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Love and Light

Region 3 - Hatfield Sai Centre Celebrates 34th Anniversary

One of the first Sai Centres in the UK, Hatfield Sai Centre was inaugurated on the 20th January 1979 with the support of London Sai Centre. Over the past 34 years it has served as parent to many other Sai Centres; Luton, Stevenage , Watford, Palmers Green, North Finchley, Chelmsford and Cambridge Sai Group to name a few. It’s founder D. Amirthanandan (uncle Amir) served on the UKCC between 1989-91 and today at the ripe age of 91 continues with bhajan practice and group bhajan at his home on a regular basis with his wife (aunty) Pathma.

My parents and I joined Hatfield Sai Centre in early 1985. My first memories were of attending bhajan practice at uncle and aunty’s home and subsequent centre bhajans. In those days Information was not freely available and much of Swami’s teachings only existed through books and publications, the wealth of books brought from Puttaparthi by devotees and of course the immense experiences of devotees who were fortunate to have direct interaction with Swami.

Uncle Amir was determined to introduce English bhajan singing at the centre and many of the English bhajans that are in circulation today emanated from Hatfield. He recognised that language was an immediate barrier and that the Hindu-centric format of worship and the singing of bhajans in Indian languages may turn away local interest.

Aunty Pathma, along with Pradip Travedi and June Jackson conducted Bal Vikas (SSE) in those days and I have fond memories of performing plays and musical items at Battersea Town Hall under the then leadership of Mrs Rajes Sivayogan and the various prayers and bhajans we learnt in class.

On Saturday 26th January 2013 we celebrated our centre’s 34th anniversary with a special programme. The theme of the programme was to promote a renewed focus on multi-faith activities in our local community and to invite devotees to reflect upon the benefits of association with the world faiths. The aforementioned brother Pradip Travedi was our first guest speaker and took us on a reflective journey on the direction that Hatfield Sai Centre had taken over the years, our process of transformation both as a community and as individuals and the exponential growth of activities at Centre, national and global level. He talked about the significance of unconditional Love and the importance of our interactions with the Divine and narrated several personal interactions with Swami. He concluded by outlining the relevance that multi-faith played in broadening our understanding of others and developing Love and of the significant role that elders played in mentoring the youth of today towards furthering Baba’s teachings through greater awareness of other Faiths.

His talk was greatly received and was followed by Sister Rani Naidoo, our second guest speaker. She talked to us about how multi-faith interaction was being conducted by Sai centres across the world and opened up discussion with the centre audience of the benefits of learning about other faiths. Some of the responses included ‘Tolerance’, ‘Breaking down barriers’, ‘One God, many paths’, ‘Expansion of love’, ‘Seeing God in all’. She then went on to describe the recent success of the multi-faith concert held at our centre and discussed future upcoming multi-faith events, including a study circle in preparation for discussion of ‘food, fasting and drink’. The topic is intended to explore Sai teachings on the subject, covering both spiritual and social aspects, so that as a Sai community we are enabled to communicate the same message when asked. Sister Rani concluded with a Buddhist Prayer played from the multi-faith ‘One World – International Songs’ CD presented to and blessed by Swami in August 2007 (produced by Sathya Sai Human Values Network UK in 2008. For further information please email: daksha.trivedi@btconnect.com)

Sister Ranje Sivakumar, our Chair, concluded our programme with a vote of thanks for our guest speakers and for attendance by devotees. She welcomed a renewed focus on multi-faith and announced that Akhand Bhajans this year would be shared with participation by other faith groups.

by Ganesh Yoganathan