Around 840 people, including 115 children and 71 teenagers, participated in the first UAE National Shibir to be held at the recently inaugurated BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi. The day-long shibir was themed ‘Lotus in the Desert’. Based on the inspiring story of the mandir’s creation, the delegates were encouraged to internalize the message: “If the mandir is our heart, let us make our heart into a mandir. Hence, the same quality, sincerity and intensity of focused efforts that went into constructing this majestic mandir should be applied to our own lives.”
The shibir sessions featured presentations on the mandir’s construction process, skits, group discussions and interactive quizzes, all combining to provide the delegates details of the spiritual effort needed to build the inner mandir.
Preparing the Land – Introspection: Highlighted the importance of inner preparation, deep introspection, engaging one’s mind on the Satpurush. This helps to remove negative habits and cultivate a pure heart, akin to preparing land for construction.
Strong Foundation – Prapti: Pujya Viveksagardas Swami explained the passion of prapti and how it cements a strong foundation in satsang, comparable to the strong environmentally friendly foundations of the mandir.
Resources – Virtues of the Satpurush: Through association with and contemplation on the Satpurush, one can acquire inner resources – the virtues of the Satpurush; these are equivalent to the resources required for building a physical mandir.
Challenges – Addressing the Inner Issues: During a Q&A session, Brahmaviharidas Swami provided clear and concise practical guidance on how to overcome inner challenges, parallel to the series of obstacles that were overcome during the mandir’s construction.
The toddlers, kids, teenagers and youth participated in their own separate shibirs on the same theme. Their activities were tailored to their level of understanding, including team building exercises, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, puppet shows, and letter writing.
The shibir inspired the participants with a personal spiritual resolve to ‘Make a Mandir in Our Hearts.’

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