While many would have heard of spelling bees, a unique spelling bee competition took place at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston on May 11, 2008 which tested the participating children's knowledge of Gujarati language. A total of 68 children, ranging from age 5 to 15 had been learning a variety of words, both spelling and meaning, in their mother tongue (Gujarati) in order to compete in this competition. Based on their eligibility criteria they were divided in 4 groups. In each round, the participating children had to spell 5 words and pronounce them as well. Their hard work and determination was apparent as they took the stage with confidence and gave answer to tough Gujarati words with clear pronunciations.
All the participating 36 boys and 32 girls were given a medal and certificate for their participation and efforts, and three deserving winners in each group were awarded first, second, and third prize trophies. The awards were presented by Mr. Kamlesh Patel, Chairman of Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd. The crowd was full of proud family members and friends supporting the children in their quest to grasp their mother language.
Following is the list of winners of the competition
Group 1: Darshan Patel, Dipali Patel
Group 2: Hemal Patel, Shruti Hariyani
Group 3: Sahil Patel, Jill Patel
Group 4: Romil Patel
Group 1: Manav Patel, Neeti Patel
Group 2: Nimesh Patel, Mauli Patel
Group 3: Avinash Patel, Aarti Patel
Group 4: Akshar U Patel
Group 1: Dhruv Parmar, Purvi Patel
Group 2: Yash Patel, Aktaa Patel
Group 3: Samir Undavia, Krisha Desai
Group 4: Mayur J Patel
Many parents agreed that teaching their children Gujarati has been a substantial challenge for them as the need to speak English remains greater in day to day life. Through the inspiration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, since 1980, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandirs nationwide have been conducting Gujarati classes. These classes are taught at various levels based on the ability of the student, beginning with the basic alphabet advancing until a strong command of reading, writing, and speaking Gujarati has been achieved. Mrs. Rajeshvari Patel said, "my 8 year old son, Darshan was so excited to go to Gujarati class and learn everything. Today he couldn't wait to go to mandir to participate in the Gujarati spelling bee." Using a unique combination of fun techniques and well-planned curriculums, the Gujarati classes provide a solid forum for children and youths to expand their culture through language acquisition.