One of the core aims of the National Hindu Students’ Forum (NHSF) (UK) is to bridge the gap between students and the community. Time and time again, I’ve heard the saying, “today’s youth are tomorrows leaders”, however, I witnessed today’s youth be today’s leaders during the Shat Chandi Maha Yagya at the Shree Geeta Bhawan Mandir, Birmingham between Thursday 29 June 2017 – Sunday 2 July 2017.

Being one of the longest serving Temples in the UK, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of an abode for the divine, with the Mandir being open since 1967. At the time, Hindu’s were migrating to Birmingham and embarking on a journey to the UK to make a better future for themselves and children. In such difficult times, there was a need for a sense of belonging, unity and a place of worship. Year by year, events have expanded and devotees have increased with the Mandir being host to NHSF (UK) bhakti events in the past.

The Shat Chandi Maha Yagya is said to be a ritual that is the remover of obstacles, the embodiment of happiness, prosperity and a time to make sacrifices to seek the blessings of Maa Durga. With the Yagya being performed by people from all walks of life, it was led by Shri Dharamdatt Ji, the head Priest of the Mandir and in the guidance of 21 spiritual scholars.

With such a significant event requires a critical amount of manpower. The Mandir had asked for ‘several volunteers’, little did they know they would end up with in excess of 120 youths from as young as ten years old to prepare, cook and serve meals, clean and tidy the Mandir and serve the community through the duration of the Yagya, with many being present from as early as 7am until the fall of darkness. The sense of pride, belonging and togetherness was immense, a reminder that the younger generations have not forgotten their Dharma, and in fact, continue to serve and protect Hindu Dharma and the community at large.

‘Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah’ – Dharma protects those who protect Dharma.

The service which the youth provided was not forgotten, with each and every volunteer receiving a commemorative pin badge and blessings from the priests as well as the hundreds of members of community who partook in the ceremony or those who just attended to observe. To appreciate and show gratitude to the volunteers, a special Yagya took place where the volunteers could participate and receive blessings, even then, all were present early to help prepare, showing that their dedication towards sewa is significant in their livelihoods.

Whilst we have seen challenges and difficult times in the UK over the last few months, here is a true sign that Hindu Dharma is in safe hands with the devotion and assurance of the volunteers bringing together a remarkable atmosphere and a very successful event.

— Kiran Patel, Former NHSF (UK) Vice President