On 29 December 2019, Mahant Swami Maharaj wrote a letter to the UK & Europe Satsang Mandal explaining the fundamental importance of ahnik (daily personal practices of devotion) for one’s spiritual progression and as a personal contribution to the 25th anniversary celebrations of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
Making this the central theme, a special online one-day family shibir was organised on Sunday 12 July 2020 to better understand the meaning, method and benefits of these daily devotional practices and how to improve their quality.
The shibir covered daily puja, arti, thal, mansi and cheshta as well as more generally the importance of a ghar mandir through a series of enlightening video presentations, discourses by senior and learned swamis, demonstrations, and interactive exercises throughout the day. The learning included inspiring examples from the exemplary lives of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj.
The shibir began with samuh puja where families performed their personal puja in unison with the aid of an online tutorial. Families then enjoyed the webcast darshan of Mahant Swami Maharaj’s puja that was recorded earlier in Nenpur, India.
The webcast sessions continued thereafter, providing detailed guidance on the various aspects of personal daily satsang and the sharing of best practises. The teachings were supported with worksheets and pre-prepared resources with opportunities for members of the family to participate in these practices at home.
During the afternoon, families held discussions on how to improve the quality of their collective devotion at home. They also had time to enjoy fun family activities.
Following the evening session, families also joined the live webcast of the sandhya arti and the abhishek of Shri Nilkanth Varni Maharaj in London while joining in at their own homes. The enlightening day concluded with samuh cheshta, also webcast from London.
The special programme provided an ideal opportunity for families to strengthen their personal devotion to God and also to make pledges of improving the quantity and quality of time together as a family. Swamis provided answers to various questions that had been submitted beforehand, providing clarity and clearing several common misconceptions.
Samir Patel, a father of two, from Edinburgh, shared his impressions of the day: “This was one of the best shibirs I have taken part in. We learned so much! And it was really enjoyable and easy to digest. We’re really looking forward now as a family to performing arti, thal and our other ahnik and improving together in our bhakti and personal satsang.”