Bhopal, located in the heart of India, is the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh, lying just north of the Vindhya mountain range. It is known as the city of lakes, most famous for Bada Talab and Chota Talab, two beautiful lakes that frame its edges. It was here, from 6-8 September that over 730 youth gathered from the province of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to reflect on how they could join hands on a path of service to their communities.
The first morning began with a traditional Chhattisgarhi dance from central India to welcome the two Continental Counsellors, representing the Universal House of Justice, and a member of the National Spiritual Assembly. The venue was filled with the beautiful sounds of music and cheering as those gathered expressed their excitement and eagerness to consult together on how they could bring about constructive change in their villages and work towards a vision of prosperity illumined by the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
“At the conference I learned about the twofold moral purpose of life; that is consciously working towards the transformation of the individual and community. I now really want to dedicate my energies to these two processes.”
A participant at the conference
Recognizing that the period of youth is a unique time in the life of an individual––one marked by the development of new powers and capacities––participants discussed the ways in which they could contribute to the wellbeing of humanity. One friend said, “If we want to bring about transformation in society, we will have to change how we think and assist the younger generation to develop capacity for service to their communities.”
The evening plenaries featured songs, skits and poetry developed by participants that expressed insights gained from each day of study and discussions. One group wrote a poem about the contribution youth can make to the development of communities:
The study of the conference materials helped shape a strong sense of purpose in the participants as they reflected on their responsibility to contribute to the transformation of society. One youth said: “Until the conference I had never thought about my community. All I knew and thought of was of my work and career. But during these three days, I came to understand that the purpose of my life is to care for others. So when I go home, I will gather the younger youth in my neighbourhood and help them to develop the capacities they need to bring about constructive change in our community.” Another expressed, “At the conference I learned about the twofold moral purpose of our lives; that is consciously working towards the transformation of the individual and the community. I now really want to dedicate my energies to these two processes.”
Their time together had a profound effect on the hearts and minds of everyone gathered. In an environment infused with their enthusiasm and desire to serve, their awareness of the challenges facing the world and their responsibility to contribute to its betterment, had grown and their vision expanded. One participant stated: “I was in a well, now I am in a lake and would love to go into the sea and from there into the ocean!”
As the sun set over Bhopal, the participants returned home, with renewed commitment to contribute to the material and spiritual development of their communities.
Arriving youth register for the conference
The conference was an opportunity for the participants to reflect together about the contribution they can make to the progress of those younger than themselves
The youth planned ways in which they could systematically contribute to the well-being of their communities upon their return home
Participants listened attentively as their friends shared ideas in their groups
Discussions began in large groups and then broke into smaller ones in order to explore the ideas in light of their local realities
A small workshop group studies the conference materials together
Youth work together on a creative presentation of the themes being studied
Participants share a creative expression of the themes they studied in workshop groups
A joyful spirit imbued the atmosphere
Music and the arts were a large component of the conference, bringing joy to all those who participated
Devotional periods at the beginning of each session assisted in creating an atmosphere of reverence
A group photo of the participants