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Region 3 - July 2012 Update

27th Annual Multi-faith Pilgrimage for Peace in London’s East End
Saturday 26th May 2012

The 27th Annual Westminster Multi Faith Pilgrimage took place on Saturday 26th May 2012 in East London, home to the Manor Park Sai Centre, which has supported this Peace initiative almost from its inception. This year Manor Park Sai Centre was given the opportunity to assist Westminster Inter Faith in organising the Pilgrimage by liaising with the Local Faith groups.

The Pilgrimage started from St Ethelburga’s Centre in Bishopsgate in the City of London, in the morning, where Pilgrims from various parts of United Kingdom gathered. St Ethelburga’s Centre has a Peace Tent designed by Dr Keith Critchlow, the Architect of the Superspeciality Hospital in Puttaparthi. From Bishopsgate, the Pilgrims took a over ground train from Liverpool Street Station to Manor Park in East London for their next leg of the Pilgrimage. All the Pilgrims were huddled together in a few compartments and were involved in deep Inter Faith dialogue, making the train look like a Peace Train.

The next destination was the London Sri Murugan Temple, a Hindu temple which was getting ready for its Annual Cart Festival, the next day. This majestic building of the Temple which is a cynosure of all who visit Manor Park welcomed the pilgrims with open arms. The Pilgrims were treated to refreshments which were very welcoming on a hot day, and thereafter the officials of the Temple gave a vivid description of the History of the Temple and its activities. Many Catholics said how similar some of the rituals and ceremonies in the Hindu Temple are to that of their Church.

From the Temple, the Pilgrims walked to the Froud Centre, home to Manor Park Sai Centre. Here, about 150 to 200 Pilgrims watched a Video of "Swami and His Projects" in rapt silence. Thereafter, the President of the Sai Centre and the leader of the Sikh Community from Birmingham gave talks. At the end of the talks, the Sikhs from Birmingham provided Lunch to the Pilgrims, which Seva they have been doing without interruption, since inception of the Pilgrimage annually.

The Pilgrims then visited the St Michaels Church, a Shia Mosque and a Sunni Mosque. The altar at the Shia Mosque in many ways resembled shrines in Hindu Temples. In all the Mosques the Pilgrims were treated to refreshments.

On the last leg of the Pilgrimage, the Pilgrims visited the St Anthony’s Church at Forest Gate and the Sikh Gurudwara at Neville Road in Upton Park. At the Gurudwara Kirtans were sung, and also the leaders gave talks outlining their activities. At last, the Pilgrims partook in the Langar (dinner) provided by the Gurudwara, which was enjoyed by everyone after a long day.

This was a memorable walk for the Sai Devotees, as mention of Sai was made in many places the pilgrims visited.

It is also worth noting that the Sunni Mosque had arranged prayers for peace by members of various faiths.

Pilgrimage starting from St Ethelberga's, Bishopsgate, London EC2

Captive audience watching the DVD Swami’s Projects – Sathya Sai Centre of Manor Park.

Shrine at the Shia Mosque.

Central London Sai Centre

"Hands that serve are holier than lips that Pray"

"Offer service to someone in need, with a full heart and experience the bliss that results. It need not be something big; it can be a small act, unnoticed by others. But it has to be done to please the God within you and the other person" - Baba

For the Sai Organisation, Narayan Seva is an intrinsic and integral part of all its activities as it reflects Bhagavan’s Message of Ceiling on Desires.

Narayan Seva at Central London Sai Centre

In line with Bhagwan’s teaching that “Service to Mankind is Service to God”, Narayan Seva (food distribution) is conducted on the 3rd Sunday of every month at the Central London Sai Centre.

On the day, the volunteers arrive at the centre at 10:00 a.m to set up the hall for a sit-down lunch and arrange for refreshments. The guests, majority of who are homeless Londoners start arriving from approximately 11:00 a.m. They are warmly welcomed and served tea/coffee or juice to start with, followed by lunch at 12:15. All of the food is cooked and served by the volunteers themselves.

Health Awareness Clinic

On 20/05/2012, the 3rd Sunday of May, a special Health awareness clinic for the homeless was organised at the Central London Sai Centre. This was in addition to the regular Narayan Seva, which is conducted at the Centre on the 3rd Sunday of every month. Meals, on that day were packed and distributed to the guests in take-away containers as opposed to the usual sit-down lunch, because the hall was being used for the medical check ups and consultations.

