The 8th Diocesan youth festival of the Diocese of Amritsar

Amritsar, October 25 - 28

The 8th Diocesan youth festival of the Diocese of Amritsar was held in Alexandra School, Amritsar on the theme "In search of Abundant Life.” This was the first time the Festival was being held in Amritsar, the Diocesan headquarters.

Group Photo of the 8th Diocesan Youth Festival

The Youth Festival is a 3-day programme for young boys and girls from all over the Diocese and is the mostawaited youth event of the year. This year, 118 youth participated in the event. Participants were divided into 6 groups-Ruth (Red), Green (Esther), Abraham(Yellow), Joseph(White), Moses(Orange), and Mary Magdalene(Blue).

In the Inaugural and Introductory session, participants were asked what "Life" meant to them. Some said life is happiness, a journey, and is precious while others said that life is a burden and a struggle. We kick-started each day with exercise and were rejuvenated through Praise and Worship which was led by the girls and boys from Shanti Niketan Children's Home, Subathu, H.P.

Morning Exercise
Subathy group lead the youth in praise and worship
Praise and worship at Alexandra School Chapel

Bishop P.K. Samantaroy facilitated 2 power-packed Bible Studies on the theme of searching for abundant life. He led the participants through a series of Bible verses which demonstrate how a bounty of life's riches is already in store for us. An abundant life is one that is complete and overflows with goodness. He stressed on how the
Youth do not exist in a vacuum but are connected to the ones who have gone before us and those who will follow in our footsteps.

There were 2 sessions throughout the program led by the resource person, Mr. Pradip Bansrior, the Youth Coordinator of Church of North India. He too, spoke on the theme of looking at ways to be a part of the abundant life that God has promised us. He encouraged the participants to think about whether their life is selfcentered, Chris- directed or self-directed. For the second session, groups were asked to make presentations on "How to find God's design in your life".

A special Bhangra dance performance was given by the boys of Dayal Bhatti, a village covered under the Diocesan Education Project for Disadvantaged Children (DEPDC).They rocked the stage with their dynamic dance moves and pumped up the audience with their confidence and boundless energy!

Bishop Samantaroy during Bible Study
Mr. Pradip Bansrior during his sessions
Punjabi Dance, Bhangra.

A Speech Elocution was organised on the topic "The Role of youth in search of abundant life" to encourage the young boys and girls to develop their confidence and skills for critical thinking. For healthy competition in sports, the boys got into a series of Volleyball matches and the girls contended with each other in Kho Kho. The group Singing competition brought forth the varied musical capabilities of the Diocesan youth. The Bible Quiz based on the books of Nehemiah, the Gospel of Luke and general knowledge was crucial in gauging the degree of Biblical knowledge of the youngsters. A significant outcome of the Quiz was that after taking the test, most participants expressed the need to read the Bible more often.

When the time came for sharing personal experiences, it was touching to see participants open up about their problems in front of the entire audience and proudly testifying as to how the Youth Festival had changed their perspectives and world views, and how meeting other young people like themselves has given them the strength to deal with their personal problems.

The cultural programme was a colourful blend of music, dance and skits representing all the cultural diversity of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. We swayed to the movements of Naati and jumped to the beats of Bhangra, the folk dances of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab respectively. The skits addressed social issues like alcoholism that affect our youth today.

We were pleased to have two foreign guests amongst us- Katrin Bruske and Christian Frank from Germany. This was the last day of their stay with us and they had stayed back especially to meet the participants. We also had with us Rev. Neil Smith from Bankstown Church, Sydney, Australia.

The Youth Festival ended on a solemn note with a dedication service at St. Paul's Church, Amritsar, as participants worshipped along with the local congregation. Rev. Neil Smith gave the message on making the best out of life's opportunities. Bishop Samantaroy dedicated 6 batons representing each of the 6 houses, with ribbons carrying the names of all participants tied onto the batons as a symbol for the Diocesan Youth. After the service, the youth got a chance to interact with the members of the congregation.

Dedication of Batons during the Dedication service in St. Paul’s Church, Amritsar

This year we saw many new faces at the Youth Festival and the focus has been on bringing up the young men and women from the rural churches. It was heartening that the number of female participants was considerably more as compared to that of previous years. This is a promising sign that people in the villages are gradually accepting the need for these girls to go out and have more exposure. The Youth Festival is a platform for the young men and women across the diocese to meet each other and share their experiences, for growing together through learning and contemplating on God's word. As Bishop Samantaroy repeatedly told us, "Life is full of surprises!" and so till next time, "Keep smiling!"