14 Aug 2015

Summer Youth Sangha - Part 1

The first Summer Sangha ever was put on last week by Bhakti Marga. The program focused on getting to know Bhakti Marga, the path of devotion, and on connecting kids to support one another in their spiritual paths.

The Summer Sangha had an active week. Kids from around the world jumped into a wide variety of activities, all focused on learning the forms of Bhakti in practical ways: seva, art and music classes, puja courses, study sessions with Rishi Nikhilananda, and more. It was an amazing opportunity for us to connect with each other, with the residents, and with Bhakti Marga as a mission. We left behind our "normal lives" for a time, and were able to let go and just love.

The first few days were really about getting to know about the path of bhakti, the ashram (Shree Peetha Nilaya) and meeting people. Some of our favorite pastimes here, kirtan and seva, were a main focus the first several days.

Day 1: Introductions

Swami Anashuya gave an overview of the week's proceedings while the youth get familiarized.

A surprise visit by Sri Swami Vishwananda provided the opportunity to meet and greet the sangha! One of the guests asked Guruji about the possibility for Darshan, which he agreed to do with one condition, the sangha had to sing and play music the whole time!

Guruji introduced some kirtan to the group.

The ashram's Seva leaders greeted the sangha.

Day 2: Mantra Project, Padaseva/Dasya Bhakti, and Shravana/Kirtana Bhakti Class

Everyone got to experience Padaseva and Dasya Bhakti, or, helping others and serving the Lord through Seva, selfless service. We practiced focusing on God throughout the entire day and  dedicating our work to Him.

Who says work can't be fun?! Embracing service for the Lord can change chores into joyous devotion.

After some hard work, Mira, Chatur, and Aaradhaka taught us about Kirtana and Shravana Bhakti.  The kids listened to stories about dance, singing, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. We were taught about how the names of God are one and the same. The vibration of Divine names are pure and elevates our own vibrations to their level. Many noted that they experienced the power of the Divine name. This gaves us perspective on why Guruji wants us to sing and play during Darshan. One guest mentioned:
 "I learned so much about the bhajans and the spiritual music that we play here-what spiritual music does to you: the frequencies and how important they are."

Kirtan and dancing around a fire warmed up the crowd to a wild night of festivities.

The group enjoyed singing and dancing around fires, especially when Guruji came to join in the fun.

Day 3: Team Building, OM Chanting, and History of Bhakti Marga,

For fun, the leaders gave the kids some karaoke and charades challenges! This helped us get comfortable in front of a crowd too!

Small groups had only a little time to prepare a song to sing in front of the rest of the summer sangha.

The sangha let loose as they enjoy karaoke!

Rishi Nikhilananda gave a lesson on the story of Bhakti Marga. Here, he shows the evolution of the logo.

An OM Chanting circle took place after kirtan.

The sangha embraced the experience of the ashram in many forms: the environment, lessons, singing and dancing, stories about the Divine, movies about saints, and seeing the lifestyles of monks and nuns here at Shree Peetha Nilaya.  The Summer Sangha made connections between kids to support each other's growth on the path of spirituality. One person remarked: 
"I feel that the people who have been here are different than people at home, in Italy, and in other places. The people are here because something has caught them. It is not causality that I met these people. I have very good feelings from them."
Another said:
"The thing I like a lot about this week is about the people I have met. There are a lot of people my age that are really good people. That’s what I loved, meeting the people."
 The first three days of the week were exciting and really beneficial for uniting us spiritual kids, finding Love in all things, and singing the Divine Names. There are more things to come about the rest of the week, so stay connected!