HSS organizes Balasangam 2011 a grand unique event for children.
The word “Balasangam” is a compound word made up of “Bala” or young children and “Sangam” meaning confluence. Balasangam 2011 was organized by HSS (Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh) on Saturday, May 21 st in DeAnza College from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. so children of up to 8th grade living in South Bay Area could come together, showcase their talents, have lot of fun and learn few aspects of Hindu Dharma. It turned out to be a fun filled cultural and entertainment event that also gave an opportunity for children to learn about Hindu Dharma and Vedic
Balasangam included competitions in Speech (English as well as Indian Languages), Shloka recitation, group dance (Indian classical and non-classical) and art. Children could take part in any or all of these contests by registering for the contest of their choice. The response to all the contests was so overwhelming that the organizers had to stop the required pre-registration for the contests a week before the actual event. There were fun games, face painting, magic and puppet show giving the event a festive atmosphere. To top it all children also had an opportunity to learn tricks from Vedic Math – ancient Indian method of solving many Math problems mentally.
The event was attended by 450 children and 450 adults. After the inauguration of the event at 1 p.m. by Vasuvaj Easwaramangalam - Program Director and International Coordinator for Samskrita Bharati, children proceeded to the areas of their interest. There were many parallel activities that ran till 5 p.m. including the various contests, fun games, face paintings, balloons, magic show and Vedic Math tutoring. For the group dance contest, there were 3 age groups and 2 categories (Indian classical such as Bharatnatyam, Kathak and Odissi as well as non-classical such as bhangra, puppet show dance, gondhal, garba and fusion of various folk songs). A total of 25 groups including 7 in classical and 18 in non-classical category performed during the event. It was wonderful to see children dressed up in various costumes and performing to the tunes of their selected music with gusto. They were enthusiastically cheered by the audience.
Meanwhile, there were 3 other contests that were taking place simultaneously. The Speech contest, which had 2 groups (grade 5 and below and grade 6 though 8) and 2 categories (English and Indian Languages - Samskrit, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Oriya, Telugu and other languages selected by the participants). A total of 50 children delivered fluent speeches on topics such as their favorite Indian freedom fighter, Indian Saint and personality from the Ramayan and Mahabharat. It was a memorable experience for the children as they got a taste of public speaking in Balasangam. The shloka recitation competition which had 4 groups with a total of 125 participants saw a stunning rendition of verses and explanation of the meaning from Bhagvad-Gita, Patanjali’s Yogasutra and other Hindu scriptures by the children. Art contest also attracted huge response with 50 participants showing their talent. Twenty independent judges were involved in evaluating all the contests.
Balasangam had so many activities that children were seen running from one to the other with great enthusiasm. If they were done with participation in the contests, they were seen painting their faces, lining up to play many of the fun games or grabbing their favorite Indian snacks – mouth watering bhel, samosa and magno ice cream. There were a total of 13 fun games conducted by HSS volunteers from San Jose State University based on Hindu theme, Indian Geography and stories from Hindu scriptures. The children also enjoyed the magic and puppet show performed by two children volunteers.
In order for the children to get a glimpse of the Vedic heritage, Balasangam also included sessions on Vedic Math. Many children, who would never want to attend a Math class outside their school joined the sessions, and leaned many tricks from Vedic Math. The response from the children as well as the parents for Vedic Math was so overwhelming that many parents expressed desire to learn Vedic Math themselves. The program concluded with a mesmerizing skit on “Vande Mataram” by children, a brief presentation on weekly activities conducted by Balagokulam, and prize distribution. The chief guest of the event, Satya Kalra, founder of Path to Anandam-Blissful Living was thankful to HSS for organizing such an event. In her speech, she said, “Education without Dharma can't build character” and encouraged parents to be part of the process. Incidentally, HSS has been teaching the Dharmic values through their balagokulams and their weekly gatherings which cater to all family members – children and parents alike.
The success of the event could easily be gauged by the happiness on children’s faces and reaction of the parents. Many parents expressed their deep gratitude towards HSS for organizing an event that let the children participate in various contests, have fun and also learn about the culture thereby making them great ambassadors of values taught by Hindu heritage, and also hoped for similar events in future.
HSS (www.hssus.org) was supported for this grand event by many other organizations such as Samskrita Bharati (www.samskritabharati.org/), Ekal Vidyalya (www.ekal.org/), Sewa International (www.sewausa.org/), ICCS, Balagokulam magazine (www.balagokulam.org/bgmag) and Yoga Bharati (http://www.yogabharati.org/).
The event was sponsored by Lekha Publishers (www.lekhapublishers.com) and US Auto collision center (www.usautobodypaint.com), United Day Care Program (www.udcprograms.com) and Tulip After School Program (www.tulipafterschool.com/). Sheer dedication, hard work and passion of forty HSS volunteers made Balasangam an event for everyone to remember.
HSS, a voluntary, non-profit, social and cultural organization aims to organize the Hindu community in order to preserve, practice and promote Hindu ideals and values. HSS conducts structured programs of regular athletic and academic activities to develop strong character and leadership skills in its members, emphasizing values such as self-discipline, self-confidence and a spirit of selfless service for humanity.