Bangalore, with its vibrant flora, vast parklands, and tree-lined avenues, is known as the “garden city of India”. Around 800 young people from three southern states—Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala—inspired by Bahá‘u’lláh’s vision for a just and united world, gathered from 12 to 14 October in the city to consult about how their generation could share this vision with others.
For many, exploring the potential of youth to contribute to the development of their communities presented challenging, yet exciting, ideas. The participants were eager to deepen their understanding, studying together for long hours and discussing the conference materials. “This conference is a new experience for me,” one 17-year-old said. “I learned how to identify opportunities for service and cannot wait to begin as soon as I am home again.” The sincerity of the bonds of friendship that were formed enhanced their ability to consult, and the diversity of the different cultural backgrounds and languages of the participants enriched their discussions.
“At this conference we have come from various regions, consulting on a common vision, to discuss the opportunities we have to serve our communities.”
A participant at the conference
As those gathered consulted on the conference themes, their excitement at the prospects for contributing to change in their villages and neighbourhoods grew. Their enthusiasm for learning found expression in the evening plenary sessions, as groups of youth shared artistic presentations inspired by the day’s study and discussion. They included beautiful dances, songs, dramas, and poetry that further illuminated the concepts in the conference materials.
Another aspect of the participants’ deliberations was thinking of concrete steps that they could take upon returning to their communities. In small workshop groups, comprising youth from the same localities, they drew maps of their neighbourhoods and villages, analyzed their conditions and identified opportunities to be of service. The plans often included a process of education for the younger generation, one that would guide and nurture in them the capacities necessary for service to their communities.
After three days of intense study, reflection, sharing and planning, the participants were ready to return home bolstered by a vision of how the application of Bahá‘u’lláh’s Teachings could bring about sustained progress. Heartened by the bonds of friendship, they all set out for their homes eager to translate their lofty ideals into action.
Devotional periods at the beginning of each session assisted in creating an atmosphere of reverence
Discussions began in large groups and then broke into smaller ones in order to explore the ideas in light of their local realities
The conference was an opportunity for the participants to reflect together about the contribution they can make to the spiritual and social development of their communities
Each of the workshop groups came up with artistic presentations to illustrate the concepts they had explored
Groups took turns sharing the fruits of their consultations
Youth were encouraged to share the insights from their workshops in the plenary gatherings
The 800 participants came from three southern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala