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Love and Light

Region 1 - 87th Anniversary of the Divine Advent

Bromley Sai Centre

Brommly centre Celebrated Beloved Baba’s Birthday on 23rd November at the United Reformed Church in Bromley. Around 70 devotees attended the event. The evening commenced with chanting of the Lord Ganesha mantras, Gayatri mantras and Sai Gayatris followed by the Paduka Namaavali and Devotional Bhajans. The young Balvikas children then sang Bhajans while the older ones showed us drawings which they had made with some of Swami’s sayings written on them. They then sang an adapted Beatles song – I wanna hold your hand. Our Guest Speaker was Brother Vicknesh, who spoke about the meaning of Surrender and then how we should not compare ourselves to others - just to be ourselves is the best way. He sang part of a Bhajan from the heart, and said that we should sing like Mira who sang with such great devotion that Lord Krishna appeared before her. He concluded by saying : Life without God is like an unsharpened Pencil - it has no point. Beautiful Solo Bhajans performed by Dr. Sharavanan Jeyanathan followed and also Devotional singing by some of our Centre members. The Dhun (Om Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Babaaya Namaha) was sung in Unison which gave very strong Vibrations. Cutting of the Birthday Cake, the Birthday Song and the Closing Prayers brought a finish to the evening; all that was left then was to enjoy Baba’s tasty Birthday Prasadam - which we all did – Thank you Swami.

Kingston Sai Centre

Lots of devotees came in early in the morning to help set up the hall and the alter. We had a delightful "Krishna's and Gopi's" dance performed by the SSE children , a beautiful flute performance by one of our SSE boys, a wonderful musical offering from our youth and an inspiring speech from one of Swami's students. The celebrations went very well and we ended with Swami's birthday song and aarati.

Thornton Heath

We celebrated Swami’s birthday on 22nd November at our usual Thursday bhajan session. Few devotees came early to decorate the altar to make the venue more welcoming and pleasing for devotees. We started with 3 aums, Ganesh sholka, 3 Gayatri mantras, 108 naam astotras followed by bhajans. After the last bhajan the usual happy birthday song was sung 3 times, during with time the candles were lit on the home made cakes made by one of our devotees. We are a small group, round about 50 devotees attended.

Lewisham Sai Centre

The day that is special in history of His story, a day that marks the advent of His Divine presence, 23 November was celebrated with great fervour at Lewisham Sai Centre. In the evening, the hall was gorgeously decorated with flowers & cloth hanging & warm welcome extended to Guest Speaker Reverend Leonora van Gils.

The programme commenced at 18.00 with Paduka Abhishekam & 108 Sri Sathya Sai Ashtotras followed by Introductory address by the Centre chair and other members who threw light on the beautiful Messages of Bhagawan emphasizing the underlying unity of all religions and the fundamental message of love and peace. Thus, we see today, devotees professing different faiths being drawn to Bhagawan from all over the world and deriving the bliss of celebrating this festivity in His Divine presence.

SSE children enacted a Play, who gave a nice presentation. The drama was a treat to watch and feast to listen. At the end of the programme these SSE were felicitated. Guest Speaker Reverend Leonora van Gils, a business woman, who came to know about Sathya Sai Baba first time in 1995 through a book and proceeded to Puttaparthi. She shared her initial experience as extra-ordinary witness to His miracles in her address to the audience and narrated her first inter-action with Bhagawan and revealed that Sai Baba, without any introduction, announced her name and place she hailed from. She was impressed and fully convinced about His divinity & omnipresence. Paying her obeisance to Bhagawan, she said that whatever she achieved in life. After few Bhajans, “Aarthi” was offered and Prashadam was distributed to devotees, consisting of 350. Everyone enjoyed the event, which was really vibrating and relished the Prashadam.

