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BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha holds National Youth Leadership Seminar

Los Angeles, Jan 20, 2009
By Dilip Butani

It was quite a sight to see more then 800 youth volunteers pour into Atlanta, GA on January 8, 2009 for Youth Leadership Seminar. These dedicated volunteers from across North America came together to participate in the fifth Youth Leadership Seminar to be inspired by one unifying message – to go above and beyond! The seminar was hosted at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Lilburn, GA – the largest traditional Hindu Mandir outside of India! The participants ranged from talented students to young professionals. As the attendees registered for the seminar, the room was charged with excitement. For the next three days, the youth leaders would attend lectures and participate in workshops, designed to help them develop skills in management, public speaking, interpersonal skills, and youth counseling.

“This was an extremely motivating weekend for me,” said Rani Thakkar, an investment banker from Cleveland, Ohio. “This is my third such seminar and I am always amazed at how inspiring they are. I am able to apply what I have learned not just to my volunteer work as a youth group leader but in my professional capacity.”

Along with cultivating leadership skills, the youth leaders also took part in the ceremonies and rituals performed at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. This interaction provided them with a chance to reach out to their Hindu and traditional roots. Through classroom sessions conducted by experienced and learned sadhus the participants took away a sense of pride for their culture and heritage.

“We learned so much the last few days on how to fine-tune our leadership skills”, said Vipul Patel, a graduate student from Atlanta, Georgia, “Along with learning these skills, I also gained a sense of who I am and where I come from.”
The Seminar was more than just information and education, it was fun! Akhil Patel, Coordinator of BAPS Youth Activities in North America observed some interesting comments from the participants. “They seem to love the environment. It creates a sense of belonging and positive energy. A lot of the participants loved the traditional Indian cuisine served in a traditional manner. I told one of the participants that was hesitating pointing that out as his favorite part of the seminar that it was one of my favorites too!”

The seminar, which originated in Atlanta 10 years ago, is a testament to the commitment that BAPS has made in nurturing youth and teaching them to be effective leaders and productive members of society around North America and the world.
Since its inception, BAPS has heavily invested in youth development across the world. Under the leadership of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of BAPS, the organization has opened 31 permanent educational institutions, provides 5,000 scholarships yearly, and established a worldwide youth and volunteer group. BAPS has also built 55 schools in disaster affected areas. The seminar proved to be another one of its excellent initiatives to better the community - by cultivating future generations with a sense of leadership, morality, spirituality and responsibility.

About BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha:

The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots - their rich Hindu culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these activities of character-building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure, and free of addictions.

About Pramukh Swami Maharaj:

His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of people across the world to lead a God-centered, morally pure life. As the present leader of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj travels from village to village, continent to continent, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress. He embodies the essence of Hindu life. His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity have touched many world religious and national leaders.




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