Through the inspiration of HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, In an effort to understand and inculcate the concept of "samarpan", bal and balika sanchalaks and sanchalikas from across North America gathered in Houston, TX for a 3 day convention beginning June 26th, 2003. Theme of the convention was "Samarpan: The Power of One". Upon arrival, sanchalaks and sanchalikas were registered by volunteers. Workbooks for each of the workshops and classrooms had been prepared to serve as mandal guides for karyakars to use throughout the shibir and were given to the delegates upon registration.
As per Dr. Swami's wishes and Yogiji Maharaj's ruchi, all karyakars performed mukhpãth as a part of their registration activities. This year's mukhpãth was organized to prepare karyakars with the knowledge to do an entire sabha without any preparation in case the situation ever occurs. Furthermore, the mukhpãth reinforced the theme of the convention. Mukhpãth consisted of dhoon, prathana, kirtan, Vachnamrut Loya-3, Prasangs, and Swami ni Vato. The test consisted of both an oral and written exam.
Opening Evening Session
Pujya Yagnavallabh Swami inaugurated KarCon 2003 with the dip pragatya ceremony. Karyakars had the benefit of hearing the importance of the theme. P. Yagnavallabh Swami elaborated on how Maharaj and the Guru Parampara exemplified samarpan-bhavana.
(Bal Karayakars) Learning Chemistry 101, Building Dynasties, Balance & Focus, CentCom, and Becoming ãdarsh...
In order to enable karyakars to improve in their seva as sanchalaks - as stewards of their respective Bal Mandal, the National Bal Mandal Satsang Development Committee had designed workshops to address specific skills needed by each sanchalak. Chemistry 101 taught sanchalaks how to effectively utilize the national syllabus, as well as delegate and follow-up on related responsibilities. Building Dynasties gave solutions to common bal mandal problems faced nationwide as determined by a survey. This workshop was designed specifically to handle the top issues that the sanchalaks had felt to be important. Balance & Focus taught karyakars to develop and manage projects while Central Command (CentCom) taught karyakars how to lead and manage the Bal Mandal team.
Become ãdarsh was the last workshop which was dedicated to planning and implementing the national "Become ãdarsh" project. This project sets a criteria that every bal mandal should meet by May 2004 (the time Swamishri arrives in America). The criteria includes proper sabha dress (jabho-lengho), proper darshan, and niyam dharma, etc. P. Santo and regional coordinators assisted sanchalaks from their region as they planned the entire project for their local mandirs at the shibir itself.
(Balika Karayakars) Learning Chemistry 101; Building Dynasties; One Nation Under God; Think, Act, and Overcome; and The Bigger Picture...
Analogous to the bal mandal worshops described above, there were a total of five different workshops held for balika karyakars. These workshops were geared towards training sanchalikas and co-sanchalikas on different aspects needed to improve their mandal and make sabha run more efficiently. Similar to the workshop above, Chemistry 101 taught sanchalikas how to effectively utilize the national syllabus, as well as delegate and follow-up on related responsibilities. Building Dynasties elaborated on importance of developing focus, discipline, and communication among balikas, karyakars, and parents. This workshop was designed specifically to face demanding issues that sanchalikas felt were necessary. Think, Act, and Overcome communicated techniques toward realizing and overcoming common problems faced in balika mandals throughout the country. One Nation Under God taught karyakars to develop and manage projects while The Bigger Picture taught karyakars how to implement national projects at a local level, specifically the ãdarsh project referred to above.
Classroom Sessions by Saints
Pujya Munitilak Swami and Pujya Bhaktiswaroop Swami explained the principles of Samp. Pujya Devvandan Swami used Shastriji Maharaj's life as a case study to illustrate the importance of having pride in our Akshar Purshottam Upasana as well as the importance and power of developing samarpan-bhavana. Pujya Anupam Swami elaborated on the relevance of making both personal and mandal sacrifices in order to fulfill Pramukh Swami Maharaj's mission. Pujya Haridarshan Swami took a practical approach in teaching sanchalaks how to sacrifice ego while performing their seva. Pujya Kaivalyamurti Swami explained to karyakars the most important reason for sacrificing: because it is Swamishri's seva.
Following a thorough round of classes and workshops, karyakars took a break while continuing to learn through their teambuilding sessions. These games reinforced the ideas learnt throughout the convention.
Evening programs had three main goals: entertainment, inspiration, and karyakar introspection. Karyakars were treated to multiple "Bang - multimedia" presentations prepared from various mandals in the US along with quiz games, traditional speeches, kirtans, panel discussions and keynote addresses. The evening programs were also designed to fuel self-improvement. The first evening's theme was "Ever Since…" This theme motivated karyakars by showing the progress of the bal/balika mandal and satsang as well as pointing out the key role that karyakars play in the development of our sanstha. P.B. K.C. Patel provided an historical perspective on the trials and tribulations of satsang in its infancy in North America. Karyakars also heard personal experiences from P. Santo regarding how their own sanchalaks had a hand in helping them to become ãdarsh satsangis. The second day's theme was "Prapti". Balaks performed dances and karyakars were able to watch a panel discussion as well as hear inspirational speeches that revealed the meaning of 'prapti': viz. by elaborating on what we have attained, obstacles on the path toward experiencing fully the joy from that attainment, and what that unabridged joy feels like.
The entire shibir climaxed into a slideshow illustrating the ideal example of samarpan. Glimpses of Swamishri showering selfless love upon saints, vadils, kishores, and balaks impacted each sanchalak at an emotional level.
During the final session of KarCon 2003: Samarpan, everyone applauded the tireless efforts of the Houston Bal/Kishore Mandal as they had worked tirelessly to realize the entire event. All bal and balika karyakars signed 'Swaminarayan' on the leaves of an actual tree named the "Niyam Tree" and listed their new niyams on papers cut out in the shape of leaves.