The NHSF (UK) Yatra was a life-changing experience – one I will never forget. Having attended both Yatras, in the heavy rains in the hills of the Peak District and along the rolling cliffs of the South Downs: I was certainly challenged, both physically and mentally. Having fought through the fears of trekking in the dark of the night, and battled through the adversities of hot and cold posed by Mother Nature, it’s safe to say I’ve emerged a more resilient self.
What made it all worthwhile were the two moments when we came to our first pause – of sitting together and doing Puja of the Murtis we took with us.
Up to the Peak District from starting in the middle of the night and experiencing adverse weather conditions in the Peak District. However, there were a few standout moments for me and nothing which can compare to how I felt in these moments: seeing Shiva Bhagwan’s murti placed at the top of Mam Tor, Saraswati Maa on one of the Seven Sister cliffs and taking part together in the Surya Namaskars whilst the sun was rising in the South Downs.
The experience as a whole has made me feel even prouder to be a Hindu, and not only this, but also increased my appreciation and gratitude towards Britain (our Karmabhoomi) and as I grow older I hope to give back and contribute positively to society in Britain.
Being involved in the planning process for the Yatra was a truly special experience. Not only was this a first for our students’ movement, but the very first time the idea of a spiritual journey, rooted in Dharmic principles, was attempted in the UK – the pressure was on! Through the physical challenge presented on these harsher terrains, we aimed to embody the value of Tapas. This is recognising our comfort zones and making the active effort to stretch ourselves beyond this, unleashing and unlocking our true potential. This value is essential in our Sadhana (spiritual practice), and through this Yatra we hoped that our NHSF (UK) students and the members of our wider Samaj that joined us were able to take on this challenge.
Our aim was to give our chapter and Samaj members the opportunity to challenge themselves and better themselves whilst undertaking this spiritual journey to ultimately increase their affinity to Britain.
There were many questions running through all of minds whilst planning: What type of experiences did we want to provide our attendees? How were we going to ensure attendee safety? Were we going to be able to stick to a reasonable budget? These are the questions that wouldn’t spring to those who are attending and enjoying the events that NHSF (UK) puts on. Through this experience I was able see first-hand the level of details that goes on behind the scenes to pull off a national-scale event; this many meetings and endless discussions paid off in my all-round growth and the number of friends I made along the way.
I was also able to see the physical transformations through the Yatra commitments which many of us undertook around a month before the Yatra. My personal Vrat (commitment) was to cut out junk food and coffee from my life, to try and maintain as Sattvic a diet as was possible. This has stayed with me since the Yatra as I was able to become more mindful on what I was putting into my body and what nourishment my body required. I am grateful for the opportunity the Yatra provided me to challenge myself and implement healthier habits.
I feel extremely grateful to have received the opportunity to help organise and attend this landmark event and I hope to see it continue and grow bigger for years to come.
- Jaanki Thakrar
City University of London, NHSF (UK) National Finance Team