How can I plan in advance for Balvihar?
We have published the entire schedule in advance. For most up-to-date information on special events, weather cancellations, etc. please join our Facebook Group and email list
What does a typical Balvihar day look like?
Normal Balvihar Schedule
- Arrive at 9:45 am. Leave shoes in the cubby. Settle down peacefully in the Prayer Hall.
- Mantra Chant, Aarti. Listen for instructions follow your teacher to class.
- If you arrive late, you may miss out on important instructions and announcements.
- 10:10 am - Language Class
- 11:05 am - Religion Class
- Noon - 12:30 pm - Satsangh. Bhajans. Students present on current festivals
- 12:45 pm - Collect your snack pack from the lobby
Also, special guests discuss helpful information for Indian American families. Besides that we have Quiz, Question - Answer sessions or discussion in fields of Social service, Science, Arts, Music, Medicine, Math by experts. The students who have picked the date as their Seva day will hand out prasad fruits to all the devotees.
Optional : 12:30 - Lunch at Balvihar Cafe - Dosa, Idli, Vada, Coffee, Tea.
I am a new Balvihar Inductee, what should I expect?
Welcome! We are so glad to have you in our Balvihar Family. Your child will receive a notebook, pencil, Religion book on the first day of School. New Balvihar students also get a Prarthna Book which has the mantras and Aarti that we chant in the morning session.
You should stay with your child if they are 5,6, or 7 years old in their language class and religion class until they feel confident to be with the class on their own. Make sure they know that they are supposed to go to Language class and Religion class after the bell rings. Meet in Temple hall at noon. When your teachers reach out, make sure you reach out to the teachers and introduce yourself.
Why can't I bring fruits on my chosen date for Prasa
We collect $25 at the start of the year for Prasad from each family ($15 on Registration day). Fruits are purchased on your behalf and brought to the kitchen in basement. On the day of your choice (to be picked in the sign up genius link via email), you are expected to arrive at 9:15 am.
You will rinse the fruits and place it near Bhagwan in prayer hall. You will be requested to help set up white boards for teachers in temple hall, basement. Arrange tables and chairs. After the satsangh, you will stay back and put all the items away. This family service or Seva has been a very positive influence on kids, especially when it is done with the family.
Every Balvihar Sunday, we expect around 150 individuals in the Prayer hall during Aarti. All the students who have birthdays in that month are requested to do Aarti and the kids who did seva that day give out prasad after Aarti. This ensures that all our Balvihar families get prasad and we can eliminate confusion or mismanagement. As an added bonus, the Prasad funds left over after the purchase of fruits are diverted towards HTS Balvihar Scholarship. We are lucky to have a great set of parents who have always helped us. The children gain invaluable ethics when they see adults volunteer.
Do the Teachers give homework?
HTS Balvihar Teachers are mostly parents and Balvihar graduates who volunteer tirelessly to serve HTS community in teaching our children. These are 30-50 hours of a year that they dedicate towards our children. Almost all the teachers give homework so that students can stay connected mentally to their work until the next Balvihar class. However, every teacher has their own style and they gauge their class to plan syllabus and homework. Make sure your child's teacher has your correct email address. If they have a WhatsApp group, cooperate in participating. Teachers offline hours are best respected. In order to make that happen, we will stress on the Website and App communication. Network within your child's class so that you have friends who can keep you updated. A student has to aim for less than 20% absenteeism for the language and religion class to be able to pass to the next level. We have 15 teaching classes and 2 test classes in 10 months. With the help of good scheduling a student can easily be present and excel in Balvihar.
What is the best experience of Balvihar for my child?
Our past Balvihar Graduates have mentioned that, Dussera - Deepavali - Holi celebrations have created their favorite memories. Being able to meet more Indian American kids and sharing their common experiences, interests have helped in building life long friendships. The lessons and lectures of Religion at first starts as fun stories, then interesting philosophies sometimes evolve into intense theories! By the time they reach High School, they look back and realize how those concepts are applicable in real life. They ask questions that help them open up towards our approach towards Hinduism. Students participate in Satsangh by doing presentations on festivals, current topics, as well as social causes. Some students showcase their arts like dance, instruments or singing. We do quiz, make crafts, Dress-up as Ramayana characters and watch Ravan Dahan, Light up fireworks on Deepavali and also play with colors on Holi.
A lot of students feel comfortable in sharing their experiences of being bullied or standing up to do the right thing. Students are able to learn a new language, recognize words, form sentences and even follow a movie in their mother tongue! The more involved your family is in Balvihar, the more your child and your family will be enriched.
When do they start - when do they graduate?
