On Sunday 17 June 2007, over 250 fathers and sons gathered to celebrate a special Parents' Day at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden (London). The inspirational event was celebrated as ‘Pitru-Devo Bhava’ and included a colourful cultural programme centred on the Vedic sentiments of revering one’s father as one reveres God.
The programme began at 10am in the Mandir Haveli with prayers sung by the balaks. After being introduced to the ‘Pitru-Devo Bhava’ theme and its significance in today’s increasingly estranged family setup, everyone enjoyed a touching speech by a young boy on ‘Appreciating Parents’.
This was followed by an entertaining and insightful game wherein the sons were quizzed on their fathers’ habits and likings. The game creatively highlighted Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s emphasis on effective communication for a successful parent-child relationship.
Another game involving the whole audience used a double-sided jigsaw puzzle to drive home another of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s messages. With a map of the world on one side and a family in a home on the other, it helped explain that if everyone puts their family together, the world will take care of itself!
The programme continued with young balaks conducting a short Vedic ceremony which included the sons offering panchang pranam to their fathers. The special ritual ended with each father and son placing sakar (a sugar-crystal) in each other’s mouths – symbolising their commitment to a sweeter, stronger bond between each other.
Thereafter, a sadhu presented an enlightening speech highlighting qualities from Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life – such as love, trust, and mutual respect – necessary in developing an ideal father-son relationship.
The first session ended at 1pm with each son presenting his father a letter he had prepared the previous week. The letter contained emotional statements that began: “I am thankful for…”, “I am sorry for…”, and “My message to you is…”.
After the lunch break, when everyone was treated to a delicious meal, the fathers attended a special Parent’s Seminar conducted by members of the BAPS Parenting Department.
As everyone departed, one father remarked: “I read the message my son wrote for me and I was deeply moved. Today’s programme has not only been thoroughly enjoyable, but also an eye-opener. I now promise to spend more quality time with my son.”
A similarly themed event was also hosted at various other BAPS centres around the country, where many more fathers and sons also enjoyed a colourful and inspirational programme.