19 balaks and 18 balikas embarked upon a spiritual excursion to India for four weeks during July and August 2014 to gain a deeper understanding of its culture and spirituality. Themed ‘Apni Parampara’, the objective of the tour was to introduce the children to their spiritual heritage by visiting major mandirs and centres in India and important places of pilgrimage associated with the Swaminarayan Sampradaya.
In keeping with the year-long celebrations for Shastriji Maharaj’s 150th birth anniversary, the children were able to understand in detail the challenges that Shastriji Maharaj faced in establishing BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
The group began the journey at Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi where they delved deeper into the life and work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. This provided valuable context for the various mandirs and sacred places they were to visit later in Gujarat.
The major highlight of the trip for the participants was a ten-day stay with Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Sarangpur, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad. His guidance and presence inspired positive changes and formed lifelong memories. Balaks were able to perform short dramas and dances many times in his presence.
During their stay in Sarangpur, an enlightening four-day shibir was organised where senior and learned sadhus shared their knowledge and experiences.
The unique culture and traditions of Hinduism were explored at Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar, which featured the popular Sat-Chit-Anand watershow. In Gondal, the children visited the Akshar Deri and each performed 150 pradakshinas. The children also visited the mandir that Bhagwan Swaminarayan had built in Vadtal, and later celebrated the festivals of Raksha Bandhan and Janmashtami.
During their visit, the children, with the help of their sanchalaks and sanchalikas, developed various personal skills and abilities, growing in maturity and self-reliance as well as living and working together. They gained a valuable insight into the Hindu faith as well as Satsang values and traditions, helping them strengthen their relationship with Bhagwan Swaminarayan and guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj.