Patna Youth Conference

India | 13-15 September 2013

Just a short distance from the ruins of Pataliputra, the capital of ancient India, and near to where Buddha is said to have received enlightenment, is the city now known as Patna. Here more than 1,150 youth from the states of Bihar and Jharkhand converged for the youth conference from 13 to 15 September with all the hope in their hearts that through strenuous, concerted effort to apply Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings, the world can be transformed.

Those gathered were among thousands of people in the villages of this region who have been participating in activities that weave a pattern of community life in which worship and service unite. This pattern is seen in the coherence that exists between gatherings for prayer, which strengthen the devotional character of the community, and an educational process that builds capacity for service to humanity in people of all ages and backgrounds. The vitality of these two interconnected processes advancing in this region will soon be further enhanced by the erection of one of the first local Houses of Worship in the world, described by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as a place of meeting where “the proclamation of the oneness of mankind shall go forth from its open courts of holiness.”

“Here we are learning how to live our lives, not just to benefit ourselves but for the well-being of everyone.”

A participant at the conference

Watching the film Frontiers of Learning, an entire section of which was filmed in neighbouring Bihar Sharif, helped the participants to visualize how the advancement of the community building process in the region is impacting aspects of culture. Dimensions of the film that stimulated profound reflection included the increasingly equal opportunity given to women and men to obtain an education and participate in collective decision-making, a growing openness among elders and youth to collaborate with and learn from one another, and the elimination of caste and class prejudice. One youth shared, “Before we began studying Bahá‘u’lláh’s Teachings and trying to apply them in service to the community, my family and I did not see all castes as equal. But now we no more discriminate between people.”

As they learned that those younger than themselves are at a formative age, participants became more concerned for their well-being. In an encouraging environment, the youth have quickly grasped the opportunity lying before them to help channel the energies of the rising generations into serving and developing their intellectual and spiritual capacities. “Here we are learning how to live our lives, not just to benefit ourselves, but for the well-being of everyone,” one young person said. “And we can live such a life because we all have the light of God burning in our hearts, irrespective of where we come from.”

Hundreds of the participants were so moved and excited by the joyful spirit and purposeful conversations at the conference that they composed original poems and songs. By the third day there was a lineup behind the stage, such was their desire to share their insights with their peers. These creative works conveyed determination, a sense of mission, and the desire to dedicate themselves to a life of service. “As the youth conference has begun, we are filled with hope,” expressed the words of one song. The eagerness of this large contingent of youth to translate what they were learning into sustained, unified action in their communities was striking. Indeed, it seemed inevitable that as these young people continue to work shoulder to shoulder with friends and neighbours, the entire population of their region will draw ever closer to Bahá’u’lláh’s vision for a prosperous and peaceful world.

The significance of the conference logo in this context, two hands holding an outline of the states of Bihar and Jharkhand, was beautifully described by Continental Counsellor Khursheda Porsayeva: “These hands are your hands. The Universal House of Justice will pray for each one of you, be sure of this. In the coming years the next generation will participate in gatherings such as this but they will come in thousands.”

  • Participants registering for the conference

  • Continental Counsellors Khursheda Porsayeva and Rajan Sawant were warmly welcomed by participants

  • Over 1,150 youth from the regions of Bihar and Jharkhand attended the conference

  • The conference was marked by a joyful spirit

  • Groups studied and reflected on the conference materials

  • Devotions at the beginning of each day created an uplifting environment for consultation and reflection

  • Participants from the same neighborhoods consulted about their plans for community-building

  • Youth preparing an artistic presentation together

  • Participants were eager to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts in the materials

  • Youth used creative ways to express their insights

  • A workshop group collaborating on an activity

  • Youth drew maps to assist their understanding of the physical and social reality of their communities

  • Participants reflected on ways they could assist those younger than themselves

  • Traditional dances contributed to the cultural richness of the gathering

  • One workshop group presenting detailed maps of their localities

  • A group photo of the participants

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