After spending 5 days in London
Mandir, 34 balaks and 32 balikas (including 4 karyakars) from
America and Canada visited India from July 10th to August
10th. The India tour has become a summer tradition for the
American and Canadian bal and balika mandals. The selection
of balaks and balikas included representatives from New York,
Toronto, Edison, Clifton, Jersey City, Philadelphia, Washington,
Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Dallas,
Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, and Kansas City Satsang
centers. The trip was arranged in three phases.
The first phase was a tour of
mandirs and places of historical and religious significance.
The tour covered BAPS mandirs in Mumbai, Tithal, Navsari,
Sankari, Surat, Bharuch, Atladara, Bochasan, Mahelav, Anand,
Vidyanagar, Sarangpur, Gadhada, Gondal, Rajkot, Bhadra, Junagadh,
Mahesana, Gandhinagar, and finally Amdavad. At each mandir,
the balaks sat with the local sadhus and learnt the history
behind the building of each mandir. They were graced by enlightening
discourses from Mahant Swami, Kothari Swami (Mumbai), Balmukund
Swami, Tyagvallabh Swami, Ishwarcharan Swami and many other
The tour also included visits
to mandirs of the old sampraday in Vadtal, Gadhada, Rajkot
Junagadh, Sarangpur, Kariyani, Loj, Panchala, Mangrol, and
Amdavad. The children also visited Chansad, the birthplace
of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Amli Vali Pol, where our guru
was appointed as the president of the Sanstha. The balaks
and balikas also enjoyed 3 days of sightseeing in Mt. Abu.
The second phase, and highlight
of the trip, was the shibir phase. From July 15th to19th,
they were graced with the presence of H.D.H. Pramukh Swami
Maharaj in Bochasan. The balaks enjoyed individual time with
Swamishri during his meals and presented kirtans and mukhpath
during his morning walks and puja. For weeks, the balaks had
been preparing to present speeches, mukhpath, and kirtans
in Gujarati in front of Swamishri. Some balaks even prepared
discourses on Vachanamrut, Swamini Vato and Harililamrut,
while others gave speeches in Spanish and French. Swamishri
also graced the shibir regularly with his presence and participation.
The balaks participated in games, festival celebrations, and
a question and answer session with Swamishri. The shibir was
continued in Sarangpur until July 23rd. As the shibir ended
all of the balaks and balikas undertook new niyams and personal
goals for the future.
The theme of the shibir was 'Satsang
Our Pride & Glory.' The goal of the shibir was to help
the balaks and balikas develop pride in being part of this
famous Sanstha, pride for our rich Indian culture, and pride
in having attained the Supreme God and such a unique Guru.
Along with a deeper understanding of the glorious history
behind our mandirs and traditions, each balak and balika left
with a feeling of pride and an understanding that they possess
something rare and special. They each left with a determination
to rise above everyday peer pressures and please their Guru
at all costs by following his agna.
The third and final phase of
the trip was a one week visit to their friends, family, and
acquaintances in their respective home cities throughout Gujarat.
"This was a great trip and
a great experience. We visited so many important places and
learned so many things. What a way to spend the summer! It
was much more than we had ever have expected." - Hari
Ray, Jersey City, Bal Sanchalak.