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Region 2 - Orientation & Office Bearers Welcome Day 2012

The Region 2 Orientation and Office Bearers Welcome Day was held on Saturday 17th March 2012. It was well planned, informative and a very enjoyable day. It was great to have the opportunity for the two sessions of interactive ‘Heart to Heart’ workshops - thus ensuring active participation by all present. An excellent opportunity to learn and share from each other.

The SSSSO UK Central Council Members, ardent Devotees from other Regions, Region 2 Centre Chairs, Office Bearers, Devotees and the Region 2 Team were all warmly welcomed by the Region 2 Chair.

The day started with the UKCC Vice-Chair, Brother Jamie Raju inspiring all with a motivating speech and reminding us all to be ‘ever-ready’ to do Swami’s work!

The highlight of the day for many was the enlightening talk given by our National Spiritual Coordinator, Brother Veeru Mudigonda which left many of us speechless!

The Region 2 Team who are there to serve and support the Region 2 Sai Family were introduced, namely:-

Vice-Chair – Brother Senthil Kumarathevan
Information Officer – Sister Kuldeep Lakhmana
Service Coordinator – Brother Siva Thyraiyappah
SSE Coordinator – Brother Bhupendra Solanki
Youth Coordinator – Brother Suresh Sajnani

Region 2 Achievements in 2011

All the previous Office Bearers were thanked for all their dedicated and committed seva all throughout the year and the new Office Bearers were also welcomed.

All were updated of all the activities and celebrations that took place in the year 2011 namely:-

1. R2 Orientation and Welcome Day
2. Regional Maha Shivaratri
3. Prayers for our Beloved BABA’s Prayers when He left His mortal coil. Much needed by Devotees.
4. Regional Gayatri chanting workshop
5. Regional Guru Purnima
6. Regional Akhanda Bhajans - which is the favourite event of the year for many of us as all the 13 Region 2 Sai Centres and Groups come together and pray together!
7. Regional New Years Eve Prayers
8. SSEHV Summer Holiday campsRegion 2 Youth retreat in Wales
5. SEVA – which all Centres and Groups carry out within their surrounding communities.
6. National SEVA day – where all R2 Centres served in various activities in their local communities.
7. Many Devotees also provide dedicated Seva in the Sai Bookshop which also comes within R2
8. SSE Training for all the SSE Teachers, Parents and helpers was carried out within the Region
9. BABA’s Birthday was celebrated in all 13 Sai Centres and Groups. The R2 Team visited all the celebrations and really appreciated all the love from the R2 Sai Family at grass root level.
10. All the R2 Sai Centres and Groups also celebrate all the major festivals that are celebrated in Prashanti Nilayam too
11. The R2 Team also visited all the Sai Centres and Groups throughout the year at various times.
17. To provide a support structure, the whole R2 Team have a monthly Regional Meeting

Region 2 supported all 9 National Celebrations held all throughout the United Kingdom and were pleased that we were able to hosted two of the National Events namely:-

1. National Orientation and Welcome Day and
2. Victor Kanu’s Memorial Day - which many really enjoyed as there was a lot of ‘togetherness amongst the Devotees’ and it was very nice to see so many of the older Devotees too.

Finally and equally important, was that all the Region 2 Centres and Groups served the Sai devotees not only at Centre grass root level, but also at all the R2 events, the 9 National Events and also continued with all their normal activities all though the year too! This is certainly applaudable!

Regional Wing Reports were presented as follows-

R2 Seva Presentaion by R2 Service Coordinator – Brother Siva Thyraiyappah

With Swami’s Grace we have been very fortunate to take part in various regional service activities in 2011. All our regional activities are audited to ensure it reached the wider community and served the purpose.

