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A national shibir for pre-shishus (children aged up to 3 years) was held in The Swaminarayan School on Saturday 17 April 2010. The aim of the shibir was to convey the various Hindu traditions of India as well as to help parents better engage with their toddlers – all in a colourful, playful manner using interactive games and workshops.

The shibir opened with the traditional deep pragatya followed by a ‘plane dance’ performed by children, symbolising the learning journey they were all to embark upon during the day.

Over 150 parents and children attended the shibir which began with two group sessions. Children up to 2 years old and their parents enjoyed a practical and interactive baby massage workshop with advice on parenting and bonding offered by the parenting team. Parents also had a chance to read up on general nutrition advice displayed on information boards along the sides of the hall.

Meanwhile, children aged 2-3 years and their parents ventured into classrooms to learn and experience the Hindu traditions of various parts of India. They also enjoyed traditional dancing in colourful Gujarat, weaving paper baskets in agricultural Punjab, and yoga in mystic Uttarakhand.

After the break, the two groups reassembled in the Yogi Hall for the second session. The children and their parents formed teams with other families for a mandir-building activity. The teams were provided a selection of materials from which they were required to construct a model of a mandir within 20 minutes. This was met with much enthusiasm and it gave parents a chance to meet and talk to other parents. While the judging for this activity was taking place, all the parents participated in a quiz. The shibir ended with the winners of the mandir-building activity being announced.

The day was a resounding success packed with fun and learning. Those who attended left with an increased knowledge of Hinduism as well as parenting tips for their children. 

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