Saturday 21st April 2007 saw the Swaminarayan Mandir Haveli filled with an atmosphere of excitement and eagerness as the first ever National Shishu Shibir took place. For the first time, 300 Shishus travelled with their parents from as far as Portsmouth, Loughborough, Birmingham and Leicester to participate in this historic event.
Registration entailed each child registering, receiving a number tag and a snack, and last but not least, the privilege of having a photograph taken with their respective parents, who were also the honoured invitees to this Shibir.
To add to this inspirational event, parents were also accommodated for throughout the Shibir. This was accomplished by holding a parallel Shibir specifically aimed at the parents of the Shishus which covered a number of different topics mainly surrounding the area of nurturing our children to embed traditions, values and Swaminarayan Sanskruti into their lives.
The Shibir was inaugurated by P. Anandpriya Swami via the lighting of the divo on stage with a Shishu, a parent and a sanchalak.
Whilst the inauguration proceeded, the very young Shishus aged from 3 months to 3 years of age were provided with the opportunity to play. The hall was full of colourful toys, activities, and mini slide and most exciting of all a giant bouncy castle. There were also many structured activities like singing, story telling and possibly their first formal introduction to Seva – where they made a pasta haar for Maharaj.
The first session involved informing the Shishus of the Sanstha’s majestic past. This was in fact portrayed via dramas, speeches and entertaining dialogues between animal characters that travelled back through time and explained the greatness of our Sanstha.
An appealing event to the Shishus was the hands-on activity which came next. The Shishus were spilt into groups of 10 to build a Ghar Mandir. This activity proved to be greatly successful as the parents also participated and became one with their children on this project.
Following lunch came the second auditorium session. Shishus were given the opportunity to bring in unity within themselves as they commenced in a group activity in which they worked together to discover factual information about the present activities of our sanstha, and focusing mainly on our Guruhari Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Based on this, the children also learned how to strengthen their own characters.
Amusements were put aside for the final session of the Shibir which shed light on basic niyams and following Swamishri’s agna. This covered a variety of our basic niyams, ranging from ‘how to do arti?’ to ’what to eat on Ekadashi?’. Indeed, each Shishu walked away from this session motivated and inspired to abide by the niyams of Satsang.
A picturesque environment – a princess’s castle and a football arena - greeted the Shishus as they entered the final part of the Shibir: A special party filled to the brim with snacks, drinks and full party accompaniments. A party bag which included a ‘glow in the dark’ murti of P.P.Bapa was then distributed to children as they left the day despite exhaustion, with a smile on their faces and in anticipation of the next Shishu Shibir.