In today’s fast-paced American society, Indian children often lose touch with their glorious heritage. They simply miss out on the illustrious culture of India simply because they don’t have any exposure to it. But in a month-long celebration in New Jersey, from March 9th to April 9th, children and youths celebrated the birth of the founder of the major Hindu faith - the Swaminarayan faith, Shree Sahajanand Swami. They participated in various programs giving them a broader understanding of Hindu heritage and Indian culture.
For four weeks the Children and youth did special reading of scriptures, viewed religious videos and listened to devotional audios. It was a period to reflect upon our heritage and keeping connected with the heritage. As per guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s guidance, it was emphasized that the family sits together every day to read and discuss various lessons of the heritage. This was joyfully experienced by many families resulting in the strong family bondage.
Indian classical music, especially the devotional music, has a long and celebrated history. Balaks and kishores spent every weekend during the month of Shree Hari Parva singing devotional songs towards God and playing the tabla, harmonium, and dholak. Their dedication could be seen through the hours upon hours of practice they put into these devotional songs. At the end of the month, on April 9th, they utilized all their practice in the celebration of the births of Lord Rama and Sahajanand Swami.
The birth of the Lord was marked as an event of great fanfare. So every weekend the children and youth practiced traditional Indian dances, decorated the rooms with streamers, beautiful ornaments, and ornate lights. Banners and posters were adorned in the sabha rooms. On the main festival day, dressed in traditional Indian costumes, the balaks and kishores stunned the audience at the Samaiyo with their exhilarating and graceful dancing.
Each week of the Shree Hari Parva had a theme. The Swaminarayan Mahamantra was the theme during the week of Sunday, March 26th. A tree with the Swaminarayan mantra written on its leaves was set in the men’s dining hall, where people enjoyed its view while eating. The Balika and Kishori mandals, to commemorate the bicentennial celebrations of the Swaminarayan mantra next year, created a spectacular exhibition on it. The exhibition portrayed the importance and various practice of mantra. It vividly presented how the mantra helps in our daily life.
The project for the building of the Museum of Indian Heritage was kicked off during the week of Sunday, April 2nd. It was marked by elaborate decorations made mostly by boys and girls. In the mandir’s foyer, a fountain leading to a model of the Akshardham monument in Ghandinagar, India was placed. The stage was laden with decorations of a replica of the Akshardham monument.