Hindu Youth Festival 2001
The Hindu Youth Festival was an 11-day event held at Roundwood Park in Harlesden, London, from the 26th of July till the 5th of August 2001. It provided an opportunity for youth to participate in learning about, exploring and expressing their culture and faith. It involved a week of vibrant activities and events drawn from the rich Indian culture and spiritual Hindu heritage.
For many years, various Hindu Youth groups in the UK, on a frequent basis, have organised successful events celebrating and displaying the rich Indian culture and Hindu heritage. From educational activities, such as lectures and seminars, to fun and entertaining events such as carnivals and mela’s have succeeded in attracting Hindu Youth and giving them the opportunity to share in this richness. However, there had never been one where the Youth of ALL the major Hindu organisations have worked together to create an experience catered especially for the Youth.
The Hindu Youth Festival 2001 allowed Hindu Youth to learn about and celebrate their Hindu identity. It was an attempt to build bridges between the various active Youth groups throughout the country from various backgrounds, communities and religious beliefs (or sampradayas).
It was an attempt to bring the Youth together and try to understand the different facets of the jewel the Hindu Youth have inherited. It was a thought-provoking insight into the Hindu Dharma: its history and its revelations; to discover what it has offered to the world and what it can still offer in the future.
It was an opportunity for all to learn and ask about social issues that affect Youth of today, which had never been discussed on a spiritual platform before.
It was also for some fun and enjoyment!
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS) felt there was a need to inform the Youth of the opportunities they were able to provide in Oxford. The centre decided this would be best achieved through a much-needed Youth Festival, and hence, with the support of Sanskruti Foundation UK, became the host of the 11-day event. Support from the major temples and Hindu organisations led to a Press Launch held at the Shree Swaminarayan Hindu Temple in Neasden in April 2001.
From the very start, Youth groups began taking an interest in the planning of the event, and spent the next four months in creating the ‘experience’ that the event was.
The focus of the event would nine evenings of Special Activities organised and performed by 22 different Youth organisations. These included, drama’s and play’s, lectures, multi-media presentations, question-answer sessions, music, art and dance, debates, displays and demonstrations. These activities took place in a sequence that resembled a summary of the historical ‘Evolution of Hinduism.’
To facilitate the Youth festival, the famous saints Bhaishri Rameshbhai Oza agreed to visit the UK and render a Shrimad Bhagavat katha in Hindi. In addition, for the first time in the UK, a Mahavishnu Yagna was held.
For the first time Youth were given the chance to plan, organise and implement a festival of this scale. Youth were responsible for the publicity and marketing of the event, which resulted in the event receiving much Publicity and media attention due to the scale and uniqueness of the event.
Youth applied their technical expertise in creating this website, and used their administrative skills in Fund-raising for the event. Youth developed ideas for the evening activities as well as managing the stage and Roundwood Park festival grounds.
A special Souvenir Magazine was produced for the festival that contained many articles contributed by Hindu Youth in the country. The entire production of the souvenir was a mammoth task completed by Youth in a mere 12 days.
Under the academic umbrella of OCHS, that is non-sectarian and non-political, the festival received Messages of Support and encouragement from Saints, Royalty, MP’s and other prominent dignitaries.
- 23 groups participated in the event from spiritual, cultural, community-based, and university-based organisations.
- The event was attended by an astonishing 50,000 people over two days.
- The opening ceremony was attended by respected leaders in the community, media representatives and prominent saints from India.
- It took 6 months of planning, 3 big meetings, and 15 weekly meetings.
- Over 100 volunteers participated in the event from start to finish.
- It took 4 full day to set-up ….. and 1 day to break down!
- The event was funded totally by the generosity of the Hindu community.
Here are some photos from the Hindu Youth Festival. Click on the thumbnail to get a larger version.
I wish you every success in your Hindu Youth Festival. London is a dynamic multi-cultural city with many faiths. It has a strong presence of Hindu faith community with many colourful festivals. I am sure your festival will contribute to this richness.
Mayor of London
I welcome the Hindu Youth Festival 2001. It is designed to celebrate our culture and traditions based upon our religious values. These have stood the test of time for centuries and will continue to do so for generations to come. How appropriate that Hindu Youth in Britain will celebrate the event which will help further strengthen our beliefs and values.
Lord Navnit Dholakia MP
President, Liberal Democrat Party
The Hindu Community in Britain makes an outstanding contribution to the economic, social and cultural diversity of the United Kingdom. Festivals and events such as this one play an essential role in explaining the importance of faith, traditions and culture in our lives enriching the society we live in.
