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Serve the Planet: Global Initiative to Celebrate Avatar Declaration Day

"I always conduct Myself in accordance with the principle of Help ever, Hurt never. This has been My motto. I never harmed anyone. I derive great joy in helping others. That is why I tell the devotees to always pray, Loka Samasthah Sukhino Bhavantu (May all the people of the world be happy!) All should be happy, healthy and blissful. With such sacred motive, I have been spreading the message of love to the entire world." –Sri Sathya Sai Baba 20th October 2002

20th October 1940 is an historic date in the lives of devotees, when Bhagawan declared to the world His Divine Avatar and His Divine Mission for the transformation and redemption of humanity.

As part of the global celebrations of this joyous occasion this year, devotees all across the United Kingdom joined hands in the bond of His Love and participated enthusiastically in 3 main activities:

  1. Providing food items to local food banks in the week leading up to October 20th
  2. Narayana Seva – serving food on October 20th to the homeless and those in need
  3. Nama Seva – Chanting the divine name of the Lord 100, 000 times and praying for those in need during a special Laksharchana programme

Food Banks

With the Inspiration and Blessings of Bhagawan, it is heartening to note that there was an overwhelming response from the devotees in various Centres and Groups in all the 8 Regions of our Organisation.

It was humbling to witness children, young adults, the elderly, both men and women from around the country participate in this service activity, beating with one heart in love, and serve their fellow beings in local communities who are in urgent need of food items. ‘Coincidentally’, in the week that our devotees were engaged in this selfless activity, the Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust which spearheads the Food Bank Network in UK, appeared on BBC and ITV news channels to make a public appeal highlighting the increasing demand and the immediate need for food in many communities in UK! [http://www.trusselltrust.org/media-coverage]

This activity has encouraged and inspired many devotees to continue and sustain the delivery of food items on a regular basis, and to serve as Food Bank Volunteers, through their Sai Centres and groups. The Trussell Trust too has recognised the participation and the enthusiasm shown by our Sai devotees. Below are some extracts from the letters written to us by the Food Banks:

“Through your support your donation of food will reach out to many families and single people in the Hillingdon community. Thank you for the difference you have made in those lives.
May God bless you all for this amazing contribution and the initiative you have taken to make a contribution to the wellbeing and development of the people in our communities” – Hillingdon Food Bank

“The food donated will go towards feeding members of the community in desperate need for a couple of days.
Thanks for your demonstration of love and generosity extended to the local People of Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield through the Food bank.
Your commitment to helping to provide food to local people in crisis in the surroundings of Welwyn and Hatfield communities is sincerely appreciated.
Through this initiative, we have seen many lives changed for the better. The goal of the Welwyn/Hatfield Food bank is to continue to make a difference in the helping local people in crises by providing them with emergency food. With the help of donations from supporters like you, we will continue to see improvements.” – Hatfield Food Bank

“Every week we encounter heart breaking stories and your support means we are able to help and empower some of the most vulnerable people living on our doorstep.
The majority of people needing foods are those facing issues over their benefits, whilst for others low income means they cannot afford to feed themselves or their families. We could not help these people out without your generous support” – Lewisham Food Bank

Activity highlights in UK: 'Serve The Planet' - Global Avatar Declaration Day Celebrations

Narayana SevaFood Banks49 Food Banks were served4.5 tonnes of food items were delivered
Narayana SevaHomeless Shelters11 Shelters were served1000 guests were served (approximately)
Nama SevaLaksharchana200 devotees participated

Feeding the Homeless and Elderly

On the sacred day of Avatar Declaration 20th October, devotees in all the 8 Regions served food to the needy such as the homeless and the elderly in Shelters, through meals-on-wheels, and the sandwich and soup kitchens. Below are the reflections of joy and gratitude shared by devotees from around the UK:

“On avatar declaration day the youth of Region 1 assisted with cooking food at spires homeless centre.
Youth volunteers assisted in preparing food from Lewisham, Kingston and Tooting centres with the food items also being donated from other centres in Region 1.
It was a great team effort making a great curry serving up to 100 homeless people.” – Region 1

“Harrow East Sai Centre attended the Narayana Seva at Mother Theresa Home. Devotees prepared food and served for 250 Homeless people” - Region 2

“On the 20th October (Avatar Declaration Day), a group of youth from various Sai Centres across Region 3 (Ilford, Manor Park, Walthamstow, Bedford, Thurrock) assembled at 5:45am in East London, and set off to Central London, for Narayana Seva.

