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On Saturday 18 April 2009, the National Shishu Shibir entitled ‘Ghanshyam Jeva Thaiye’ was held at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. 100 pre-shishus (aged 0-3), 180 shishus (aged 3-8) and approximately 220 parents attended the Shibir, which was filled with fun and enjoyment and plenty of learning.

The hall was beautifully decorated with balloon arches, creating great excitement, whilst the theme of the event involved ‘spending the day with Ghanshyam’ and focusing on becoming like Ghanshyam – the ideal role model for all shishus.

Yogvivek Swami began the Shibir with the traditional deep pragatya ceremony, which was then followed by the first session – ‘Ghanshyam at Home’. Through Manoharmurti Swami’s enlightening speech, an entertaining drama and a video, the shishus were taught about behaviour at home, respect for parents and the ideal daily routine that they should follow. The parents attended a special interactive Parenting Seminar where they were able to learn the importance of spending time and interacting with their children.

In the following session, ‘Ghanshyam at School’, the hall was divided into six story telling corners with each story narrating a moral that shishus could learn from, e.g. not to steal, not to harm any animals, the importance of Ekadashi, etc. For the 0-3 year olds, this session also aimed to introduce the behaviour of an ideal child through a story-based performance on vivek and avivek in any environment.

This was followed by a playground themed lunch in the colourfully decorated sports hall with streamers, ribbons and balloons where the children were served a delicious meal. The highlight of the lunch was a special ‘black-board’ style wall that was specially constructed for the children to draw upon.

Following lunch, the session ‘Ghanshyam with Friends’ taught the shishus how they should play with everyone and make new friends. This was followed by a variety of games and activities which the shishus thoroughly enjoyed, especially ‘Ghanshyam, Ghanshyam’ and a huge tug-of-war. The 0-3 year olds also learnt how to share and play harmoniously, and work as a team; this was achieved through a sports day and fun activities including making a garland for Maharaj.

The last themed session of the day, ‘Ghanshyam at the Mandir’ involved a tour of the Mandir to learn about essential disciplines at key locations, such as how to perform darshan properly. For the 0-3 year olds, this session introduced the cultural aspects of attending mandirs as well as Satsang values.

The parents rejoined the group for the closing ceremony that included a wonderful dance performed by the young shishus themselves. All the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and amidst the fun and games, understood how to become the ideal shishu. The feedback from everyone was extremely positive with many shishus excited about returning next year.

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