The Hindu community’s commitment to the family, education, responsibility to others, hard work and tolerance are values which resonate with all our citizens in every part of the country. Your pride in history and tradition ensures that your beliefs and identity will never be diminished.
Best wishes to all organisers and participants on a very successful festival.
William Hague MP
The Himalayas have great height, but no depth. The ocean has great depth but no height. Hinduism combines the lofty ideals of the Himalayas and the depths of the ocean.
The Hindu Faith and the people who follow that Faith are made great by the ideals of love, sacrifice and surrender, as well as the great height of dedication and the immense depth of spirituality.
As a result of this Festival all of society will become aware and aspire towards this great Faith which believes the world as one family.
Bhaishri Rameshbhai Oza
I most heartily congratulate you and all those concerned in organising the forthcoming Hindu Youth Festival. We sincerely hope that it shall awaken the spirit of the Hindu Youth and create awareness of our rich religious and cultural heritage. I sincerely hope that the divine experience gained at the festival by all participants shall enable them, not only to appreciate their own faith, but also inspire them with courage to respect and admire people of other faiths too.
May almighty supreme God Shri Swaminarayan bless this festival with His grace.
With blessings and Jai Shri Swaminarayan,
HH Acharya Shri Tejendraprasadji Pande
International Swaminarayan Sanstha Organisation
Dear Divine Souls,
It is so wonderful that the dedicated youth of London have come together in order to bring this Hindu Youth Festival to fruition. They are giving a great gift to the youth, to the adults, to the elderly, to the Indians and to the Europeans. Bringing the wisdom of Indian culture to the people of London in a medium that will be appealing and comprehensible to people of all ages and from all walks of life is a formidable task; they have succeeded beautifully. I know that this festival will be uplifting, inspiring and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all who attend.
I am so proud of these divine youth, and the divine adults who are assisting them. Their piety, commitment and devotion to the preservation and dissemination of Indian culture is truly beautiful and commendable. I wish that we had youth with this much fervour and this much efficiency all across the globe. Then, Festivals like this could blossom like divine flowers in the garden of Earth.
May God bless them in their divine efforts so that this HYF can serve as the first of many such programs.
With love and blessings.
In the service of God and humanity,
H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji
Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh
I am very happy to know that young Hindus are organising a great “Hindu Youth Festival 2001”.
Had Swami Vivekananda been here he would have rejoiced immensely. It is time Hindus, especially the youth, recognised the invaluable treasure they inherited from the Rishis, the founders of the “Sanathana Dharma”. This Festival, I am sure, will provide a grand opportunity for learning the truth about Hinduism.
I pray to Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda to make this programme a great success.
Swami Vivekananda has said, "The best guide in life is strength. In religion, as in all matters, discard everything that weakens you, have nothing to do with it."
With prayers and best wishes and namaskarams.
H.H. Swami Dayatmananda
Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre UK
Youth of today, you are the future of the world.
A gross materialistic outlook is alluring everyone with the false promise of prosperity and joy. Please become their saviour; show them the way out of that desert and usher them into the oasis of true happiness and prosperity.
Spiritual reality is the Absolute Truth. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the centre of that reality. Please try to recognise Him as your dear-most friend and Supreme well-wisher. The wise of the past have given us relevant information about Him. Following their footsteps, we also can approach Him and re-establish our lost relationship with Him. Religion is the science to understand The Lord. He is waiting for us to go back to Him and in course of our journey, he wants us to carry along with us those who have lost their way.
You have inherited an inconceivable wealth - a pot of nectar that can bestow eternal life. Pick up that pot and distribute it to the world around you as an expression of love and concern. Lead the world with confidence and re-establish the kingdom of God on earth. Those who care for the welfare of this world are looking up to you with great expectation.
You are their hope and confidence.
H.H. Bhakti Caru Swami
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
I am very happy that you have gathered together for this spiritual festival.
India is the spiritual capital of the world, and the gift of India is its Vedic heritage. You are now living in the UK, but material success, and an increasing acceptance in the fabric of British culture is not mark of personal success if it means sacrificing your spiritual heritage.
You must endeavour to maintain and practice the principles laid down in the Bhagavad Gita such as sense control, devotion and purity. Maintain vegetarian eating habits, shun intoxicants, be chaste, and cultivate knowledge of God. Otherwise you will be Hindu in name alone, and sink into spiritual and moral oblivion. Hindu is not the colour of skin, or the country of your ancestors. Hindu means those who live by Dharma. To live by Dharma, you must know it. To know Dharma, you must learn it. To learn it, you must make an effort.
