This summer for five weeks during July and August, 30 balaks and 20 balikas together with four sanchalaks and five sanchalikas from across the UK travelled to India to gain a deeper firsthand experience of its spiritual beauty. The theme was “Apni Parampara” and the objective was to introduce the children to their Satsang heritage in India through a spiritual journey to major BAPS centres in India and important places of pilgrimage associated with the Swaminarayan Sampradaya.
One of the highlights of the trip was the seven days spent with Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Mumbai. His guidance and darshan offered life-enhancing opportunities and formed lifelong memories. The group celebrated the festivals of Shravan sud Ekadashi, Raksha Bandhan and India Independence Day in his presence. During this time, the participants were also fortunate to have interactive sessions with senior sadhus who shared their knowledge and experiences. The balaks also had an opportunity to present their oral abilities in the weekly Sunday assembly in Mumbai.
In addition to time spent with Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the children were able to appreciate the unique culture and traditions that Hinduism has to offer. Their visit included a tour of Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar, which featured the amazing Sat-Chit-Anand watershow. In Gondal, the children visited the Akshar Deri where all of them managed to complete 501 pradikshanas. The children also visited the mandir that Bhagwan Swaminarayan had built in Vadtal.
The final weeks in India were spent in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and New Delhi. The children visited Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi where they learned more about the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. This knowledge helped them when they visited Chhapaiya, the birthplace of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The balaks and balikas visited many places that had been sanctified by Bhagwan Swaminarayan as a child.
The five weeks spent in India by the balaks and balikas along with their sanchalaks and sanchalikas allowed all to grow in maturity and self-reliance, to learn to live and work with one another in sometimes difficult situations, and also to gain an invaluable insight into the Hindu faith as well as Satsang values and traditions.