BAPS hosts conferences In North America to inspire, empower women

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The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha held its annual Women’s Conference themed Resolutions: Bonds that Liberate last month. The conference centered on positive resolutions that transform lives by transforming habits: Accepting ownership, performing hard work, and making sacrifices. Speakers discussed how one’s resolve to take ownership, perform hard work, and make sacrifices can strengthen character and develop grit. The conference focused on how individuals can cultivate personal accountability within family, community, and spiritual growth without feeling burdened, a BAPS press release said.

The conference was organized by local youth and women volunteers of BAPS who dedicated weeks of their time leading up to the conference to organize a professional forum where women could share their strengths and empower one another. The diversity of speakers invited to present at the conference appealed to a wide variety of interests among audience members. Their personal experiences and adherence to cultural values inspired young women to strive for success while imbibing spirituality into their daily lives, the press release said.

Conference were held on March 8 at 13 locations across North America including Robbinsville and Edison in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Long Island, New York. Some of the speakers were Bianca Pujara, Dr. Gopi Mukhavalli, Middlesex County Freeholder Shanti Narra, Satwant Khanalia, First Secretary at the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C., Dimple Shah, Assistant Secretary at the Dept. of Homeland Security; and Suhag Shukla, executive director of the Hindu American Foundation.

Pujara, one of the speakers at the March 8 event in Robbinsville, New Jersey talked about the sacrifices women make at every step in life. “We think making sacrifices for others will weaken us.,” she said, adding, “Without compassion, sacrifice becomes a burden, with compassion, sacrifice become a source of happiness.” When there is something higher to gain or achieve, we don’t look at what we have to give up, she continued. “If sacrificing gives us a greater goal and greater outcome of life, why not sacrifice, why not change our life for the better,” she asked the audience.

Speaking at the Edison event, Narra noted how important it is for women to come up with resolutions that honor themselves. “Women give so much of themselves, they have to realize that its not an unending well,” she said.

Speakers at the D.C. event spot about women’s role in the society today and also emphasized the importance of similar conferences that encourage a dialogue and exchange of ideas. Khanalia said the conference was very insightful and “embodied the Indian-American experience in the U.S. and the crucial role women have played in that experience.”

“There were a lot of lessons to be learned or reminders with regard to managing work, life, family,” Shah said. Shula said events like these “allow women to come together, to share, to inspire one another and get engaged in seva.”

According to Arti Barot, a local volunteer at the Robbinsville temple, one of our most important goals for this year’s conference was to have every attendee find the event worthwhile and meaningful in some way. “All of the speakers brought something unique to the conference, and they were able to relate to an audience of a wide age range,” she said.

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