Our beloved Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj placed an immense emphasis on instilling the values of the Swaminarayan faith to our young disciples using "gammat saathe gnaan" or "playing and learning". In this spirit, using games, humour and playfulness, the aim of the weekend was to impart religious knowledge, drawing disciples both young and old alike to the path of devotion and absolute salvation.
Disciples across all ages were divided to form 4 teams: Ghanshyam Maharaj; Jeevanpran Abji Bapashree; Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.
The event consisted of a blend of mental, physical and dharmic games in an exuberant and inventive way to promote unity and learning within the Mandir congregation. The competition was exceptionally fierce with disciples from each teams’ age categories competing head-to-head to accumulate points for their respective teams to determine the overall winning team. The games played tested participants physical strength, aptitude and strength in a variety of skills. Examples of games played for the first time in a Bolton Shibir include “Million pound drop”, “Air tennis”, “Gladiators” and “Loggers”. The competitive teams unifying to support their players created huge cheers of encouragement from the lively crowds.
In addition to these games, guided Mansi Pooja’s were performed throughout the day with narration on how to perform them. Furthermore, devotees were split into their respective age groups and took part in dharmic sessions where they learnt about the virtues that a devotee should possess to please the merciful supreme Lord Shree Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and the reasoning behind how/why we perform certain devotional practises. All shibir participants also had the opportunity to take part in a Pooja workshop entailing the importance and manner of how to perform Pooja correctly. The dharmic activities held greatly enhanced the youngest minds in particular with spiritual knowledge.
Alongside the competitive activities, teams took part in ongoing competitions such as “Design a Hindolo” and “Build a Hindolo”. Teams were required to design and present a potential Hindolo, (“The Apprentice” style) before a panel of judges. The panel of judges decided that all the teams will have their Hindolo made, with Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa presiding upon it during the Hindola season later in the year.
The teams also had to build a Hindolo using only the materials provided and ensure the Hindolo possessed the strength to hold a mobile phone.
Acharya Swamiji Maharaj gave His Divine Blessings to all members of the Bolton community to remain happy and together.
Events of this type not only provide an opportunity for young disciples to play and learn, but they also help build unity within our community for disciples to end the current year and to begin the New Year on the best terms – i.e. by having fun pleasing the Lord and by spending time with other disciples. The 2023 Shibir was a fantastic success enjoyed by all who attended and truly pleased the Lord with their eagerness to learn about His glory, to perform devotion to Him, and to please Him in addition to the unity they exhibited amongst each other.