At the 20th biennial JAINA Convention in Ontario, Calif., over the Independence Day weekend, nearly 3,500 Jains, followers of an ancient Indian sect, were treated to highly sought-after speakers such as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a yogi with 1.6 million followers on Instagram, and Gaur Gopal Das, a motivational speaker who has more than 2 million subscribers on YouTube.
But the real stars of the show, in a sense, were young Jains such as Pooja and Poonam Shah, 36 and 28 respectively.
The theme for the convention was “Jain Religion in the 21st Century,” and nearly everyone in attendance seemed to be aware that the next eight decades depend on handing the faith over to the millennial and Gen Z Jains.
In addition to breakout sessions geared specifically for their age group, the convention provided various ways for younger Jains to meet, including both Young Jains of Americaand Jain Connect, a new program to help young Jains “make new friends, new business connections or find a special someone.” An allied organization, Young Jain Professionals, met simultaneously at the convention center.
A newsletter specifically for young Jains, with articles about college and cooking, aims to keep the relationship going now that the convention is over.