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Region 2 - Baba's Birthday Celebrations

Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Greenford

Greenford Sai Centre celebrated Swami's advent day on the 25th November with the morning starting off with Ganapati Athirvashirsham and Narayan Upanishad. This was followed by a short Paduka pooja and some melodious bhajans.

The Balvikas children took turns to talk about what they felt Swami would want from us as a present on His birthday.

The youth continued on a similar note and performed a play based on constant integrated awareness - which was a combined drama and presentation reflecting on how one should incorporate Swami's teachings on a daily basis and how we should see God everywhere, in everything, all the time. It showed how living His message is not actually that difficult as Swami does not demand much from us. This was followed by Aarthi and maha prashadam.

The 23rd November is known all over the world for one reason – the day the world welcomed the Almighty in human form. This is not just a day of celebration for us; it is a period of reflection to assess how far we have progressed spiritually and how much we have transformed over the past year which was the basis of the theme of the whole day.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Harrow East

The Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow East celebrated Swami’s birthday on Sunday 18th November. Around 300 devotees enjoyed the programme which began with Vedam Chanting creating an atmosphere reverberating with divine vibrations. Bhajans then followed which transported the gathering into the Sai Kulwant Hall. The highlight of the programme was a thought provoking and uplifting talk by Brother Divij Desai from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.

Brother Divij studied Physics as an undergraduate and was then instructed by Swami to study for an MBA. He is now working in London on a project for Citibank. Many devotees recognised Brother Divij as one of the uniquely privileged boys who pushed Swami’s chair during Darshan.

Brother Divij shared many experiences of the tender Love and care with which Swami had guided him and how through his intensity of devotion Swami had allowed him proximity as a personal attendant. He recounted numerous personal interactions which all carried some message or another. He also shared Swami’s guidance to all of us about being fearless and experiencing the divine presence at all times and all places.

The Birthday Song then followed and one final (surprise) bhajan sung by Swami himself (with his delightful form seen via the projector screen which the IT team had set up). The programme concluded with Aarthi and distribution of the birthday cake whilst devotees left with smiles on their faces feeling uplifted with divine vibrations and looking forward to the big week ahead.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Harrow West

Our beloved Swami’s Birthday celebration began with prayers to Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. The altar was beautifully decorated in Prashanthi colours and the Oxhey wood hall was filled with ardent devotees.

The unified sound of the voices chanting the complete Sri Rudram filled the hall with such vibration that we all felt transported to Prashanthi Nilayam. With Swami’s physical presence no longer on this Earth, his last instructions for humankind to recite the Sri Rudram to cleanse Mother Earth was undertaken by Harrow West devotees as the beautiful Vedic chanting heard from children and adults alike was a joy.

After the prayers were chanted including the powerful Gayathri mantra, the melodious bhajans began from the lead singers supported by a strong chorus which uplifted and energised all the devotees. The bhajans ended with a song dedicated to Swami’s birthday, where we wished Him with all our hearts.

The birthday programme continued with the SSE children’s rendition of Swami’s play that He performed as a child, with the central theme ‘practice what you preach’. The excellent performance by the children provoked many a thought about the actions that we as devotees are taking to ensure that Swami’s messages lives through our own thoughts, words and deeds.

Following this was a Youth musical item where they expertly sang Westlife’s ‘You raise me up’ and ‘Armiti Anahita’ with such devotion that the entire audience was moved by the love that the youth, our leaders of tomorrow, displayed for all to feel. Their heartfelt songs were followed by a bhajan medley where all the devotees joined in.

Harrow West was greatly privileged to have the distinguished speaker Dr Upadhyay sharing Swami’s Birthday celebrations from Prashanthi with us. He had flown from India to London the day before and was suffering from a sore throat and thus was unable to speak. However, when listening to the Youth musical recital, he experienced such devotion that he felt this throat had healed and he spoke to us with no difficulty. We were blessed to hear him tell us Swami’s message, his account of the story of Jay and Vijay, Narayan’s two inseparable companions and the love and devotion Meera had for Lord Krishna, moved us all.

Dr Upadhyay explained that we should pray to the Lord to come to this Earth not to grant us protection from evil, but for purity of love for the divine. His insightful talk provided all the devotees much inspiration to continue our journey towards divinity.

The birthday celebration ended with Mangala Aarthi followed by Maha Prasadham. Dr Upadhyay had kindly kept a rose from Swami’s Samadhi so that we could make our salutations to the Lord. This special day was both enjoyable and memorable as there were lessons for us to learn from.

Most importantly we were reminded of our mission to practice the five human values that we had seen demonstrated by our loving Swami in his physical body. We must remember that Swami lives among us, with us and inside us and through these celebrations we were reminded of this eternal truth.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Heston

Sunday 25th November we had started the joyful celebrations by chanting the Gayatri Mantra 108 times for the welfare of the whole world followed by Bhajans in praise of our Beloved Lord.

