A 3-day convention was held between Thursday 26th and Saturday 28th August 2004, during which the essentials of living a moral, spiritual and cultured life were taught to the young and old members of the Sansthan. Educational, recreational and social events were held to promote unity and understanding between people of all ages.
Throughout the convention, Acharya Swamishree talked about the supreme Lord Swaminarayan, and imparted His spiritual knowledge to all. Detailed explanations, demonstrations and workshops were held to teach all participants the correct methods of mansi pooja and other daily niyams.
Special emphasis was given to performing pooja and mansi pooja in the correct manner. Over 200 participants below the age of 16 took part in a multimedia pooja demonstration on each morning of the event. The Sants extensively explained each aspect of the pooja ceremony, whilst volunteers demonstrated this description, live, projected onto screens around the temple. In parallel to this, the divine darshan of Acharya Swamishree’s own pooja was cast onto a giant screen.
As well as gaining spiritual and cultural awareness, and moral values, key personal skills such as building confidence, public speaking, team working, respecting others, etc. were also taught. Activities were held to enhance and develop the characters and skills of all the participants, who ranged in age from 4 to 90. The age range itself served to strengthen the links between the generations, and to bridge the gap between the young and old – building trust and respect between all.
Sants took part in the various sporting activities, and Acharya Swamishree gave His divine darshan throughout the entire first day and much of the following days. All the participants were divided into eight teams, to instil team working and leadership skills. The first evening’s activities comprised of Kirtans and speeches prepared and delivered by the young participants of the Shibir. In this way, the importance of religious practice was highlighted whilst developing personal skills such as self-confidence and public oration.
The final evening of the Shibir was an awards ceremony, where every participant received a special trophy of Shree Ghanshyam Maharaj laser-etched into acrylic, by Acharya Swamishree Himself. In appreciation of Acharya Swamishree inspiring this Shibir, all the participants gave Him and the entire Sant Mandal a gift of dhotis and gatadia.
Over 400 participants, the majority of whom were under 16, attended the events each day. Neighbours of the temple and members of the wider community also came to see the events and often stayed for the three meals provided each day. The community Police Officers, who attended to advise on security also joined in with some of the activities. They commended the temple’s efforts in organising such an event, and they themselves gained a unique insight into the rich and varied Swaminarayan religion and culture.