On 11 January 2023, the BAPS Women’s Wing organised a seminar at the Women’s Empowerment Hall on the topic of ‘Save Electricity and Water and Maintain Cleanliness’ attended by thousands.
Ms. Meena Kaviya, President of the Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs (Gujarat chapter) and Director of Ayma Creations Pvt. Ltd., was invited as the guest speaker to address the audience. She said, “To offer devotion to God means to serve him, which goes beyond just singing devotional songs. This is exemplified by BAPS volunteers. The positivity, welcoming smiles and happiness radiating on all the volunteers’ faces clearly demonstrates that Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centenary Celebration is a celebration of humanity.”
Explaining the importance of water and electricity conservation and maintaining cleanliness, she said, “Our concept of Dharma is different from the western concept of religion. Dharma means being bound to perform a set of duties for a greater good. Environmental conservation is a big part of our Dharma. We have been taught that taking care of nature is a way of serving God.”
Highlighting the numerous BAPS initiatives to nurture and preserve the environment, she shared, “In the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, the volunteers’ service for and strong emotional attachment to the environment are wonderful. I am particularly touched by BAPS’s efforts to cultivate such values in their children because they will grow into adults who will care for nature.”
She emphasised how Vedic traditions have always taught us the ways to preserve environmental resources, “Since Vedic times, we have been taught to value water, trees, plants, etc. To offer reverence and perform puja means to take care of natural resources and not abuse them. Methods like rainwater harvesting and desilting water bodies are effective steps that our ancestors took to preserve the environment. Even scriptures such as the Ramayan give in-depth insights on how to keep the Saryu River clean, which we should emulate. We must value the wisdom our own culture.”
She further continued that “We need to save water for the upcoming generations. Mother Earth is making a huge sacrifice by providing coal for electricity generation that makes our lives comfortable, so we must conserve electricity. Simple steps like wearing clothes appropriate to the weather and thereby reducing the need for heaters, turning off devices when not in use, using the eco-friendly mode on electronic appliances, etc., can help us in saving energy. If natural resources are exhausted, our upcoming generations will not be able to survive. We believe in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, and so we should keep ourselves, our surroundings, our country and the Earth clean. The Arthshastra very clearly defined punishment for people who flouted the rules of cleanliness. The revival of such rich old traditions would make the preservation of the environment easy. Hence, we should use our traditional values and lead a more eco-friendly life.”
On this occasion, dignitaries such as Ms. Dhyani Dave, Women International Chess Master and Founder of Dhyan Chess Academy, Ahmedabad; Dr. Hina Shah, Founder and Director, ICECD; Ms. Tejal Amin, Chairperson, Navrachana Education Society; Ms. Rupal Patel, President of Anand Nagarpalika; Ms. Pooja Patel, Professional Yoga Trainer, Kadi;  Ms. Vibhavari Dave, Former MLA-Bhavnagar; Ms. Deevyata Pandya, National Level Medalist in Skating, Vadodara were felicitated by the BAPS Women’s wing volunteers.
Ms. Dhyani Dave, Women International Chess Master and Founder of Dhyan Chess Academy, Ahmedabad, narrated her life’s journey and said, “When I was just 6 years old, my mother had an intuition that I had the potential to become a brilliant chess player. She believed in my abilities even before I was aware of them. Since then, I have played chess on state, national and international levels.”
Recounting how she became the Gujarat State Champion, she said, “In contrast to the 200 contestants in the boys’ tournament, there were only 5 or 6 girls competing in the girls’ tournament. I remember thinking I was lucky to have fewer competitors, but as I began playing in national and international tournaments, it dawned on me that chess is a male-dominated sport. To encourage girls to join chess, I started the Dhyan Chess Academy, which offers free chess classes to girls. Many girls graduating from this Academy have gone on to win national and international medals and have made India proud.”
Stressing on the importance of women’s empowerment and appreciating the role played by BAPS, she said, “Women need two things to be truly empowered, the right education and faith in their own abilities. From a young age, I believe parents should guide their children by teaching them virtues and giving them access to good education as well as opportunities that will help them grow in different fields like chess, tabla, and art, to name a few. I saw this very culture in action when I was invited to speak at the BAPS Swaminarayan Vidyamandir, Randesan (Secondary Girls Residential School). Schools like these, which are not only imparting knowledge but also focusing on the all-round development of their students, are the need of the hour. If we empower girls in this manner from a young age, one day a time will come when we won’t need to talk about women’s empowerment as we will already be empowered and it will be a way of life.”
Dr. Hina Shah, Founder and Director of the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development (ICECD), emphasised “Pramukh Swami Maharaj devoted his whole life to the service of society. He guided countless people onto the path of spirituality. He has empowered innumerable women of all ages through various initiatives like girls’ schools, Yuvati Talim Kendras (Young Women’s Development Centres) and Women’s Wings. It is important to recognize that a society is self-sufficient only when a woman is empowered. When women are empowered, families will be empowered, and these families will go on to empower societies. Pramukh Swami Maharaj has given us a platform to empower ourselves and every woman around us.”
Ms. Tejal Amin, Chairperson of Navrachana Education Society, began by saying, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj lived a life of service and discipline. We need to instil these values in our children.”
She further highlighted, “Women need to drive the movement of women’s empowerment by empowering themselves, their neighbours and their daughters. Let all of us women pledge to uplift all the women we come in contact with.”
Mrs. Amin concluded by saying, “I would like to extend my congratulations to the entire BAPS team for organising and bringing to life this grand Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centenary Celebrations. The ethos of BAPS and Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message of humility, love and serving humanity is clearly evident in the ‘seva’ being done by all the volunteers present here in this Nagar. I am taking inspiration from this visit to dedicate my life to social causes that extend beyond just my family. May BAPS continue to spread love and service to all for a better future of our world.”
Ms. Rupal Patel, President of Anand Nagarpalika said, “I am blessed and honoured to be invited to this magnificent Nagar. This service will generously bless the lives of all the volunteers with abundant joy, health, and peace.”
Ms. Pooja Patel, Professional Yoga Trainer, Kadi, said, “I am experiencing immense happiness and can feel the positive vibrations being spread by this Nagar. I feel honoured to be invited to this event which is spreading and promoting the vital message of women’s empowerment.”
Ms. Vibhavari Dave, Former MLA-Bhavnagar, shared, “Through the very beautiful and powerful management in Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar’s Women’s Empowerment Hall, women’s skills and abilities are sharpened and given the right platform. This helps in transforming their lives. It especially inculcates values, culture, unity and fraternity in people. I thank you for organising such an event in Gujarat.”


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