After offering the Aarti and seeking Bhagwans Divine blessings we welcomed all the devotees to our Centre. Our SSE Children read stories from Swami’s life that has brought great delight in all as they showed Swami's message of Love.

Later we had hosted a quiz to find out how much we really know about the life of Swami and events that occurred in Prashanthi Nilayam which was both insightful and great fun.

We were privileged to have Uncle Selva Kumar as the special guest speaker who highlighted to us the significance of celebrating the auspicious occasion as a step to analyse the growth within us in union with God, and share pure selfless love with all.

The Celebrations concluded with cake cutting from the Children and offering of Maha Prasadam. Overall at the end we spent the evening in a love-filled exhilaration as we all cried out in joy

"Our Dear Swami, here is my Love, Happy Birthday to you!!"

Jai Sai Ram

Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre of London West

Mother Sai’s 87th birthday celebrations will be a memorable day of happiness and divine joy for the SSE children, parents and devotees present at the London West Sai Centre. Each and everyone could feel swami’s presence as we all believed that HE was verily sitting on the chair and enjoying the events.

The celebrations started with the light meditation followed by Ganesh prayer, Gayatri prayer and Sai Gayatri chanting. A girl and a boy amongst the SSE children were chosen to do the offering of flowers during the chanting of ashtotram.

The SSE programme commenced with humble salutations to Mother Sai. As the narrator was offering the pranams, the youngest children of the batch offered roses at Swami’s padukas followed by birthday cards and chanting of the Slokas where the hall vibrated with the chanting of Sivopasana Mantram by all the SSE children.

Our young and enthusiastic SSE girls aged between 4 and 5 performed a very beautiful dance for the Anamacharya's Brahmammokate song, which emphasised our Swami's message that God is one but HIS forms and names are many.

Swami has always stressed parents should lead an exemplary life if they want their children to be good and come up in life, as they will follow their role models actions. Therefore, parents should tread the right path and set an ideal so that their children can emulate them. To bring out the above statement into reality, our SSE Boys staged a small skit named "Cheppinattu Chesthara?" with a flavour of wit and humour.

The skit had two scenes where in the first scene the son tells lies and the mother preaches to the child not to do so. Later the son finds that the mother too is telling lies and is totally confused with his mother’s behaviour. Before we teach our children to adhere to truth, we should practice it in our daily life. Only then can the children emulate us and become ideal.

The second scene was about not wasting food. The father stands out as an example to the son for not wasting food even though the food had no salt in it. The child later agrees that food is God, God is food and so we should not waste it. At the end all the SSE children promised to Swami that "Our Deeds would follow our Words" (Manamantha Cheppinatu Chesthamu).

All the tender and innocent hearts offered a musical treat to Swami by singing "Tumhi Ho Mata Pita Tumhi Ho". As they understood the meaning of the song so it was filled with devotion and love for the Lord. This was followed by a dance of the Gopikas in remembrance of Lord Krishna and his leelas by the SSE girls aged between 7 and 9 to a melodious Krishna Bhajan.

The children ended the programme with a thank you note to Swami for the wonderful opportunity and to all the parents and elders for their support and guidance. Bhajans were sung immediately and everyone joined the children in singing the very happy and joyful birthday song while the cake was being cut.

The whole celebrations ended with Arathi, Vibhuthi and the distribution of Prasad. It had been a day of bliss and inner peace to all who gathered for the special occasion.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Pinner

Unity in Diversity, the life and times of Sri Sathya Sai Baba
In celebrating Swami’s birth anniversary, we wanted to rekindle the mission and message of Sai, to really remember how to make our lives His message. For this reason, everything for the programme resounded and reflected the life and times of Baba, for instance instead of blowing out candles on Swami’s Birthday, our wonderful SSE Students lit candles, one for each of the 9 points in the code of conduct before cutting the cake, reminding us to cut ego out of our lives.

Bhakti Yoga
Three Aumkars and powerful prayers were recited followed by heartfelt bhajans sung with such devotion and the icing on the cake was that all of the bhajans sung were those which Swami Himself had sung.

Emotions were further stirred by three guest speakers who shared some wonderful experiences in which Swami showed His omnipresence and His ever present helping hand.

Karma Yoga
Continuing the vein of the message and mission, the young adults and the Group 4 students launched the Go Greener project, inviting our centre members to practise ceiling on desires. Each month we will be collecting clothes to be re-cycled and focusing on better care for ourselves, those in need, and our environment.

Gyan Yoga
The morning concluded with a beautiful most aptly named and thought-provoking video entitled “Who Am I”, reminding each of us as to why Swami had come on this earth and to cause pause for reflection on whether we each are practising his teachings