The day before (Sat 19th), a few youth from Ilford Sai Centre had prepared 54 'lunch bags', which contained various eateries - chocolate, crisps, pastries, etc. We also prepared 6 cans of Coffee and Tea dispensers. The area where we served was along the STRAND (not far from Embankment Station). We split into 3 groups, and went along various parts of the STRAND. All in all, we served 60+ homeless individuals.

We hope to serve on a regular basis and our next one will be on Sunday 8th Dec (early morning), and will form our 4th and Final YAP (Young Adult Programme) session of the year. We take inspiration from the theme of ‘Messenger’ discussed at the National Youth Conference in February 2013- so, a practical/service filled YAP activity. - Region 3

“The Bridge Project is a church led project which offers food (hot and cold) with light refreshments to those who are in need. Youth and adult volunteers participated in the service on Sunday 20th October. We are fortunate to be involved in this project every Sunday over the past many years.

Before the start, a prayer was recited by a church volunteer to thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity to serve and to offer the service with Love. Each volunteer had a different task to do, such as serving hot and cold food and drinks. During the service, I felt happy because I was doing a good deed. Our guests felt grateful and that made me realise how fortunate we really are to have food and a good quality of life. At the end around 4.30 pm, we wished them a good day. Since serving on this day, I always look forward to my Sundays helping out in such activities.” – Region 4

“Over 50 homeless people in the Bradford area were served by Lidget Green Sai Centre as part of their Curry Project Narayan Seva. This is a monthly service which will continue throughout the year” – Region 5

“Centres in Region 6 celebrated Avatar Declaration with prayers around the Region and also serving the homeless in the Farnham and Folkestone areas” – Region 6

“SSE children from Swindon led a service project at the Ridgeway nursing home, delivering tea, cakes and cards to the elderly residents. Bath centre participated in a sandwich run at the Julian House Homeless Shelter. In Cardiff, the Sai Centre served a special meal at the Huggard Homeless Shelter where they have been fortunate to participate since 2002” – Region 7

“Devotees from Glasgow serve on every Sunday at the Wayside Soup Kitchen. The youth prepared food, set up tables and chairs in the serving area and served approximately 80 homeless people” – Region 8

Laksharchana

As part of National offering of our love and gratitude at the Divine Lotus Feet of our Lord on the occasion of His Avatar Declaration Day on the 20th October, a Laksharchana Programme was conducted in Watford (London) for the welfare of the planet. The sacred chanting of the Divine Name 100,000 times was led by our respected and energetic elder Mr Vadgama . The programme commenced with uplifting bhajans (devotional songs) followed by a short address by Dr Kiran Patel, SSSSO UK Chairman. The chanting of the Laksharchana followed soon thereafter which generated tremendous vibrations with well over a hundred devotees chanting 'Om Sri Sathya Sai Krishnaya Namaha' in unison with one voice and one soul! They joined in the melodious bhajans that followed after every few chants. Devotees all over UK also joined in via the live video streaming of the event. Bhagawan’s presence was felt throughout. Devotees were greatly blessed by the manifestation of vibhuti on the padukas during this session, which was witnessed by all those assembled. It was truly a memorable conclusion to the Avatar Declaration Day celebrations!

A photo presentation of all the 3 activities offered will be uploaded to our ‘Serve the Planet’ website http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/servetheplanet/ at the end of November. Please do continue to send your photos and letters from Food Banks to servetheplanet@srisathyasai.org.uk and these will be incorporated.

We offer our most loving gratitude at the Lotus Feet of our Divine Master for the benevolence He has bestowed upon us! Let us pray for many more such opportunities to serve our fellow brothers and sisters in need. and for His continued guidance and inspiration.

‘Serve the Planet’
Coordinating Committee, SSSSO UK