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Love and Light

Region 5 - Guru-Poornima Celebrations

Devotees from across the region gathered in Bolton on Sunday 8 July to celebrate Guru-Poornima. This was the first Regional event organised in Bolton after many years, and the Bolton groups worked together with unity. Devotees came all the way from Sandbach to Preston, from Leeds to Newcastle - the whole length and breadth of the region. The hall was decorated and Swami's altar looked beautiful. A large stage was set too, which left devotees eagerly anticipating what activities would take place on it. Vibrant vedam and bhajans set the atmosphere for Mr Kailash Venkat, our Regional Chair, to give the welcome address. Kailash explained and reminded us all about how very auspicious this occasion was for the devotees.

We were fortunate to have Mr Navin Patel from Leicester as our guest speaker. Navinbhai was one of the first batches of students to pass through Swami's educational institutions in Puttaparthi and he shared some very beautiful experiences with us. He reminded us that Swami is pure love, He is Premaswaroopa. Navinbhai shared about Swami's love. Swami, Navinbhai and Swami's driver were in a car driving from Anantapur to Bangalore. Swami stopped the car along a road with fields on either side and got out of the car. There seemed to be nobody around. All of a sudden, workers from the field started to gather for darshan. Swami asked after a particular farm worker who was blind and patiently waited for him so that he could have His darshan too - such love for God to stop the car and wait patiently for a devotee to arrive! When Swami visited Africa, He chose to travel by car for 12 hours rather than fly, again so that He could stop and meet local Africans who could also have His darshan.

Navinbhai talked about how important it is to have love in our centres, between our centres, and between devotees. There may be Sai groups in every corner but it is important that we all work together with tolerance and love and as ONE Sai family, especially for larger events.

In the hostel, Swami would always lead by example - whether it be painting or sweeping - He would show the students how it should be done first and then let them complete it. Swami told Navinbhai "when I have taken you under my protection, I WILL protect you" and this assurance holds true for all of us. As you can tell, quite a lot was packed into a short time!

After Navinbhai's talk, we watched a video of Swami's Guru-Poornima discourse from 2004 where the main theme was about tolerance. The SSE students took to the stage to present a Shiva dance - part one of their Guru-Poornima contributions. Ms Nishal Govindji talked us through the National Pilgrimage Sai Jyothi presentation and showed us the video. She delivered the presentation with lots of energy and excitement. The SSE children returned to present to us about our Gurus - mothers, fathers, school teachers, friends, and ended with God as our true friend. They also sang some beautiful songs - including one in Telugu that they learned especially for Guru-Poornima.

Mr Arvind Patel then spoke in Gujarati. He talked about his personal experiences with Swami and ended with a strong focus on service. Arvindbhai shared the various projects being undertaken by members of the Sai Organisation across the region and also more locally around Greater Manchester area. He encouraged us all to take a good look at ourselves, Swami's teachings, and to become more active in service projects.

Mr Vijayanand Nadella, our Regional Spiritual Coordinator, summarised the programme. He added what I thought was an interesting story about how someone once asked Swami the similarities and differences between Swami and Gurus. Swami explained how Gurus do sadhana to ascend and come up to God... whereas Swami has come down to 'act' as a Guru.

Delightful bhajans ended the programme, with Mangal Arathi offered in a packed hall. Ms Hannah Mistry, our MC, re-iterated how blessed we are to have God himself as our teacher. Finally, we all had a lovely lunch!

Mr Sanjay Vaja
Greater Manchester Spiritual Coordinator