As a region, within our capacity we made every effort to assist National and International projects and some of the National projects are:
• Leicester Sri Sathya Sai School: The scheme to help maintenance and specialist works in the school building and the premises, the volunteers who took part in this seva thoroughly enjoyed it.
• National Seva day: The devotees from Region2 participated in various service activities on this day and some of the activities are: Prepared and served food in Mother Theresa Home, Serving elderly and vulnerable, Giving joy and entertaining senior citizens.
• Hara Krishna organic Farm. This is to help in the organic farm from seeding to harvesting. It is a fantastic scheme where you working together with other volunteer groups. Most of the Region 2 Sai Centres jointly took part in this seva last year on the National Seva day. They included children, their SSE Teachers, parents, youths and adults.
Our goals for this year: To encourage more devotees to take part in various service activities, to Organise First Aid training to active Volunteers/Members, also to extend our Seva to Mother Theresa Home in Southall and to identified other local initiatives.

R2 Youth Presentaion by Brother Suresh Sajnani

The Youth wing Last year held the R2 Youth Retreat- i am I, from Ego Self to DIVINE SELF! The Youth retreat gave Youth the opportunity and try to understand where each one feels they are on their own path, and to also try and understand their own Inherent Divine Nature! Youth also held the Regional Youth Sathsang - Love In Action is Right Action, whereby we tried to understand what should be the fundamental basis and Motive for all our Actions. The Youth also lead the beautiful Maha-Shivaratri program held in our Region, as well as supported the National Christmas Celebrations.

At a Centre level our Youth Co-ordinators continue to hold regular activities such as Teaching Vedam, Teaching SSE and much more, in addition too supporting the Service wing, with all Centre level Service activity.

This Year the focus for the Youth wing is to enhance our Unity and give all a platform to come forward and present their ideas, which will be facilitated by our newly formed Regional Young-Adult (YAP) Program in our Region.

The Youth will also focus on consolidating a Youth Skills Database which can be used in planning and formulating events held in our Organisation but also to develop Youth skills in the area(s) they would wish too. We also plan to empower the Youth by giving them even more roles and responsibilities in Regional and National Event planning.

The Youth wing will also continue to support the dedicated work of the Service wing, as well as think of new initiatives for where we can Serve our fellow brothers and sisters.

R2 SSE Presentation by Brother Bhupendra Solanki
SSE Wing achivements for 2011:
• The introduction of Pre Nursery classes (under 4 years) since the merger of Harrow East and Pinner SSE has gone from strength to strength. We have been very blessed by Swami who has provided us with experienced teachers and He continues to bring new children and parents on a regular basis to a point where around 24 children and parents attend on a weekly basis. Each week Swami’s teachings are brought to life through activities ranging from colouring to story telling and Lessons are further enhanced when we use Yoga sessions to teach the 5 human values on alternative weeks.
• R2 have 6 Centres with SSE Classes (Greenford, Harrow West, Heston, Pinner, Slough & Southall) with over 41 Teachers, over 9 Parent Helpers and over 200 Children registered since Sept 2011.
• Majority of the Teachers have been CRB checked recently and new joiners will be checked at the next surgery
• Majority of the SSE students participated in local centre celebration of different faiths.
• R2 SSE Children participated in the annual Akhand Bhajans
• Last year for the first time SSE partook in the’ National SEWA day’. Services provided varied from harvesting potatoes to posting leaflets through the door.
• SSE participated or are participating in the National events such as Memorial Day, Birthday & National Sai Remembrance Day.

SSE Wing forward planning for 2012:
• Support Teachers to inspire Children to be exemplary citizens by practising Swami’s Teachings in their every day lives.
• Continue to build on Teachers skills to deliver lessons in a loving environment with innovative techniques.
• R2 are actively supporting National Eashwarama Day celebrations
• Looking forward to Sports Day & Picnic event at the end of the SSE term time
• Preparing to ensure SSE students are well prepared for end of year quiz / test / exams due in July.
• Looking at introducing SSE News Letter at centre level as well as Quarterly Regional one.
• Developing Regional Support & Networking for SSE Teachers
• Looking at opportunities to start Teachers & Parents Study Circles.
• Ensuring SSE is at the forefront of the Centre activities.
• Continue to get SSE involved in ‘National SEWA Day’ as part of an annual event.

