With lockdown measures in place all around the country meaning that people cannot gather in social groups, communities are finding innovative ways to keep spirits up and encourage social interaction via online platforms. The Jain community in north-west London have come together in daily prayers that aim to see the world through this difficult time.
Around 250 families from the Mahavir Foundation (MF) group and many more around the world are coming together everyday to pray. The prayers are led by Dr Saurabh M Shah, who is an active member of MF, on a YouTube live stream. Dr Shah, who leads the religious school for young children, sends out a message which contains the prayer and also some background information on the particular scripture, this way giving knowledge as well as spiritual guidance.
He said that Jains have been taught to perform good deeds and pray together and that the idea of this communal prayer came from what he himself had learned. “My spiritual teacher taught me a theory called PUSH theory,” he stated. “Pray until something happens. Praying together creates a positive energy around the body and soul and hence negative vibrations will not enter and disturb us.”
This idea, combined with the teachings of Jain deities, brought about concept of group prayers. The religious name given to this by Jains is ‘Samuhik Aaradhna’ which translates to ‘praying together.’ “[We] are praying everyday together at the same time and only for one goal: world peace until we see the end of Covid 19.”
Alongside these prayers, which will continue everyday to keep the community spirit up, MF have also run themed online bingo games which have a special twist. Each number corresponds to something relating to the theme, which is a particular aspect of Jainism. The games are especially popular with children, who can learn about their religion in a fun, light setting, but are open to everyone, ensuring that as many people as possible come together in this time when they must physically remain apart.
In this turbulent time, it is especially important to keep the community together and make sure that we reach out to those who may need our help. The Jain community is joined by several other religious communities in doing their little part in keeping us connected from the comfort of our homes.
By Aashi Shah