In today’s busy society, families struggle to find contentment with so many issues to face and resolve, the key ones being to understand each other better and raising children effectively. Few can perfect the skills or ‘know-how’ of developing a good mutual relationship or parenting. The aim of the Parivar Sammelans (Family Seminars) was to educate both adults and children to better understand each other and learn how to develop a stronger mutual bond.
For several weeks, sadhus and volunteers had planned and prepared for the four sammelans – the first of their kind to be held. The Sammelans were held in three locations – London on Saturday 8 March and Sunday 9 March; Leicester (Saturday 15 March) and Ashton (Sunday 16 March) for upcountry centres. Due to the large number of families in London, the event was split over two days. 250 families (680 people) participated in London; in Leicester, 140 families (469 people); in Ashton, 105 families (280 people). The event consisted of six sessions. Topics covered in the sessions included financial and media/technology guidance, understanding each other, Satsang rituals, roles and rules of family members, and habits of happy families. In two sessions, the individual family members got together for a challenging and thrilling team building project and to develop a family action plan.
The event lasted all day from 8.00am to 8.00pm with refreshments and meals provided. In some of the sessions, the young children, teenagers, youths and adults were split into separate classrooms and guided according to their age level and responsibility in the family. Speeches and presentations, games, role plays and interviews were used to pass on various messages.
Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj gave his blessings by writing, “From the Swamini Vato and the life of Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj, one can learn how to practise Satsang and perform one’s duties so that one can experience peace continually. Therefore, the more we engage in reading these books and strengthen our Satsang and also contemplate on the way in which the gurus lived their lives, then when we face challenges in our lives, we will also experience happiness and be able to lead a successful life; our children will also become happy through this same inspiration.”
Adults and children found that the entire day went by quickly and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. After the event, everyone felt inspired to become closer to each other. They realised the importance of quality family time (ghar sabha). They became aware of their mistakes and got clarification as to their roles in the family. They also learnt how to understand each other and to deal with family problems in an effective way.
Judging from the feedback received, the sammelans were a great success. Some of the comments received:
“We should have these once or twice every year to remind us and redirect us in our busy family lives.”
“This has been a very good eye-opener for me.”
“Now we know how much our parents have done for us and how we can help them.”
“I’m glad I came as we got to learn ways to solve our conflicts, communicate better and live more happily as a family.”
“The sadhus have gone out of their way to help us live our family lives happily. Thank you ever so much.”
Such were the comments of various age-grouped people that attended the sammelans. As a reminder and follow up of the sammelan, everyone was sent an email with the powerpoint slides used in the sessions for them to go through with all the family members.