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SAYLORSBURG, PA, March 10, 2013 – In the midst of the natural beauty and serenity of Saylorsburg, PA, over fifty enthusiastic women gathered at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam for the weekend from Mar. 8 to Mar. 10.  Home makers, stay at home moms and career oriented women from Massachusetts to Washington, DC came together for an invigorating two day Sevika Varg. The camp was organized by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) to provide a platform for socially active Hindu women to explore ways to spread Hindu values to the youth, while addressing societal problems faced in this country. The participants shared experiences, learned from each other in a fun way, and came out of the camp with something to take back to their respective home towns.

Most of the participants came on Friday night so they could register on Saturday morning and get started with the activities by 9am. The activities included yoga, workshops, discussions, team-building games and songs. The participants were very fortunate to hear  Sri Swami Pratyagbodhananda, a learned scholar visiting from India deliver a message on the important role women play in balancing family life. Even though the activities continued until late at night, there was never a lapse in the enthusiasm of the participants. The highlight was ratri karyakaram when each member was supposed to present a skit on an assigned topic, which was given to them before lunch and were given 20 minutes to put it together. The theme of the camp, the role of Hindu women in today’s global renaissance could be felt through the energetic, vibrant atmosphere and the motivational lyrics of the camp song, “Kadam kadam badhaye ja, sadhana ki raaha par, tyaag ki mashaal le, zindagi ki thaaha par.”

In another well-received session, Dr. Sai Patil of New York, urged the women to list their daily activities to figure out the me time they have each day and to sincerely set it aside to help focus on the right priorities. Preeti, a participant from New Jersey, said that it was inspiring to see so many dedicated and committed women together in one place. “The camp was a great learning experience and gave me an opportunity to meet and work with other women from North East USA.”

The presence of Mr. Rudra Upadhayay, New York Karyavah, added a wealth of experience and guidance for the camp participants. Addressing the women as respect commanders, Mr. Upadhayay encouraged them to be crisp and commanding when taking shakha to bring discipline and commitment in youth.

Inspite of the late night on Saturday and day light savings time to skip an hour there was enthusiasm at 6am on Sunday to kick the day with chanting and yoga. This was followed by Dr.Shruti Mankad leading the group to learn Yogchaap also called lezim in a very disciplined and musical way. This was followed by anubhav kathan, wherein a representative from each vibhag got to share their views on their experience at the varg. “This was one of the experiences where I did not realize how much I was learning because it was a fun environment and hope to bring it back to our shakhas,” said Chitra from West Chester, PA.

To wrap up the varg, Mr. Santosh Prabhu, East coast pracharak of HSS, gave an   inspirational speech to the participants, combining his personal experiences and stories from Hindu history. The speech motivated the sevikas to be active in their local communities and contribute to the Hindu cause by running successful shakhas and passing on Hindu values to the next generation.

Though many of the participants were meeting each other for the first time, a strong sense of camaraderie permeated the campsite. “By the end of the camp, we all got each others contact information to stay in touch with each other and see how each of us is implementing what we learnt at the varg.” said Hema a sevika from Pennyslvannia “We experienced first-hand how to motivate each other and hope to see the results by spreading the motivation around back to our local communities.”

The camp successfully achieved its goal of networking and motivating Hindu women leaders. Everyone left with strong friendships, pride in their cultural heritage, and renewed enthusiasm to strengthen Hindu activities in their local communities.