Region 2 Sai Centre Chairs presented the the following Reports:-

SRI SATHYA SAI BABA CENTRES are Spiritual Powerhouses and is the very lifeline of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation where the Office Bearers are the Pillars, Devotees are the very foundation as we wouldn’t be here without them, and our Beloved Bhagavan Sri Sathya SAI BABA’s hand is like the roof – Blessing each and every one equally.

1. Sai Centre Alperton - Chair Person is Sister Anita Ruparelia

On 28th February 1983 a small group of five Devotees inspired by Swami’s teachings started devotional singing every Saturday at the Local Hindu Mandir in Alperton.
In the Millennium year 2000 on 1st January Swami Graced the Group to get affiliated to SSSSO UK.
With Swami’s immense Grace the Centre’s has flourished with regular attendance of 81 devotees starting from age 6 to 80 years.
Our Prime activities beside normal & regular activities are all themed on “Manav Seva is Madhav Seva” (SERVICE TO MANKIND IS SERVICE TO GOD). Our Love, Devotion and Commitment remains firm and we cherish these projects since all the members of the Centre are able to participate with Unity and Divinity.
1. Annual visits from France: Over 30 French Devotees visit the Centre every year since 2000. We share our experiences and offer Devotional Bhajans to our Lord. Interactions with UK devotees. This year the most wonderful experience was that a family of French speaking Devotees chanted Vedas and Rudram for over an hour exactly the way it is being chanted at Prashanti Nilyam. Indeed a joy to witness Swami’s Leela.
2. Annual Seva Day: Entertaining and Giving Joy to the Senior Citizens in the London Borough of Brent. This wonderful community project was very much needed. On our research it came to our notice that many elderly people in the local community were house bound and they did not have anywhere to go or to go with. The concept of the Seva Day came from our children and Young Adults who attended the centre.
3. Free Walk In Health Awareness Day: Working with local Community Organisations. Since the year 2000 every year we have been giving the services of free Health Checks, Eye Checks, Dental checks, BP and BVMI checks and advice on various Health Matters by Medical Professionals, Presentations for Awareness and prevention. Every year the occasions has been Graced by MPs & local Mayors. The very first Walk in Health clinic was held in the year 2000 in Brent Town Hall. Over 2500 people were screened. The comments from Paul Boateng then MP “even NHS cannot provide these kind of services” Comment from The Mayor of LB of Brent “The Medical Professionals and volunteers serving with LOVE and with humility can only be witnessed here.” Love in Action” can be witness at these clinics and seminars.
"All started in the year 2000---Coincident or Sai Incident"

2. Sai Centre Greenford - Chair Person is Brother Chitranjan Pathak

For over 25 years, Sathya Sai Centre Greenford has been doing its bit for the spiritual advancement of humanity through the practice of selfless love and service. In line with principles laid down by our Beloved Master, this is done without any distinction of religion, nationality, race, and socio-economic status, either for those who volunteer or for those who are served. Over the years, through love and dedication, our Centre has grown from a small handful of individuals to about a hundred regular Devotees every week.

Balvikas children regularly perform and contribute to celebrations focusing on world religions. In addition to this, many are now learning to play the harmonium and tabla thanks to the extra time our musicians give them in weekly classes.

The youth support our Centre through all wings in addition to engaging in their own personal spiritual activities away from the Centre. Apart from helping with the alter set-up, bhajan singing and vedam chanting every Sunday, they also help with the usual monthly seva such as the delivery of sandwiches to the homeless shelter, helping with the soup kitchen and assisting Age link with dropping off and picking up elderly guests. Some members visit a small group of lonely diners in a church and cook hot meals for them, spending time with them. Others visit care homes with treats and entertainment. Every few months, care home residents are invited to our homes for tea and a chat. Once every year, around the time of Pitru Paksha, about 50 elderly guests are invited to our centre, entertained with games and given gifts as they leave.

