The 2016 Regional Summer Shibirs for both Bal and Balika wings took place in six North American regions from June through August. More than 4,500 youth from across the continent between ages 7 and 13 took part in the two-day shibir themed, “Hinduism: Nijatmanam Brahmarupam.” This shibir was designed to build on the 2014 Summer Shibir, “My Mandir, My Home,” and the 2015 Summer Shibir, “Shanti: Within Reach.” His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired this initiative to develop knowledge of Hindu philosophy and culture in spiritual education for children
Pramukh Swami Maharaj believes that it is imperative for the younger generation to understand their culture and history to be proud of their heritage. Under his guidance, and the guidance of swamis, “Hinduism: Nijatmanam Brahmarupam” was designed to help delegates understand their Hindu identity while growing up in North America. With social and educational pressure to fit in, Hindu children are often reserved in practicing Hindu rituals and traditions. These shibirs aim to help build cultural confidence in children in a peer environment. Surveys conducted of youths across North America provided key concerns, insights, and questions they have in their understanding of Hinduism. This feedback helped shape key areas of focus for this shibir.
The concluding program brought together all classroom sessions to help the youth understand that our life’s mission is to attain moksha which can be done with the guidance of the Guru. The Guru lifts us from the tribulations of maya and helps us transcend the temporal world and connect with Bhagwan. The youth left the shibir with a greater understanding of principles of Hinduism and its relevance to their individual cultural identities and lives.