Sanskriti Prachaar Shibir, December 2011

Originally known as the ‘Sanskriti Parichay Shibir’, where Parichay means introduction, the Shibir was later renamed as ‘Sanskriti Prachaar Shibir’ designed with an aim to ‘spread’ awareness or enable ‘prachaar’ of our glorious culture, samskaras and revered Guruparampara, amongst the community’s Yuva Peedhi.

Sanskriti Prachaar Shibir, December 2011

Reported by: Tanvi Amladi and Manali Bijur

Originally known as the ‘Sanskriti Parichay Shibir’, where Parichay means introduction, the Shibir was later renamed as ‘Sanskriti Prachaar Shibir’ designed with an aim to ‘spread’ awareness or enable ‘prachaar’ of our glorious culture, samskaras and revered Guruparampara, amongst the community’s Yuva Peedhi. We speak on behalf of each and every Shibirarthi when we say that this year’s Sanskriti Prachaar Shibir lived up to its name and every activity unfailingly taught us so many new things about our rich Chitrapur Saraswat culture, reinforced what we already knew, and reminded us that we have so much to be proud of as Chitrapur Saraswats. All this, in addition to valuable life lessons derived from the eclectic mix of sessions, made the entire experience one that we will cherish always.

The Shibir was conducted at the ‘Maitreya Shibir Parisar’ at Khanapur (22 kms. from Pune), managed by the loving and hospitable Sonawane family, who took care of our every requirement. The Shibir spanned across five days, from the 24th to the 29th of December. The first day consisted of pitching our own tents, being organised into our tolis (named after four sacred flowers: Japakusum, Parijat, Kamal and Champak), an innovative ice-breaker session, through song and dance, and a briefing by Heblekar Kutty-maam about the general schedule for the rest of the days. Wake-up calls at five-thirty a.m. in the biting cold, though a formidable prospect for most of us, were adhered to obediently by the Shibirarthis.

The outdoor activities conducted at the Sanskriti Prachaar Shibir presented the Shibirarthis with a perfect blend of fun, learning and a sense of oneness with nature. These outdoor sessions, which took place every morning after an invigorating exercise session conducted by Panemangalore Priti-pachchi, were eagerly awaited by every Shibirarthi.

One such game required the Shibirarthis and their designated groups, to cross from one point to another with the help of only three barrels and two planks. Challenges like these taught us valuable lessons about teamwork, responsibility, how one can emerge as a leader as well as how one should be a good follower in pressure situations. After every outdoor activity, we dwelt upon our performance over a juice and fruit break. During these sessions, the Sanchalaks prompted us to analyse how we had dealt with the given situation and how the lessons learned through the activity could possibly relate to our daily lives.

The blind and mute walk game was an interesting experience for everyone. The Shibirarthis were divided into pairs, wherein one person was blindfolded and the other was not allowed to talk, and taken out for a walk nearby. This activity, which required the “mute” to lead the “blind”, made us empathetic towards the difficulties faced by the physically challenged. Furthermore, the importance of the other senses and the fact that we tend to take them for granted was highlighted through this activity.

The Ashtamurti Upasana was a very fulfilling experience for every shibirarthi and more so for those participating in it for the first time. Although we could not have the privilege of being guided by Parama Pujya Swamiji personally, as is often done, the Sanchalaks arranged to play the Ashtamurti Upasana CD, narrated by Pujya Swamiji Himself, at a picturesque location outside the shibir site.

During the week, there were 3 highly informative sessions about our glorious Guruparampara. The first session had Heblekar Vaishali-pachchi narrating it from its inception to the reign of H.H. Krishnashram Swamiji. The next day, the 4 tolis took over and presented to each other the remaining Guruparampara, enumerating legends of H.H. Pandurangashram Swamiji, H.H. Anandashram Swamiji, H.H. Parijnanashram Swamiji and H.H. Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji. Following this, Puthli Jaya-pachchi and Kallianpur Chinmay-maam conducted a quiz on our Guruparampara.

Each of us had also received a copy of “Paadaprakshalan to Phalamantrakshat” written by Dharmaprachaarak, Shri Vittal Rajgopal Bhat-maam, along with a question slip. The questions spanned the entire contents of the book. On the designated day, Chandavarkar Kalpana-pachchi facilitated a session in which each Shibirarthi explained the answers to the questions from the slip to the others. The answers were reflective of their understanding of the concept and were a unique way of exposing us to terms like Dhulbhet and Mantrajapa.

Another session by Udiyavar Vinati-pachchi introduced us to the Math administration and updated us about the various projects undertaken under its honourable aegis. This made us aware of the untiring efforts of the Math and its volunteers to uplift the villages around Chitrapur. We also had discussions about how we, as yuvas, can contribute to these projects in our own small way.

An indoor session, which included games, focussed primarily on target-setting. It certainly ignited our competitive spirit and nurtured healthy competition among us. Kallianpur Chinmay-maam led a vimarsh on a very potent shloka that called upon the Almighty to grant us the strength to rise above petty insecurities and to overcome fear. The Vimarsh was extremely fruitful and brought many interesting points to light. Like every Vimarsh, the thinking process did not end there and every Shibirarthi took away a lot more to ponder about.

'Expression through dance', a beautiful session conducted by Heblekar Rupali-pachchi, helped us to let go of our inhibitions and realise that music is an effective and divine medium of expression. It taught us how to express effectively using different parts of our body like facial expressions, voice modulation and hand gestures.

‘Konkani Gammati’ conducted by Udiyavar Vinati-Pachi was designed to improve our knowledge of the Konkani culture and language. One interesting activity required each Toli to identify the festival depicted in the picture given to them as well as to identify the traditional Amchi delicacies prepared during these festivals. Being well versed with our language and culture is extremely important for every Chitrapur Saraswat and this was highlighted through the ‘Konkani Gammati’ session.

In the evenings, the cold mountain air reverberated with our chants of various shlokas, bhajans and stotras. On one occasion, we were introduced to Dhyan Praveshika, which was a rejuvenating and divine experience for all.

On the final night, the Sanchalaks organised a campfire, where some Shibirarthis stepped up to showcase their multitude of talents to the group. It was an enjoyable night and marked a fitting end to the entire experience. The camaraderie that the Shibirarthis shared, amongst themselves and with the Sanchalaks, was unmistakable.

On the 29th of December, the Shibirarthis had an interaction with Parama Pujya Swamiji, wherein Swamiji expressed a desire to see more active participation among the yuvas in Yuvadhara.

The sessions were designed to encourage us to delve within ourselves, recognise our strengths, accept and overcome our weaknesses and grow stronger as individuals. Also stressed upon was the importance of leadership.

On behalf of all the Shibirathis, we would like to express our thanks and heartfelt appreciation to all the Sanchalaks; viz., Heblekar Krishnanand-maam (Kutty-maam), Udiyavar Vinati-pachchi, Panemangalore Priti-pachchi, Chandavarkar Kalpana-pachchi, Savkur Mamata-pachchi and Puthli Jaya-pachchi; and Upa-Sanchalaks Chandavarkar Kishn-maam and Kallianpur Chinmay-maam.