The 2017 UK Bal-Balika Mandal Summer Shibir was held at Warwick Conference Park from Friday 26 August to Monday 28 August 2017 in the presence of senior sadhus from India as well as sadhus from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
Titled ‘Rajipo – Know. Understand. Connect’, the shibir brought together more than 260 bal-balikas from across the UK to experience a fascinating journey of a child in search of profound spiritual blessings and happiness.
During the three-day programme, sadhus guided the bal-balikas to analyse various decisions a child like them makes and explained the merits and challenges of each choice. The presentations helped the children progress on the path to connect with Mahant Swami Maharaj and earn his blessings.
The shibir began by exploring the glory of the Satpurush, encouraging the young participants to reflect upon how their individual actions can please Swamishri. This concept was brought to life through a variety of scenarios covering subjects including unity, upholding the spiritual tenets prescribed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and studying hard.
Senior karyakars delivered a series of classroom sessions to provide deeper insights, explaining in particular the importance of daily rituals of worship (ahnik). The attendees also sharpened their note-taking skills to capture their personal memories with the Satpurush. An opportunity to write a personal letter to Mahant Swami Maharaj further strengthened their connection with the Satpurush and God who listens to their prayers, fulfils their wishes, forgives our mistakes and blesses us with progress, purity and prosperity in life.
A special treasure hunt, ‘In Search of Rajipo’, was thoroughly enjoyed by all the children as they got to explore the campus solving puzzles and interacting in activities. The team-building event fostered unity and enhanced their knowledge of Swamishri’s wishes. A very impressive interactive exhibition was also created by the Balika Mandal volunteers to provide a greater understanding of Swamishri’s life and personality.
During the evening sessions, children offered their personal devotion to Harikrishna Maharaj by performing arti and thal. Sadhus and youths sang vibrant bhajans during a grand kirtan bhakti programme to the accompaniment of an array of musical instruments.
The concluding keynote address was delivered by Yoganand Swami who explained that one’s actions should be centred on pleasing Mahant Swami Maharaj, providing motivation for Swamishri’s forthcoming visit to the UK. The children departed from the shibir with the message of ‘live for the Satpurush and strive to attain his rajipo’.
The three-day programme proved to be an inspiring experience. One young boy from Loughborough shared, "The shibir has helped me develop pride for my spirituality and developed my all-round confidence." Another girl from South London added, "I will do my best to strengthen my niyams and study hard. I will always try to please Mahant Swami Maharaj. I realise now his rajipo is the most important thing for me and following what he says is my way of pleasing him."