The objective of this medical camp was to provide free medical check-ups and advice to the homeless to address their health and wellbeing.
A total of 13 Healthcare professionals ably supported by 12 general volunteers (doing different roles) participated in the camp.
The services that were provided by this team included:

1. Blood Pressure
2. Blood Sugar
3. Body Mass Index
4. GP
5. Stroke Association
6. Diabetes
7. Ophthalmic examination
8. Dental examination
9. Pharmacy
10. Back Pain Treatment

A team of volunteers set up the hall for the camp the previous evening by clearly demarcating different sections/booths for different categories of treatments and to respect patient confidentiality. The camp was initiated on the day with a prayer to seek the blessings of our beloved Bhagwan and to thank him for giving us this wonderful opportunity to serve.

There was a considerable amount of time spent in planning the camp and it was organised as follows:

A registration desk was created near the entrance of the hall where the guests were initially seated and handed forms to fill out which included some personal details such as names and ages and also the services they were interested in.

The healthcare professionals were allocated separate booths for provision of their services. The guests were personally and individually attended to by the volunteers and led to the individual booths ensuring that none of the sections were overcrowded and that no guest was inconvenienced by having to wait for a long time.

On their way out, the guest were asked to hand over their forms, the details from which were entered into computer to maintain records.

The Narayan Seva (food distribution) was conducted in a smaller hall adjoining the one where the medical camp was being conducted.

All the volunteers in that hall had the privilege to witness Swami’s miracle first-hand when a part of the ceiling came crashing down during the course of the Narayan Seva.

The crash created an extremely loud clatter as huge planks of wood fell to the floor from a great height. Miraculously, not a single guest or a volunteer was hurt in the process and Swami’s picture which was placed on a small stool with an offering of prasadam stayed intact inspite of everything upturning around it.

The most encouraging part of this was that the volunteers resumed the food distribution outside once the room was sealed, undeterred by the incident or the loss of food that resulted from it.

I firmly believe this incident only reinforces, in a much forceful manner, the message that Swami is shielding, protecting and looking after us at all times.

With Swami’s grace, the medical camp was a huge success and the efforts of all the healthcare professionals and volunteers were fruitful. 51 guests were provided with the best possible medical advice and guidance on their health and well-being.

The success of this endeavor will no doubt pave the way for many such efforts, hopefully on an increasingly larger scale, in the future!!!

Mother Theresa had what she called a business card which she gave to those who came to her:

"The fruit of faith is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is love.
The fruit of love is service."
Sai Youth – Central London Sai Centre

Region 3 Sai School Sports Day

Sprinting, skipping, tug of Love and football... these were just, but a few of the ‘Olympic events’ that our champions, also known as the children, enjoyed at the annual sports day of the Region 3 SSE School on Sunday 1st July. The auspicious sporting arena for this year’s sports day was none other than Ashton Playing Fields in Woodford Bridge. This event was attended by many well-wishing spectators including parents, grandparents and friends.

The day kicked off with prayers and dedications to the Sweet Lord who is ever present among us. The Hand of the Divine was definitely felt during the day, through the natural elements as we had our fair share of sun, wind and rain at intermittent periods. “Love my uncertainty” is truly a quote from the Lord that we truly had to practice on this day!

Then, a torch procession followed, which allowed the five teams, named after the Human Values of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non-Violence, to parade around the track. As well as the values, each team championed one of the colours from the Olympic Rings. These rings were brought together at the end of the procession to symbolise all teams uniting together for this prestigious event. This formed a spectacular view for all indeed!

"It’s great that being in these teams, gave all the children the opportunity to bond with Sai brothers and sisters from the different age ranges!", commented one parent.

After that, young athletes from the age of 5 and upwards participated in 100 metre sprint, obstacle races, relay races as well as newest event - added this year – the long jump!

All these track events came to a close by the end of the morning, which was just as well, as everyone was then ready for lunch. Even during lunch, the Gods of Wind and Rain were making their presence felt and seemed to be gaining even more momentum. Thankfully, the prayers of the School didn't go unheard as the end of lunch, saw the beautiful God of Sun, shine in all its glory as children participated in field events, involving teamwork, namely the tug of love, football and rounders. Face painting and ice cream were an added bonus which added to the expression of joy and unity among all.

The day concluded with a speech and announcement from the Coordinator Ketan Patel. Most were glad to hear that “Truth” won the day! Team Truth secured a very comfortable 78 points! This was followed by the presentation of a unique set of Gold Medals which cannot be won at any other Olympic event, as they contained a special Sai inscription 'R3 SSE Sports Day 2012 – Life is a Game, Play it'.

"The look on my son’s face when he received the medal said it all really. In fact, when he got home, he was inspired to go for a run. The whole day aroused his interest in the Olympics and he now cannot wait to start SSE School in September!" said another parent from the SSE School.

The day concluded with everyone putting their hands together for the final prayer of the day, the Aarthi, to mark their deep gratitude to the Lord.

"The day was really enjoyable and it was great that everyone was involved! Everyone felt part of the day," added a well-wisher who was reflecting on the whole day.

Ketan Patel – Co-ordinator Region 3 Sai School