The Jains who live in Southern California will soon be able to worship at a new $20 million center. Fourteen years ago, the Jain Center of Southern California (JCSC) began conceptualizing a multifaceted temple, and that concept is now a Buena Park complex opening in late September.
The JCSC was established in 1979 by 30 families and now caters to more than 1,400 families. Jainism is one of the most ancient religions in India, and teaches compassion. There are approximately 4.2 million Jains in India, and an estimated 100,000 in the U.S.
The long-awaited Jain Bhavan Complex “is a pilgrimage for Jains around the world and an attraction for non-Jains alike,” says Nilesh Shah, JCSC public relations chairman. The temple will be the largest of its kind outside India at 13,000 square feet, and the center—with  auditorium, cultural complex, library, and a hall for seminars and classrooms—will stand at 62,000 square feet. The library will feature over 15,000 books, manuscripts, and multimedia resources.
Since Jain architecture is so specific, the temple’s tiles, the pillars, tapestry, statues, artwork, and exterior façade are being imported from  India. “Every week a different container shows up,” says Shah, referring to the seemingly endless import of artifacts. To raise the multimillions necessary for this construction, the JCSC relied on donations from the community, holding fundraisers and events “ad nauseum.” “The community is enthusiastic, very proud, and contributing wholeheartedly,” says Shah.
An interesting feature that will be displayed in the temple’s foyer is a 104-year-old wooden replica of the temple in Palitana, Gujurat, India, which was commissioned by the British government and first displayed at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair. The antique resided in the courtyard of the Castaways Casino in Las Vegas before it was donated to the JCSC.
On Sept. 26, the center’s Derasar and Aradhana halls will be inaugurated, kicking off an 11-day celebration. The event will include pujas, a parade, cultural events, religious discussions with scholars, and bhavna bhakti. An estimated 5,000 people are expected to attend.
Jain Center of Southern California, 8032 Commonwealth Ave., Buena Park. (714) 523-5246.