The Krsna Consciousness movement is meant to help you learn the Dharma of the Vedas as summarised in the Gita. One of the most important spiritual practices of this age is to chant the Hare Krsna maha mantra.
I remain your ever well-wisher
HH. Sivarama Swami
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
It was indeed a great pleasure to know that you have organised the “Hindu Youth Festival”. This Festival has been organised with the purpose of instilling pride of Hindu Culture in the youth residing in the UK as well as awakening love for India, developing affection for Dharma and awakening family values. May that noble purpose be fulfilled. May you all develop unity, oneness, mutual affection and co-operation.
Hearty Congratulations to the organisers.
We pray for the success of the programme.
HH Shastri Narayanswarupdas (Pramukh Swami Maharaj)
Bochasanwasi Shree Aksharpurshottam Sanstha
I have no words to express my love for such noble work of the youngsters in organising this Hindu Youth Festival and Bhagwat Katha. It will be an opportunity for the world to learn the real secret charms of Hindu Culture.
All projects taken on with the true welfare of the world in mind will be successful. Nothing is impossible when there is dedication and devotion.
I wish I could be present at the Festival in person, please accept my best wishes and good thoughts.
Jai Sri Krishna.
H.H. Param Pujya Sri Krishna Shankar Shastriji
Sri Bhagwat Vidhyapith Trust, Ahmedabad, India
To the youth I would say:
Live a simple life.
Strive to be pure in thought, word and deed.
Practise silence everyday.
Smile as often as you can.
Do your duty.
And help as many as you can, to lift the load on the rough road of life.
The day on which I have not helped someone in need – a brother here, a sister there, a bird here, an animal there – is a lost day indeed.
Young men and women of the Hindu Faith! Never forget that the blood of the Hindi Rishis and Sages and Saints courses through your veins. You belong to a religion which is the hope of a world which is madly rushing from danger to destruction.
Be proud of the fact that you are a Hindu! And in humility move out to share the treasures that are your rich heritage as children of the Rishis.
H.H. Dada J P Vaswani
Sadhu Vaswani Organisation
Today’s young people are the future.
Within their wisdom, love, courage and enthusiasm lies the potential for a better world. You, as young people, deserve all the nurture, good company and handing on of experience that we, who are older can give. I remember, as a young child, over 80 years ago, in Sind (then northern India) my education was from the scriptures and our home had an environment of deep devotional faith. In my early twenties I came to know Brahma Baba, the Founder of the Brahma Kumaris and chose a life dedicated to God and the task of creating a better world on the earth. Young people today tell me about their stress, worries and family problems. I say to them that it is so easy to be free from these tensions and experience true self respect and dignity. A few moments of silence each day reminds us of who we are, of our purpose in life and of the deep peace within, it reminds us that we are God’s children and it reminds us that our task is to live with others with respect, tolerance, dignity and trust.
I know that the Hindu Youth Festival will be a spiritual beacon for all youth in our communities. I wish it all success and know that through the festival, with God’s help, many will find the happiness, peace and love that is so essential to human life.
In remembrance of God, the Ocean of Peace and Love,
H.H. BK Dadi Janki
Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University
I am happy that the Hindu Youth of UK are coordinating the Hindu Youth Festival in London. Regarding the many Hindu groups congregating on the occasion, Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda once said, “The only factor that can bring us all together is our respect for and reverence to our distinct culture The dissemination of the fundamental ideas of our culture is, therefore, imperative in the context of our fast collapsing present day history.”
Culture is meant for refining our baser urges. Hindu Vedic culture gives man unique techniques to grow from being a praakrut purusha (man of instincts and urges) or a vikrut purusha (one of perversion) to a sanskrut purusha (one of refinement).
Though you may be Hindus born there, never forget your roots because you will be identified only as Indian, whatever you may call yourself or the lifestyle you may lead. Chinmaya Yuva Kendra, the youth wing of Chinmaya Mission has done yeomen service to our culture for 25 years.
The message to youth is : Think big, act wisely and show results!
Best regards to Sri. Rameshbhai Oza for his laudable effort in spreading the message of the Bhagawatam. I invoke the blessings of Lord Krishna and Pujya Gurudev on him and all of you.
HH Swami Tejomayananda
Worldwide Head, Chinmaya Mission