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On Saturday, January 13th, HSS celebrated Makar Samkranti with a bang, in the form of the fifth annual Bala Mela (Childrens’ Fair). The program was held in Keefe Technical High School in Framingham, MA and was attended by over 525 people. Hindus from all over the New England region came together with a great deal of enthusiasm to participate in this event.

Makar Samkranti is the day when the glorious Surya Dev (Sun God) begins his journey into the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun stands for Pratyaksha Brahma – the manifestation of God, who symbolizes the one non-dual Divinity, blessing one and all tirelessly. The correlation of cosmic events with individual life and values is one of the most astounding traits of Hinduism. Makar Samkranti is a celebration of the love among families and neighbors. This festival inspires Hindus to work towards a change for the better in their personal as well as societal life. The days grow longer and remind us of the positive aspects of life, with each rising sun.

The program was a blend of various exciting aspects of the Hindu culture. The evening started off with an enthusiastic Bala Mela in which children enjoyed an array of classic games.  Whether one’s calling was the “Maha Ring Toss” or a game of “Concentration”, they were readily available at stalls run by HSS youth volunteers.  The food, also prepared by volunteers, was delicious. The second half of the program was cultural presentations by children of the various chapters (shakas) of HSS and VHPA (Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America).  There was an assortment of traditional Indian dances, such as the garba, a unique combination of dandiya and yoga chap (lazeme), and many group songs and shlokas.  The program was a brilliant display of grace and culture by children of all ages.

Swami Shantha Ram Ji of Prajna graced the occasion with his presence and spoke about the significance of Samkranti.  He exhorted the audience to take key messages from Hindu scriptures and put them to practice in everyday life.  Shri Balwan Singh Patel, the Sanghchalak (president) of the New England Region for HSS announced the organizational responsibilities for the year.  The program ended with Sangh Prarthana and everyone left with a new inspiration derived from an exciting and memorable event.

Intrigued? This is just a sample of the cultural, religious and intellectual jewels that Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has to offer in its weekly shakhas. In the New England area, there are presently six shakhas - in Shrewsbury, Burlington, Franklin, Westboro, Woburn, MA and Naugatuck, CT.

For more information about HSS and its activities, visit www.hssus.org. Local contact is Shri. Ashwani Garg at (508)635-1610.