Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA - An introduction
The uniqueness of Hindu Dharma and the culture as practiced by the Hindu community has a significant contribution to make for the benefit of humanity. It is therefore essential for Hindus living in America to develop unity and harmony in their community to effectively promote these salient features. There are around two million Hindus in the US. Their contributions to the economic, social and cultural life is widely acclaimed.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) USA is a voluntary, non-profit, social and cultural organization(1). Sangh, as the organization is popularly known, 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 (known as swayamsevaks for men and sevikas for women), emphasizing values such as self-discipline, self-confidence and a spirit of selfless service (seva) for humanity. We encourage maintaining Hindu cultural identity in harmony with the larger community.
Sangh is inspired by the idea that the whole world is one family and conducts activities across the United States in order to spread this message widely. Sangh in the United States started in 1989 and today has over 140 weekly meeting centers (shakhas) across the country.
Each chapter of HSS is known as Shakha - a weekly program for the entire family. While the kids enjoy learning in the balagokulam, youth and adults also participate in activities such as games, songs, discussions, and lectures on Hindu culture. We strongly emphasize the physical, intellectual and spiritual growth of each individual and also promote a sense of discipline.
In order to promote spiritual growth, a sense of unity with the environment and general well being, yoga is an important part of the shakha program.
There are a variety of games, including kabaddi and kho-kho, that are played in shakha. The games enhance our ability to work as a team, our stamina, our physical strength or even our strategic skills. These games bring about a spirit of cooperation and create a light, free atmosphere in shakha.
Children's program in the shakha is called Balagokulam. In the Balagokulams, children learn about their Hindu heritage. They have fun playing games with the other kids. A strong emphasis is also laid on developing leadership qualities and becoming confident representatives of Hindu Dharma.
A well-structured syllabus for different age groups is used at the Balagokulams. In addition, a detailed teacher's training guide has been prepared which can be used by adults that are interested in conducting Balagokulams in their local community.
As part of the Balagokulam activities, HSS publishes a quarterly magazine where children contribute much of the content. The magazine includes articles, poems, paintings, crossword puzzles, stories, and plenty more! Each age group has a contest for each section, and a team of volunteers picks the best items to publish. The magazine does an extraordinary job of informing children about our Hindu heritage in a language that they can understand.
If you have children or know of any kids who are interested in getting their work published in the Balagokulam magazine, have them visit the Balagokulam website and register for the contest!
Within two years of its launch, the magazine has more than 2500 subscribers which speak of its popularity among the kids. International subscriptions are available in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
The Balagokulam (http://www.balagokulam.org/) website was also rated as the "Best Hindu Children's Website in America" by HinduNet.
Bouddhik includes lectures, interactive workshops, discussions, songs(geet) and seminars which enhance intellectual development while helping to increase cultural awareness and improve communication skills.