Since 2016-17 we have started offering admissions for kids 5+. We strongly advise you to be with your 5,6, or 7=year old during their initial classes. Once they have spent 2 years at Balvihar, or by the time they are in Hinduism 201, they know the ways and rules and become confident. They spend 2 years in every class with a change in syllabus. Their language teacher reiterates practice of alphabets, vowels and practice of speech and recommends moving on to next level. If there is regular help from parents a few student move ahead faster.
Why do we have to pay Hindu Temple Society membership to enroll our child in HTS Balvihar?
HTS Balvihar is under the umbrella of Hindu Temple Society. By becoming a member of HTS, you are now eligible for Hindu Temple Society's Balvihar. The $150 goes towards the expense of operating a temple and its mounting costs. It takes $200 a day to run our temple. The temple has been here for last 40 years and the membership allows this nonprofit organization to continue serving the people of our area. If the Indian American community of Lehigh Valley supports Hindu Temple Society we can flourish and progress for decades to come. If you donate any amount above $150 towards ads, food sponsorship of other expenses in that fiscal year, then we do not charge the membership fee as you are our member by default.
Why do we have to pay fees for HTS Balvihar per student?
Like any other nonprofit organization that runs on volunteer power, our Balvihar provides a service for the community. We have around 25 selfless individuals who donate anywhere from 30-50 hours or more a year towards mentoring, teaching and guiding the youth of the Indian American community. We have few high school Balvihar Graduates who do the same. Included in the price of fees is a notebook, pencil and religion book for your child, however the language material is decided by the individual teachers. The fees you pay per child is to show gratitude for the service you receive from the teachers and coordinators and we thank you for that.
What are the optional Annual day / Bowling day tickets?
In March we arrange a bowling day of fun for the Balvihar students. This helps shake off the winter blues! We provide breakfast and game time for the families. It is a big hit and a chance to meet families outside of Temple setting.
In June, we celebrate our HTS Balvihar Annual day. This is when we showcase the year's progress by helping the students perform on stage for the family. We celebrate our Balvihar graduates who complete their long journey with HTS Balvihar. We also announce our HTS Balvihar Scholarship that day. We serve Vegetarian Gourmet Dinner afterwards. Your purchase of tickets for these two events help us plan and pay for the expenses. Tickets purchased on the day of the event are also welcome, and they will be full price.
What is HTS Balvihar Volunteering?
HTS Balvihar Volunteering is a way of bringing all the families of Balvihar together to make sure that we function at our best capacity. We send a signup genius sheet at the start of the year to all the families of Balvihar. The families pick a date of their choice when it would suit them to arrive at the temple along with their family and give 30 minutes of their time. If you pick the morning am slot, you reach by 9:15 am, take out the white boards from the library, clean them using wipes that you bring. Place 6 boards in the temple hall. 6 boards in basement in preparation of the classes that start at 10 am. Go to Kitchen basement and wash the 150 fruits and place them in a container and bring it to the temple hall. Put 2 tables under the tv in the basement, 2 tables across the hall in basement, 1 table near the music system. Make sure all these tables are clean with a white board on them. All these tables will need chairs. We will need 6 chairs on the stage and 1 whiteboard there as well.
If you pick the pm afternoon slot : Your family is expected to put away all boards from basement and temple hall in the library after making sure it is clean. Put the tables and chairs away from the basement hall as well as the stage and ensure the area is clean. Check all the rooms, bathroom and common areas to make sure that there are no items like books, jacket, bagpacks left behind. Check to make sure if there is a student still waiting for their parent to pick them up.
Volunteering for Festival Days: We celebrate Dussera (Oct 1st 2017) Deepavali (October 29th) and Holi (April 29th 2018) at Balvihar. These are the days when we do not have classes. The volunteers help students play games, do arts and crafts, participate in quiz and cook. We will have 3 cuisines for 3 festivals. Volunteer parents collect groceries and cook from 9 am - 11am in HTS temple. We then serve lunch for all our Balvihar students. We sell the remaining food to the families of Balvihar. The amount raised from the sales help us for our Balvihar expenses. This is also a great time to make memories. Rama Parivar does Ravan Dahan, Deepavali Firecrackers, Rangeela Color play are the most favorite moments of a Balvihar student's experience.
HTS Balvihar Volunteering is an ideal way to enforce the values we learn at Balvihar into the lives of our children. Your kids helping you help the community brings a sense of hardwork and selflessness that makes their character stronger. Usually there is a trend to encourage our kids to volunteer so that they may earn credits for school but that itself is a return on your donation. However if we were to teach our kids from the age of 5 or 6 to do your duty and not worry about the results, we are truly following the:
Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana, Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