Paraswanath Temple – Digambar
Built in 1914, the Shree Digambar Jain Pareswanath Temple of Kolkata is a very sacred place of worship for the Digambara Jain community. Digambara is one of the two main sects of Jainism – the other branch is Svetambara. This glorious red temple with its bright red entrance greet the pilgrims to the temple premise, which has four sprawling gardens surrounded by trees, hedges and flowering plants for the visitors to take rest and feel the oneness with nature. The pilgrims can also feed the hundreds of fish in the fish tank. There are some symbolic installations like a cow and tiger feeding from the same waterhole and some fountains within the temple premise too. The other attraction is the Stambha or tower made of white marble beside the sparkling red temple. Religious inscriptions preaching non-violence and other aspects of Jainism can be found throughout the Stambha. Other buildings include the monks’ quarters, temple office building (a part of which would be soon used to house a library) and a community area where religious programs are held.
Location of Shree Digambar Jain Paresnath Mandir in Kolkata
Shree Digambar Jain Parasnath Mandir is located at Belgachia in Northern part of Kolkata, West Bengal.
History & Description of Shree Digambar Jain Parasnath Mandir in Kolkata
The Digambara monks believe in complete abstinence from all material desires of the world. According to them, material possessions increases dependency and desire and ultimately lead to sorrow. Therefore, to attain Moksha or liberation they do not even attach importance to basic clothing of the body. Such is their philosophy about life. However, the monastic practice is strictly for the males only. The female monks or sadhvis known as Aryikas are exempted from this practice. They are allowed to wear simple white seamless clothing.
The Shree Digambar Jain Baghwan Paraswanath Temple is over a century old. It is located amidst a beautiful garden of flowers and trees. The temple was once renovated by Mr. Brown, the famous architect of the Victoria Memorial in the year 1914. The temple is built in the artistic Nagara style with ornamental pillars and beautiful sculptures inspired from the architecture of ancient Jain temples and caves. The temple is adjacent to a placid reservoir tank filled with clear water that reflects the somber serenity and purity of the structure. The sanctum nests the main idol which is of Tirthankar Paraswanath – the 23rd Jain Tirthankar (877-777 B.C.). It was installed in the year 1914. A unique 81 feet high Mana Stambha (Pillar) made of pure white marble was installed recently. A Jain Museum of art, architecture and culture is also coming up soon that will open up in the spacious hall of the Mana Sthambha.
- Lord Parswanath Sobha Yatra on Kartik Purnima is an eventful sacred festival of the Jains. It is celebrated on the holy day of Kartik Purnima every year and is attended by thousands of Jain devotees from all over India. This tradition of Shobha Yatra began 190 years ago and is still continued with great reverence. The Shobha Yatra starts from Bara Mandir and ends at Parswanath Digambar Jain Mandir at Belgachia. This Yatra is organised every year by Shri Digambar Jain Rath Yathra Committee under Shri Digambar Jain Mandir Kolkata. The colorful procession is led by a chariot holding the resplendent image of Bhagavan Parswanath followed by thousands of devotees accompanied by bhajan mandalis and bands. The grand procession is led along the main roads of the city which enables several devotees to have a glimpse of the holy Bhagwan and seek his blessings.
- Jains have the highest degree of literacy for a religious community in India, and their manuscript libraries are the oldest in the country.
- Jainism is a religious minority in India, with 4.2 million followers.