The popular one-day National Shishu Mandal Shibir for 2014, entitled ‘BAPS na Baag ma’, was held on Saturday 24 May 2014 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
More than 370 children aged from 0 to 8 attended from across the country for a fun-filled day of learning. They were joined by more than 340 parents.
The programme was based around the year-long celebrations to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj. Through various sights, sounds and sensory experiences, it helped the children understand the work of Shastriji Maharaj and the rich heritage of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
The opening ceremony included vibrant stage decorations to illustrate the theme of a garden. Two ‘gardeners’ welcomed and entertained the children, exploring the history and meaning of BAPS through each of its four letters. Through the first letter ‘B’, they explained the Sanstha’s humble beginnings in Bochasan, highlighting key incidents that formed its foundations. The children and parents then participated in a re-creation of the first arti in Bochasan Mandir.
After the opening ceremony, parents headed over to a special parenting seminar where they learned about nutrition, education, parenting skills, and essential factors to help enrich values and principles in their children. The children continued their exploration of BAPS, moving to ‘A’ for Akshar. Each session presented a unique insight into the glory of Gunatitanand Swami as revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan himself, and the unbreakable connection between the two. The children were able to apply what they had learned from the session through interactive activities, thus consolidating their understanding.
A picnic-themed lunch followed thereafter before an understanding of ‘P’ for Purushottam. This was presented through the concepts of Sarvopari, Sakar, Karta and Pragat. The session was a practical lesson which included an opportunity to sculpt a murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
The final session elaborated on the letter ‘S’ for Sanstha, which covered the efforts of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in advancing BAPS through his worldwide spiritual travels, selfless charity work and the building of mandirs. The children were taught to respect the mandir as it is a representation of Maharaj’s form. Through an obstacle course, they were also able to think about the difficulties that Pramukh Swami Maharaj has faced.
The full meaning of BAPS – Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha – was thus elucidated in a fun, engaging and relevant way for the children.
After the enjoyable and interactive sessions, the day was brought to a joyous end with the closing ceremony. The parents rejoined the group for a colourful dance performed by the young children of Wellingborough.
The volunteers had prepared a special gift pack full of activities to enable parents to help their children continue the learning process at home.
All the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and amidst all the fun and games were able to understand the history and deeper spiritual meaning behind BAPS.
One father shared: “My wife and I are really glad we attended. It has been such a fun-filled environment for the children which they’ll certainly remember. We too gained many secrets to parenting.... Thank you so much to all the volunteers who have put so much time and effort behind our children!”
The children departed with a special gift to remind them that they are one of the flowers blossoming in this wonderful garden of BAPS.