Kar Seva literally means ‘services done by the hands’. Keeping this in mind the Kar Seva Shibir was conceptualized in May 2005 under the aegis of Shri Chitrapur Math, Shirali.
About Kar Seva Shibir
By- Vaishali Heblekar (nee Kallianpur) & Aniruddh Nagarkatte
Kar Seva literally means ‘services done by the hands’. Keeping this in mind the Kar Seva Shibir was conceptualized in May 2005 under the aegis of Shri Chitrapur Math, Shirali. Unlike other shibirs where participants camp away as a retreat, in the Kar Seva Shibir the participants reside in the Math precincts and the Shibir activities are conducted alongside the regular Math activities.
The Kar Seva Shibir works on similar lines of a regular Shibir and that in addition to interactions and fun-filled activities, there is an element of Seva or services offered to the Math, which is the main theme of the Shibir. All shibirarthis are encouraged to offer their services in whatever form possible and as per individual capacity to the Math.
The initiative for the same was undertaken first through a small group of youngsters from Santacruz sabha who undertook all these activities together. Since then the response to the following shibirs has increased and the shibirarthis are now divided into batches to ensure smooth functioning and greater efficiency.
The major activities of the Shibir can be categorized as follows:
• Educative & Informative Sessions
In the past Seva has been undertaken primarily in the form of working in the fields at Kembre farms to spread manure in the fields or de-weeding the pond at Kembre or collecting firewood at Panchavati.
The biggest learning of this seva is how individually, youngsters shed their inhibitions (working with manure-cowdung, cleaning the pond of muck, dirt etc) and differences and come together to work as a group towards a common goal- seva to the Math. It helps one understand one’s potential and push oneself towards a goal. The other seva done during the Shibir is serving food in batches in the dining area (Bhojanshala) to the people at the Math. The Shibirarthis are trained as to how to serve food to a Brahmin on a banana leaf and in what order it is served.
Also, Shibirarthis are encouraged to do Bhajan and Sangeet Seva (singing of devotional songs and also accompany with musical instruments) during the course of the daily Math pujas
All shibirarthis are encouraged to offer their services in whatever form possible and as per individual capacities. Students of veterinary science, medical science or fashion designing or any other specialized field are also encouraged to offer their services either at the 'Goshala', the Srivalli clinic or the Samvit Sudha etc.
Educative & Informative Sessions:
Educative sessions include indoor activities and interactions with guest faculty from amongst well-established 'amchis' or other people from outside our community in their respective fields, which not only gives a platform for youngsters to brainstorm but also educates them about our Guru Parampara, the Math and its activities.
The Shibir has had sessions with renowned well-established professionals on various aspects concerning career, time and stress management, personality development, public speaking and effective communication and many more such topics. There are also interactive sessions and games conducted to boost morale, increase self-confidence, enhance leadership skills and encourage group activities and dynamics amongst shibirarthis.
The shibirarthis are also taken on a guided tour around the Math- the 'Goshala' (cowshed), the Vidyarthi Pathshala (school), the Bhojanshala (dining area), the Dhyan Mandir (meditation room), the Samvit Sudha (the tailoring wing which stitches prasad seva bags for devotees and uniforms for Srivalli school children) etc to explain the various activities that go on in the precincts of the Math. The shibirarthis are explained the various Samadhis at the Math and the order of offering our prayers to them (according to the Guru Parampara). Additionally there are sessions conducted on our Guru Parampara and a basic understanding of our community, our ancestors, our family Gods and Goddesses and importance of certain rituals and prayers. The shibirarthis are also told the importance of our prayers, the Deepnamaskaar and all shibirarthis actively participate in the night puja, which at times is performed by our dear Swamiji.
The shibirarthis have also had a chance to visit other important places like our Samadhi Maths at Gokarn-Kotiteerth, Mallapur, Mangalore and also the temples at Vittal, Murdeshwar, Idgunji (Ganpati temple), etc. where the significance of each place is explained.
The regular interactions with Swamiji (Paramarsha or Vimarsha) is something that all shibirarthis look forward to where there is so much to learn and so much to clarify and get answers for all kinds of questions. The Shibir also emphasizes on physical fitness and there are either morning walks or warm-up sessions for all shibirarthis before the start of any physical work. During one of the shibirs, the shibirarthis had an interaction with the Shirali vet, Dr. Gaurish Padukone at Jali beach, who educated them about the work undertaken to prevent the extinction of Olive Ridley turtles. The session ended with young shibirarthis, in the presence of Swamiji, leaving small baby turtles in the sea- an immense learning experience towards a good cause.
An interesting aspect of the Shibir is the introduction to the BAIF project- a self-help group for village women, started by the women of Shirali and surrounding areas under the aegis of the Math. The youngsters are introduced to the ‘Parimochan’ project and the various activities undertaken under the project and are free to discuss all questions with the concerned officials. This initiative by the Math strives for the betterment of villagers around it and makes one realize as to what all activities are undertaken towards a good cause and how we can be a part of it.
Another interesting activity conducted at the Kar Seva Shibir is the interaction with the Srivalli school children where the shibirarthis and students jointly do an art and craft session and display their artefacts at the end. This session is most remarkable in its learning as students from the village and youngsters from urban surroundings come together on a common platform to share ideas and work together to create an exhibition of sorts. What follows is a fun-filled entertainment program by the shibirarthis and students in the presence of our Parampujya Swamiji.
Thus, this 1-week Shibir gets the 'amchi' youth together for a common cause. During their stay, Shibirarthis also witness special functions that are conducted simultaneously in the Math viz. thread ceremonies, special havans or pujas etc. Thus giving an opportunity to experience and get acquainted to a few facets of our culture. The Shibir schedule works in tandem with Math activities.
The Kar Seva Shibir is definitely an experience worth experiencing at least once for all youngsters. It is only when you attend a Shibir such as this, that you realize your true potential and return as a much better disciplined and stress free individual with a fresher outlook to life. At the end of the Shibir, you are left yearning for more such shibirs and that's when you realize that 'No one can attend just one….'