Report by Pratish Sthankiya
The fifth annual European Shibir was held in Rurberg Germany from the 28th to the 31st March 1997. A parallel Hindu Sevika Samiti Shibir was also held. The camp site was a youth hostel situated on a hill overlooking the lake in Simmerath (near Bonn, western Germany). 193 swayamsevaks and sevikas from 5 countries attended the shibir as follows:
The shibir commenced with traditional lighting of a ‘deepak’ by Shri Ramesh Jain and the introduction of the adhikaris. Dr Piassa, a medical practitioner and President of the Afghani Hindu Culture Society in Germany presided over the camp as the Shibir Sarvadhikari. Shri Ashok Chadha (Bonn) was the Karyawaha with Shri Arun Bhikharie (Amsterdam) and Shri Rohit Ambekar (UK) as Saha Karyawahas. Shri Parul Sharma (Frankfurt) was the Mukhya Shikshak and Dr Anurag Daudia was the Saha Mukhya Shikshak.
The Sanchalan Samiti for Samiti was – Sushree Suhasini Bahety (Frankfurt) as Karyawahika, Dr Vidula Ambekar (UK) as Saha Karyawahika and Sushree Shilpa Chhedda (UK) as Mukhya Shikshika. Dr Sanjiv Oza, European Zone Pracharak, said that this shibir is an example of Sangh in action. Inspired by this message, the camp began in earnest with all participating from the very young to the senior.
In the bauddhiks, Shri Uttam Shah (UK Vistaar Pramukh) and Shri Rohit Ambekar gave the Sangh parichay and Sushree Shilpaben Chhedda and Smt Vidulaji Ambekar gave the Samiti parichay. All spoke on the history of Sangh and its immense growth over the years since 1925. Dr Nawal Prinja (UK Baudhik Pramukh) spoke on the importance and relevance of Hindu traditions in the West, emphasising the need for greater knowledge and understanding of our traditions and rich heritage. The following day, Kum. Anuradha Chadha (Bonn) spoke in German on what sangathan means, followed by Shri Parul Sharma (Frankfurt) who shared his thoughts on why Hindu Sangathan is important. Shri Nilesh Solanki (UK Vistarak) continued the bauddhik on how Hindu Sangathan can be achieved, focusing on Shakha and its process as a “sanskar kendra.” Kum. Janhavi Ambekar (Vistarika and Chair of National Hindu Students Forum UK) concluded on how Hindu Sangathan can be achieved through various karyakrams and through devoting more time for Sangh karya. In the charcha and workshop sessions, discussions took place to clarify issues raised during the bauddhiks. It was useful because many swayamsevaks had attended Sangh shakha the first time.
A healthy mixture of shareerik and Bharateeya khel helped instil, develop and apply the sanskars and qualities which emerged from the bauddhiks, charchas and workshops. The spirit of the camp was epitomised on the final day in the kabaddi competition as one could see the passion and commitment of the swayamsevaks who three days ago were total strangers.
A special shareerik varg was held during the shibir for a selected group of potentially active swayamsevaks from mainland Europe. The varg concentrated on Achaar Vibhaag (taking shakha) and basic samata (orders), so that the swayamsevaks can start and conduct shakhas in their respective nagars (cities).
In the samarop programme, the Shibir Karyawaha, Shri Ashok Chadha presented a report of the Sangh shibir highlights and expressed with confidence that shakhas will start in Bonn and Koln. Smt. Suhasini Bahety also presented a report of the Samiti shibir, mentioning that new sevikas expressed a positive point saying that the shibir was a “strange” experience. Dr Piassa urged all participants to spread the message of bhaichara (brotherhood), ekata (unity) and prembhav (love and affection).
A Manoranjan Karyakram took place on the evening of March 30th. Various programmes from Magic show, Geet, Nrutya, etc. proved that the Hindu youths in the West have skills and talents beyond mere academic excellence. The talent in the youth needs to be harnessed so that the Sangh Karya can utilise this talent in organising and uniting the Hindus in mainland Europe.
Germany has experienced the exodus of Hindus from Afghanistan. A strong group of Hindus from Afghanistan have settled in Koln. The “Sangh Sandesh” team heard experiences of these Hindu brothers. Their story is very inspiring for all Hindus as the Afghan Hindus have proven the need of having Hindu Sanskar Kendras in the form of Mandirs. They have built 5 new Mandirs in a short duration of 5-6 years. Thus the theme of the shibir “Swayameva Mrugendrataa” is not merely a slogan, but a living reality for Hindus. Concluding the Samarop function, Shri Rohit Ambekar spoke of the persecution of Hindutva and the great sacrifices of those who defended it through the ages; and how it is our duty to such heroes and heroines that we carry Hindutva into the next millennium. Sangh , with its emphasis on man-making and all round character building is the medium through which this can be achieved.
A special souvenir “Uttishtha Jagrit Prapyavarannibodhat” was released. The souvenir contains various articles on Hindu history. The shibir drew to a close on an emotional note where the swayamsevaks and sevikas felt part of a wider parivar which they did not want to leave and will always remember.
During the course of the shibir, organisational baithaks took place, where future plans and the co-ordination of Sangh and Samiti activities were discussed. Hindu community leaders from Bonn visited the shibir and were impressed with the discipline and the self motivation factor. The caretaker of the youth hostel, Mr. Becker, praised the event, saying that German youths have a lot to learn from us. He invited them to come every year. He left with a very good impression which could only have been created by the dedication and commitment of swayamsevaks and sevikas working for Hindu Sangathan.