The hardest hit during the last 15 weeks of strict lockdown period in New South Wales and especially in Greater Sydney were the children and the younger generation in the multicultural communities.
Known for their activeness, creativity, and active learning the children and the youth were determined to fight the loneliness with innovative ideas and still contribute to the multicultural fabric.
It is with such a resilience and maturity displayed for their ages, the youth wing of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) Sydney organised an Online Children’s Camp 2021 which unravelled another great battle, with the theme “A Journey Through Mahabharata”.
Preparations had begun many months prior for an in-person camp. However, during their challenging work, Sydney went into into an indefinite lockdown.
Staying true with Sydney’s proven spirit of ‘soldiering on,’ the HSS Sydney team pulled through.
A four day in-person camp was re-routed and shortened online sessions were delivered over two days, on the 25th and 26th of September.
Dissecting the sheer length and grandeur of the ancient epic was no easy feat. More than fifty volunteers, with a sizeable amount of youth, put in a magnanimous team effort.
The volunteers included an administrative team, online exercise coordinators, an art and crafts team and volunteers who spent their own money and time to deliver hampers to children across Sydney.
Furthermore, an all-youth team of presenters, from high school to university students, who spent weeks analysing the glorious depths of the Mahabharata, presented the entire epic through the sessions.
The participants, from across different states, also received a booklet with a summary of the Mahabharata and the camp activities.
All this effort came to fruit, and the camp met an overwhelming response with 125 registrations, including children from Canberra, Brisbane, and Newcastle.
Each day of the camp began by engaging attendees with yoga, physical stretches, and innovative games. This followed with presenters who intrigued the young minds into the tales of the Mahabharata.
The entire epic, right from the beginning of the historic Kuru Kingdom to the grand war on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, was summarised over six chronological presentations over the two days.
The last section paved way for the children to showcase their creative abilities, with an arts and craft session where participants created cardboard chariots and painted in shirts.
The coordinators of the camp this year were Ankita & Ameya Suryavanshi in their twenties, though every year new youth volunteers are given the opportunity to lead the camp, under the tutelage of those that have done so earlier.
The two key speakers from the concluding ceremony were Pavan Joshi and Nitin Koriya (General Secretary of HSS Australia). All the participants were truly delighted and enjoyed the camp.
By tapping into physical, educational, and creative activities, the camp provided an all-round experience. Nitin Koriya gave concluding remarks for the virtual camp.
Nitin highlighted that just as the Pandavas chose action over inaction, all the camp volunteers and participants chose to productively spend their time in lockdown immersing themselves in their rich Hindu heritage.
Nitin Koriya also stated that there are good things and dreadful things to be understood from the epic Mahabharata and finally Good always wins over evil.
While “A Journey Through Mahabharata” provided one opportunity to empower children with the knowledge and virtues embedded within Hindu Dharma, the HSS also conducts annual children’s camps where they can come together, make long lasting friendships, and learn about Indic culture and heritage.
These camps also provide young adults with valuable leadership opportunities.
The HSS’s efforts go beyond just the Hindu diaspora. The organisation actively engages in an array of volunteer work for the wider community, including (but not limited to) Clean Up Australia Day, blood drives, donations, charitable works for the COVID crisis and so on.
Across its global footprint spanning thirty-nine countries, the HSS makes sure to give back to all communities, cementing its status as the largest volunteer organisation in the world.
Despite having constant unwarranted attacks on Hinduism, such as the recent Dismantling Global Hindutva conference, the Hindu community organisations such as HSS continue to do selfless work for the community.
Carrying out services for the aid and upliftment of society, motivated by an indomitable will to serve and help society, unperturbed by unprovoked attacks of defamation, is a value embedded within the HSS.
The benefactor of this value may be found in the Mahabharata, as Sri Krishna tells Arjuna during the great battlefield of Kurukshetra “Perform your duty without care for the desire for material pleasures and burn your wants in the fire of divine knowledge.”
The Children’s Camp brought the Indian Epic to Australia and in doing so affirmed the Sanskrit saying of “Vasudhaiva Kutmbakam,” because, the entire world is one big family.
The Indian Telegraph congratulates the HSS Children Camp organisers for their excellent contribution to maintain the core values of the community which is a great asset to their contribution to multicultural Australia.