, created to spread awareness about the concept of non-violence, which is a core belief in Jainism. Dr Mehool Sanghrajka, Managing Trustee of the Institute, said it was strongly felt that the annual event held in honour of the birth anniversary of the world-renowned apostle of non-violence must go ahead.
He said: “Ahimsa is the key Jain tenet of non-violence/compassion and the event is usually celebrated at the Palace of Westminster, however with we have had to hold it online for the first time.
“We consider it an opportunity to broadcast the event to a global audience."
Kenya-based teacher Peter Tabichi, who was awarded the $1-million Global Teacher Prize last year, was conferred the 2020 Ahimsa Award by the IOJ Trustees.
Dr Mehool Sanghrajka said: “He personifies peace, love and compassion in his work with both his students and his community, and truly represents the message of Ahimsa. We look forward to seeing his ongoing success as well as being a beacon for teachers and community leaders everywhere.”
Tabichi is a maths and physics teacher from Pwani village in the poverty-stricken and frequently drought-hit region of Nakuru in Kenya’s Rift Valley. He was chosen for this year’s honour for his work in dramatically improving attendance at his school, reducing levels of local violence and even teaching local communities how to grow crops that can resist famine.
“That Jainology is all about non-violence and compassion, is very dear to my heart as a religious man,” said Tabichi.
The Jain All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) promotes the principles of Jainism and the 18th meeting last month took note of the Jain community's perseverance and unity during these unprecedented times.
Deputy Chair Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East in London, reflected on the work of the Jain community to support the , key workers, and the elderly in Harrow. He also hailed the community spirit of coming together to celebrate religious events online and added that whilst we may not be able to meet physically, we can come together to celebrate and support one another during these trying times.
The virtual event also marked the relaunch of – making the Jain collections in major UK institutions more accessible to the public. In celebration of the relaunch, Professor Padmanabh Jaini, an eminent Jain scholar and author, sent greetings from his home in California and spoke of the new digital aspects of the website and the importance of Jainpedia.org in providing knowledge to those who want to learn more about Jainism.
Professor Nalini Balbir, who has been key to the successful development of the site also sent greetings from her home in Paris.
“We are working with all the 32 UK Jain communities on the basis of ‘stronger together’. We plan to share all the online content from each organisation so that those stuck at home in lockdown have access to multiple events and can participate fully in the celebrations and be part of the community even at this difficult time,” added Dr Mehool Sanghrajka.