Parcels of food and basic resources are regularly put together and handed to charities such as The Food Bank who hand these out to families who are unable to obtain basic necessities to look after themselves due to the ailing economy. Swami inspired some of the youth to visit Him as a small group in 2010 through a series of coincidental dreams and acknowledged their presence while they were in Prashanti Nilyam.

The Centre now aims to grow, continue its activities and inspire others. Our activities are undertaken for their own sake, without the need for any recognition or the expectation of any reward. The sheer joy of working together and serving in unison is a rewarding and fulfilling experience itself.

3. Sai Centre Harrow East - Chair Person is Brother Haresh Trivedi

The centre was inaugurated in September 1996 at Whitchurch School Stanmore with bhajan singing when some 100 people attended. Gradually the attendance has increased and is currently around 250-300 people every Sunday morning and on special occasions we have attendance of over 500 people. With Swami‘s Grace the centre has commenced the usual seva related activities like Narayan seva, bhajan singing at elderly homes, attending Mother Teresa homes etc.
However the most highlighted activity, which was inspired by Swami, was the establishment of the ‘Ashiana’ project which is now functioning in its own right. ‘Ashiana’ is a charitable organisation that supports and encourages children and young adults with learning disabilities and has provided and continues to provide platform for all centre volunteers seva opportunities to practice Baba’s teaching of ‘Manav Seva is Madhav Seva’.

One other activity which we are very pleased to highlight is that our very own Uncle Vadgama, who is 78 years old, has been an instrumental in continuing the programme of ‘Laksharachran’, which was established by late Dr. Ghadhia at local as well as at many international destinations worldwide.

Uncle Vadgama has performed Laksharachran in around 12 countries and has performed 172 just in last 5 years!

4. Sai Centre Harrow West - Chair Person is Brother Jay Jeyaseelan

With our beloved Swami's grace, Harrow West Sai Centre has been a loving and divine place for all Sai devotees. Over the past 10 years, the centre has flourished from a small Labour party hall in Harrow, to our current venue, Oxhey Wood Primary school, South Oxhey, Watford.

Every Sunday from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, the venue is filled with Sai devotion and love.
The SSE classes run from 3:15 PM to 4:30 PM. The children are taught by experienced teachers including youth, who are following our Lord's teachings from a very young age. While the children are in class, parents are encouraged to learn Sri Rudram or take part in a group study circle. The bhajans start at 4:35PM and end with mangala arathi at 5:50PM. We encourage and give opportunity to all SSE children to lead in bhajans.

Bhajan practice takes place at the end of the evening for the following week.

With our Lord's blessings, the centre is very active in SSE, Spiritual, Service/Ladies and Youth wings. Every Friday evening from 8:15PM to 9:15PM, devotees including children chant Sri Rudram and Chamakam, followed by light meditation. There after a group study circle is conducted from 9:15PM to 10:15PM. The children take part in a separate study circle conducted by youth. “Good Teachers + Good Students = Good Nation.” - Baba

When service opportunities arise, our centre devotees take part in the activities with love and affection. One example is going to Hare Krishana organic farm, Watford, every third Sunday of the month.

May Swami bless us and guide us, as we continue his mission now and forever….

