Mission and Role of BalaVihar
The Chinmaya Atlanta BalaVihar at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta was designed to nurture the minds of young children by teaching them the values of Sanatana Dharma and helping them grow into responsible and productive citizens of tomorrow. The BalaVihar program fills a critical need in this fast-paced society where our children are confronted with a variety of conflicting choices by teaching them self-discipline, instilling a sense of responsibility, and enabling them to make the right choices that will lead to their own betterment and that of the society at-large. These goals are accomplished through a well-defined curriculum, which draws on the ideals of the Chinmaya Mission and aims to provide a solid spiritual foundation in Hindu philosophy coupled with a deep appreciation for Indian heritage and culture.
How is BalaVihar conducted?
BalaVihar is held every Sunday (except for typical holidays) from 10:20 a.m. until 12 noon during the regular school year in the Education Building of the Temple; classes are not held during the summer break. All the children assemble together for aarathi followed by the recognition of children, parents and teachers celebrating their birthdays during the week. They then disperse to their respective classrooms where they are taught by a core of professionally-accomplished and dedicated volunteer teachers. Children are grouped into classes based on their academic grade levels, starting from Pre-Kindergarten through to Senior-year in high school (a child must be at least Three years old to join the program); the curriculum progressively builds on what children have learned at preceding levels. In a typical class session, children will learn slokhas, followed by the main topic for the year, i.e., Alphabets, Ramayanam, Mahabharatham, etc., and an activity (e.g., coloring, quiz, bhajan, discussion) depending on the curriculum. All the required educational materials are provided to the children. Children also learn the various poojas such as Ganesha Pooja , Saraswathi Pooja, and Shivarathri and perform them in the Temple on those auspicious days. They also celebrate Deepavali and Holi and gain an appreciation for Hindu festivals. The highlight of the year is the Annual BalaVihar Day in which each class showcases its learnings through a special program in the form of slokha-chanting, play, or dance-drama, created with the teacher’s guidance and the enthusiastic participation of the parents. This is typically held during the weekend before Memorial Day and marks the official end of the BalaVihar year.