Brixton Sai Centre

The celebration commenced with Vedic chanting, multi faith prayers, recitation of Swami’s 108 names, followed by group devotional singing. The SSE children presented a beautiful offering to Bhagawan in a form of a play entitled, 'The Consequences of One's Act'. The play, adapted from a Middle Eastern tale set in Iraq, took the audience on a wonderful journey. The children brought tears of laughter to their eyes and ended with a valuable message by Bhagawaan: ‘Desire is storm, Greed is whirlpool, Pride is precipice, Attachment is avalanche, and Ego is volcano. Discard these and you will be liberated. Desire is a bonfire that burns with greater fury, asking for more fuel. Desire is the sole cause of sorrow and distress. You should distinguish right from wrong and be honest, upright and virtuous’. Towards the end of the programme, devotees heartily sang, 'Aayaa Janam Din Tumhaaraa' (Your birthday has come), during which the SSE children gathered around the beautifully adorned cake to cut it. A full meal was served to all thereafter. It was touching to see every individual take great care and attention in the planning and preparations leading to the very special day. It is not possible to describe the love and unity that shone through every individual. The presence of our beloved Bhagawaan was greatly felt in every heart.

Merton Sai Centre

At any Sai centre or institution, the annual celebration of Swami's Divine Advent is a landmark within the calendar of festivals and events. Having celebrated Swami’s Birthday in the Sai Mandir, on the 23rd November, for the past 31 years, this year was no exception.

The active members of Merton Sai Centre had worked for several months prior to the actual Day, planning and preparing the Mandir and adjoining Temple Dining and Upper Halls for the more than 800 devotees who come every year to share the joy of this most special of days. The main altar in the Mandir was decorated in regal fashion and Swami's special Jhoola decorated and installed for the occasion. Special, beautifully decorated altars were created in each of the other two halls, and audio-visual links to the Sai Mandir ensured that even those who were not able to get into the Mandir, were still able to see the main altar and the various ceremonies that would take place. In addition, many dedicated seva ladies made and packed over 1000 bags of Prasaadam to distribute to the congregation at the end of the celebrations.

The evening began with a group of our SSE students, who have been attending our regular Vedam Classes and are taught by one of the Sai brothers from Swami’s University in Puttaparthy. The beauty and intonation of these young voices was a joy to listen to, harmonising with the reverberating chants of Sridhar Iyer from the adjoining Ghanapathy Temple, who accompanied them and also performed Aarathi after each verse of the Jhoola Song, as a picture of Swami was rocked gently on the Mandir’s carved wooden Jhoola.

The dedication and devotion of the young SSE children, youth and adult singers and instrumentalists, who led the bajan singing later that evening, shone through the beauty and perfect pitch created from the many weekly practices they had in the months before the celebrations. The priest also performed Mangala Aarathi at the end of a vibrant and blissful Bhajan, after which he recited Vedic slokas and hymns, including Sanyaasa Suktam, in adoration of the Lord. The uniting of the congregation in singing Swami's Birthday Song, Tere Janam Din Mey Sai Tujhe Koti Pranaam Karenge ('O Lord Sai, on this day, the Anniversary of Your Divine Advent, we offer a million salutations to You'), marked a heart-stirring moment within the passage of the celebrations.

It would be impossible to make a blanket quantification of 'how well' the celebrations went on the Day. Based solely on physical and material criteria, more than 1000 devotees came throughout the day and for the evening programme to the Mandir, to offer their salutations and prayers to our beloved Lord on this most special of days. Each would have taken away their own feelings of peace and joy, unbeknownst to the group of dedicated volunteers – Sai brothers and sisters, who worked tirelessly (as they do throughout the year) to ensure that this permanent place of worship for Swami continues to serve the needs of His devotees in the UK. But a small, beautiful incident we learnt of later may help us understand that the work that is done in His name goes far beyond what we understand;
Traditionally, some of the young SSE children are chosen to cut the many cakes that are made and brought to the Mandir for Swami on His Birthday. This year, as the bajans were drawing to a close, one of the seva volunteers realised that there was no-one to cut one of the cakes in the upper hall. He had noticed a small boy sitting near the front of the hall throughout the celebrations, fully concentrated on Swami’s picture, praying and smiling and joyfully clapping and singing throughout the bajans. He wasn’t dressed in white and white, but he recognised that he was one of the SSE children, and the young child’s one pointed devotion was such that he felt compelled to ask him if he would like to cut Swami’s cake at the end of the celebrations. The shock and absolute joy on the child’s face was enough for him to know he had made the right choice and, after the celebrations were over, the child’s mother came to the sevadal member, with tears in her eyes, and explained that her son had, from a young age been a Sai devotee, and had brought the whole of the rest of the family to believe in Swami, which had given them strength and hope through some great difficulties they had undergone. And this small act by the sevadal member had meant so much to them, as a personal blessing from Swami.