5. Sai Centre Heston - Chair Person is Brother Ramesh Lingampalli

Heston Sai centre has been conducting regularly devotional bhajans every Sunday from 6PM - 7PM for over 15 years. We as one united Sai family do the following:
Spiritual:
• Whilst practising Ceiling on Desires, we decided to curb our spending on flowers and Prashadam at our Centre and instead use the money for the poor and needy. During this time there was a famine in Croatia and our ex-Centre Chair, Sister Aileen La’Porte, utilised this money to make clothes for the orphans and dressed over a 1,000 babies with the money saved!
• We have regular devotional bhajans.
• We do light meditation to have a peaceful mind, good thoughts and share light to all beings.
• Follow the 9 Point Code of Conduct.
• We chant 108 Gayatri mantras every last Sunday of the month.
• We have regular Study Circles.
Service:
• We visit every 1st Saturday of the month to Roshini day care centre Old age home and sing devotional bhajans and provide our immense joy and love to all the elderly.
• We regularly visit and support Mother Teresa Soup Kitchen home in London and provide our Loving Service by cooking meals to many of the homeless.
• All the devotees volunteer their loving service in the National and Regional Sai Events.
• Last year we visited Norwood Green care home as part of NATIONAL SEVA DAY activity and presented gift packs of toiletries and fruits to all the elderly followed by devotional bhajans and a small dance program by the SSE Children.
SSE
• We conduct SSE to all the children who attend the Sai Centre.
• Children are involved in reading the ‘Thought of the day’ and also story telling.
• They learn and chant many devotional prayers and actively participate in cultural activities.
Youth
• We are proud that for the 1st World Youth Conference in Prashanti Nilayam, in 1997, eleven Youth from our Centre attended this Conference.
• We are equally proud that Sister Bhadra Patel did a workshop in Prashanti Nilayam at the 1st World Youth Conference on the 9 Point Code of Conduct.

We pray to Swami to guide us constantly, showering His Divine Blessings on us all with every little step we make and help us all to practice His Spiritual Teachings and also to fill us with His Pure Unconditional Love and Divine Light so we can continue to share this with all whom we meet.

6. Sai Centre London West - Chair Person is Brother Anand Paul

A lot of people ask “Where is the centre?” as the title is a little vague as to where we are located. We are based in South-West London in Hounslow. Which is towards Heathrow. The centre was started in January 1994 by Pramodbhai. We have approximately 30 to 50 devotees attending every week.

• Service - We conduct quarterly blood pressure clinics. Check devotees blood pressure. Track blood pressure readings over time. Monthly bhajans at Heston House home for the elderly. Every first Saturday of the month. Done in co-ordination with Heston Sai Centre. Mother Teresa Soup Kitchen Service – Quarterly (Performed in co-ordination with Heston Sai Centre). Clothes donation to local hospital. Serving at the Health Awareness Clinics. Sugar, oil, pasta & flour donation for Eastern European relief. Leicester Sathya Sai School support.

• Spiritual - Monthly Study Circles (Conducted every last Sunday of the month). Conduct special bhajan programmes on celebrations dates. Workshops conducted and guest speakers invited.

• Youth - Support regional and national functions. Support annual trips to Skanda Vale Temple, Wales. Centre setup every Sunday morning.

• Please feel free to visit our website on http://www.londonwestsaicentre.org.uk

7. Sai Centre Pinner - Chair Person is Brother Shashi Bhagalia

On 27th March 1969, Sri Rama Navami Day, the very first ‘Bhajan Centre’ was inaugurated in the UK at the ‘Om Sai’ Pinner, the then residence of Mr and Mrs Sitaram. In 1971, as the number of devotees increased and following advice received from India, ‘Pinner Sai Centre’ was started in Rayners Lane.

Sri Rama Navami in 2012 marks 41st/43rd birthday of Pinner Sai Centre. Our current address is Whitmore High School in Harrow where we hold bhajans every Sunday morning from 9am-10.30am.

During school term, SSE classes are also held and there is a strong presence of parents and children.

Currently there are 150+ devotees including teachers and children. Service activities include blood pressure/sugar clinic at the centre, Narayan Seva for homeless in Holborn and Age-Link tea party for elders. Spiritual activities include veda chanting, meditation, bhajans, study circle, and work at Sancroft and Shakti Nursing homes.

With Swami’s grace, many centre devotees came to Prashanthi in 2010 for the UK National pilgrimage. Pinner Sai Centre continues to build on Swami’s message of ‘Love All, Serve All’ with spiritual transformation through education, nama-smarana and service in the community.

