BIS #6834 Bal Mela at Snehalaya

By Fr Bosco Carvalho for BISMumbai

On 20 November 2022, in commemoration of International Children's Day, Don Bosco Snehalaya, Vadodara, organised a grand ‘Bal Mela’ for the children of the slums of Vadodara city. More than 1000 children participated in the Bal Mela. The Salesians and staff of Don Bosco Snehalaya were the organising team for this event.

The program started with a prayer for all children all over the world. After the lighting of the lamp, the girls from Mother Teresa Charity Home presented a prayer dance invoking the presence of God amidst the gathering. Fr Baptist Monteiro, the Director of Don Bosco Snehalaya, welcomed the children and the staff, and highlighted how Don Bosco began his work for poor kids with the oratory.

The Chief Guests for the event were Dr Parth Joshi, Critical Care Specialist and Diabetologist, and Mr Vinod Kumar Parmar, the Human Resource Manager of Parul University. In his talk, Dr Joshi advised the children to do the right thing and enjoy whatever they did. With the cutting of the ribbon and letting doves free, Dr Joshi declared the Bal Mela open. The children proceeded to the games stalls for the fete games. Each child vied with one another to win the games and grab a prize for themselves. The children then joined in a jam session of their traditional dances including garba, timli and other popular songs. After this, the children had a good lunch.

In the afternoon, the children were given an opportunity to present their performances on stage. Numerous children came up on stage and performed dances, sang songs, delivered poems and shayaris. Mr Kiran Patel, a renowned speaker, delivered a speech on 'Refraining from the use of Drugs'. He urged and led the children to realise the ill effects of drugs and to always avoid its usage. Post session, the children were led into an energetic bokwa dance by Miss Ritu. This pumped up the entire gathering.

In the evening, the Don Bosco Snehalaya family organised a cultural program for all the children. The Chief Guest for this program was Mrs Geetika Patel, the Medical Director of Parul University. The program commenced with the lighting of the lamp and the performance of a prayer dance song 'Har Har Shambhu'. This was followed by a dance performance and a song performance. Fr Baptist Monteiro introduced the guest of honour and also presented snapshots of happenings in Snehalaya. In her talk, Mrs Patel urged the children to open up their wings and fly out in the open. After a beautiful dance performance, Mr Regan Macwan thanked all benefactors for their generosity and endless support. The Bal Mela came to a fitting conclusion with a dance session.

The children went back with fond memories with each other. Tushar Vaghela commented: "I truly enjoyed every minute of the day. It was exactly what I had expected." Another girl ,Asmita, said: "We love to come to Don Bosco because we feel loved." These wonderful experiences of the children only go to prove what Don Bosco believed and lived - That you are young is enough to make me love you very much.