Under the theme of Women’s Empowerment, BAPS Women’s
Wing celebrated Women’s Day as part of the BAPS Centenary
Celebrations in Chandkheda, Amdavad on the Sabarmati-Gandhinagar
highway. Specially created skits, dances, lectures and presentations
were performed by BAPS women volunteers aged from 5 to 75.
An international audience of thousands viewed the program.
The program began with a video presentation on Women’s
Empowerment, comments on BAPS Women’s Wing from Sheila
Dixit and Indira Betiji, a presentation on the BAPS Swaminarayan
Sanstha and traditional welcome with opening prayer.
Then, a magnificent parade, called Bhakti Yatra, with beautifully
decorated floats rolled it ways across the stage. Each float
represented a different activity of BAPS and the principles
of Bhagwan Swaminarayan; cultural preservation, health awareness,
education awareness, social work, family unity and spiritual
progress. Each float also had up to 50 girls in full traditional
costume waving flags, dancing and acting.
Two major accomplishments by small girls, ‘Say No to
Addiction’ campaign and character development seminars
of the BAPS Women’s Wing were highlighted in a lecture.
This was followed by a felicitation of BAPS women from around
the world. Each woman was honoured for her noteworthy educational,
career or personal achievement. An inspiring video presentation
on ‘Developing the Leader of Tomorrow’ was shown
to promote and encourage women to reach new heights and break
BAPS Women’s Wing engages in many social service activities.
They have been instrumental in the rehabilitation of thousands
of women affected by the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake and 2004
South Asian Tsunami. The work done by BAPS women volunteers
was presented, but the highlight was the introduction of many
of the women who benefited from the work. These women, from
remote areas of the country, were the special guests of BAPS.
Following the Navdha Bhakti dance was a touching performance
based on a true event called ‘Inspiring Mothers.’
Here, a mother is shown writing a letter to her son. In it,
she encourages her son to become a sadhu and give his life
in service to society as guided by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and
Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
More than 700 girls and women from throughout Gujarat and
parts of Maharashtra worked day and night for 2 months to
make this day of the BAPS Centenary Celebrations a success.
The Centenary Celebrations of BAPS, a United Nations affiliated
social-spiritual organization with 3,300 global centres, 700
mandirs, 780 sadhus, 55,000 volunteers and one million followers,
will continue on 15 and 17 December 2007, with Children’s
Day and Guru Bhakti Day (87th Birthday Celebrations of Pramukh
Swami Maharaj), respectively. All programs will be telecast
live every day from 5:30pm to 8:30pm on Aastha.
Reports of each day of the celebrations will be posted in
the Media Info section of the BAPS website at www.swaminarayan.org.
Introduction to BAPS Women’s Activities
By the grace of His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj,
BAPS Women’s Activities are presently run in over 6000
women’s forums around the world and over 10,000 women
volunteers manage the spiritual and social activities run
through these centres. The goal of these activities is the
spiritual and social advancement of all women regardless of
class and race.
BAPS Women’s Wing functions in three departments: Women,
Young Women and Girls. While much of the spiritual programs
remain the same throughout the three departments, each differs
from a social and individual development perspective. To execute
their tasks more efficiently and intelligently, BAPS women
volunteers attend leadership-training camps. Here, they are
trained for social, moral and educational service in society.
Geographically, BAPS Women’s Wing has active centres
throughout India, USA, UK, Europe, Africa, Pacific and Middle
East. Each centre engages in various activities; examples
include weekly spiritual assemblies, preparations for special
festivals, spiritual discourses, satsang exams, community
development initiatives, and community outreach activities.
A truly notable feature of the BAPS Women’s Wing is
their in-house produced magazine, Premvati, which is released
once every two months. Additionally, BAPS women produce newsletters,
books, audio recording and videos for the education and advancement
of women worldwide.
Previous accomplishments include a massive literacy campaign
through which 12,000 women were taught the basics of reading
and writing. Anti-dowry awareness, blood donation camps, education
awareness and counselling, anti-female infanticide campaigns
and relief work have all been successfully planned and executed
under the leadership of the BAPS Women’s Wing. Nearly,
100 schools in the Panchmahal district of Gujarat benefited
from a kitchen garden project aimed at delivering nutritious
lunchtime meals to school children. After the Gujarat Earthquake
and South Asian Tsunami, the BAPS Women’s Wing took
action to bring livelihoods back to the thousands of families
affected. Over 150 milk-producing buffalo were given to women
in Kutch. With raw materials given by BAPS, women were able
to start producing traditional embroidered clothing to sell
in city markets. Small scale enterprises, like rubber slipper
production, now employ nearly many women who lost their livelihoods
after the tsunami struck.
Today, the Young Women’s department has developed a
customized program for young women, BAPS WILL (Women’s
Ideals for Learning & Living). This program brings together
remarkable stories and lectures of women from all walks of
life for the inspiration of young women worldwide. The Girls
department is focused on delivering lessons of Hindu values,
Indian culture, educational motivation and health awareness.
Small girls have also taken part in social service activities.
Over 3,000 girls spoke to 147,226 people about the ill effects
of addiction to smoking and alcohol. In 225 hospitals, 500
girls met and prayed for 4,350 patients.