Every devotee present will have received directly from Swami exactly what they needed. From witnessing the above, and many more incidents in the Mandir, it became very clear just how much Swami means to His devotees everywhere, in real and practical terms; how that Bond of Love exists between Him and them, and how this Love manifests itself ceaselessly in action. It could be seen in the tears of love flowing from the devotees, as footage of Swami was shown on the screen during the first few items of classical Indian music that day; it could be seen in the cheerful dedication of those looking after the devotees shoes outside in the freezing cold, in the conscientiousness, diligence and inexhaustible devotion that went into the preparations as a whole - from making the Birthday cakes to decorating the Mandir; in the sheer power and volume of the chorus provided by the devotees during the Bhajans and prayers; and in the silence and serenity of those devotees who, in the midst of discharging their worldly duties, with Swami ever fixed in their hearts, make it a point never to miss these Birthday Celebrations.

But, above all, this Love could be seen most evidently from the inner joy radiating from everyone – the inner joy that only Swami can give, in reciprocation for one's devotion and ongoing spiritual yearning, as the programme for the evening concluded with the prayer for peace for the individual, peace for the community and peace for the world.......Om Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi.

Tooting Sai Centre:

Tooting Sai Centre celebrated Swamis 87th birthday first with house bhajans on 23 November and then combined with ladies day celebrations at the centre on Sunday 25 November 2012. On Sunday 25th, the proceedings started with multi faith prayers, then a havan with appropriate offerings into the kund and recitation of the 108 names of Bhagwan, during when all present joined in the puja, saffron coloured rice grains were offered to individual photos of our beloved bhagwan followed by bhajans and a reading. After a short comfort and refreshments break all were once again seated, eagerly awaiting the next events, which started with experiences of Swami, first from a parent who shared how her child attending SSE has helped her then a centre member who now lives in the USA shared how Swamis leelas have helped her family and finally a devotee who now lives in Spain told us how Swami help his son, the story was so moving that many in the audience were in tears. The next event was a devotee playing the “Raag Brindabani Saran" on the Bansuri (indian flute) - a playful song and the sound which was heard when Lord Krishna was born, the sound was Divine. Following this was piece set in rag Yaman played on the sitar and tablas with a background video of Bhagwans darshan, this truly transported all present to the tranquillity of Prasanthi Nilayam. A six year old SSE student then entertained all with a dance piece based on pure jathis (beats) which contains intricate sequence of steps. The final event was an offering to bhagwan by the young adults of the centre. The inspiration for this offering came from their recent music retreat, in which they spent a few days away in the Surrey countryside, being inspired and learning new material. The repertoire included a medley of bhajans and other various songs as well as a piece composed by all of them collectively. The programme concluded with the Birthday song and cutting of a homemade cake, aarti and maha prasadam prepared lovingly by the ladies of the centre. The centre ladies participated in the in all aspects of the programme as well as beautifully setting the alter and providing the delicious Prasad. The programme came to an end, and everyone who attended felt thoroughly rejuvenated

Mitcham

Swami’s Birthday Celebrations were held on Friday 30th November. We had Sai Padugha Puja for the continuous chanting of Gayatri Mantra followed by bhajans where children, Youth and adults participated. A beautiful birthday cake that was cut by all the children when all devotees sang the famous birthday song for our beloved Lord - followed by Arthi and Vibuthi mantra. We then had a brief interactive session about the significance of Sai Birthday when HE had declared that HE has no birth or death.
We then had Maha-prasadam

Chessington

Celebration was held on Thursday 22nd November with special bhajan.