Please visit our website, the address is: www.pinnersaicentre.org.uk

8. Sai Centre Slough - Chair Person is Sister Usha Venkatraman

The Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Slough was officially launched in 1996 and was brought into the Region and made part of the UK Sai Organisation. This was a major step towards being recognised as a Centre and was a proud moment for us all at Slough.

Over the years, we have not only contributed in all the Regional activities, but also set the standard in Centre based activities. Some of the key achievements at the Centre are:-

• The Health Awareness Clinics were started by Slough Sai Centre in conjunction with the local PCT’s. Little did we know that this would eventually lead to an annual event that is now part of the Regional calendar..
• The SSE children in Slough led the way on composing poems which were turned into a book that was presented to Swami. This book is still available at the Prashanti Nilayam Bookshop and it makes us proud to feel that Slough Centre was instrumental in this.
• As part of the 10th Annivasary Celebrations, we at Slough planted 2 trees in the park adjoining the hall where we meet every Sunday. The two trees continue to grow along with the Centre since then.
• We have an active Ladies Wing involving in the spiritual growth of women and also engaging in service activities.

Finally, we believe in equality and that is why since we started the centre we have had 7 Centre Chairs who have all been elected with full support.

Yes… we are all different and we have our differences at the Centre, but we believe that happens in all families. I say families because that is what we call ourselves – the Slough Sai family.

Next time you are in Slough on a Sunday afternoon then do drop by our beautiful centre and feel the love of our family and allow us to share that warmth of Love with you.

9. Sai Centre Southall West - Chair Person is Brother Tarlok Bhamra

“Southall West Sai Centre was started in late 1983. The make up of the centre is mainly the elderly with a handful of youth. The main activities feature around Bhajans, Study Circle, participating fully in Regional celebrations and also house bhajans. Our congregation takes great pride in helping to support various projects in an around the world eg. Collections for the Tsunami, stitching clothes for the needy and sending them to India, etc.

Although the congregation is not able to physically help with some projects, they are always willing to help in other ways and have done so wholeheartedly on so many occasions eg. hosting Regional Akhanda Bhajans, Regional Shivaratri event at our Centre, contributing generously towards the project for distribution blankets and food to the homeless.

All in all, Southall West Sai Centre provides a platform for our elderly to sit together in one place at a regular time/place and sing the glory of God. It motivates us all to participate in this united front irrespective of colour, caste or creed. It also gives the feel of one big happy family.”

10. Sai Centre Wembley - Chair Person is Sister Chetna Mistry

The Wembley Sai Centre was formed in the summer of 1977 and received the first recorded certificate from brother Indulal Shah in 1978.

The Youth of Wembley Sai Group continues to do all the normal activities yet a key signature activity which we are very proud of is that every year we organise an SSEHV Holiday School within Region 2.

These schools would be impossible to run if it were not for the SSEHV team which is made up of Sai Youth, trained SSEHV teachers and volunteers across the regions.

As mentioned in the March issue of Love and Light, these SSEHV Holiday Schools are run for the children of the local community who may not know of our Divine Master but can surely benefit from his teachings on the 5 Universal Human Values.

At the Region 2 Orientation Day a short PowerPoint presentation was given to show what activities take place at an SSEHV Holiday School and to inform everyone that with the grace of our dear Lord Sathya Sai Baba the SSEHV Holiday School team are organising another Holiday School in July 2012.

If you would like to be a volunteer for this year’s Holiday School please contact Mr Keith Banfield: keithbanfield@btinternet.com

Conclusion

We would like to Thank a million fold our Beloved BABA for being our director, motivator and inspiration.

The Region 2 Team appreciates all the efforts and loving seva that the Sai Centre and Group Chairs, Office Bearers and Devotees lovingly do all throughout the year.

Our Vision for the Region is that we all together work to bring Spirituality in all the Centres and Wings thus uniting the whole Region as One Sai Family

Article submitted by Region 2 Chair – Bhadra Patel on behalf of the whole of R2.