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Love and Light

Region 5 - Akhanda Bhajans

The region 5 Akhanda Bhajan for 2013 was jointly organised by Halifax, Leeds and Bradford centres at the Hudawi Cultural centre, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. The preparations for the event began well in advance with good support from the centre chairs and spiritual co-ordinators from all over the region. The altar set up and the decoration of the venue was done on the day prior to the event. The altar was beautiful and very well thought of. We had pictures from all religions displayed on the altar thus spreading the message of unity of faiths. Devotees arrived early on the day braving the cold weather, and the event started promptly at 8am. Ganesh Vandana followed by the first anuvaka of The Sri Rudram set a vibrant tone for the rest of the day.

Dr Shankar Kuchibatla, the chairperson for the Halifax group welcomed the gathering and reminded us that Swami initiated the Akhanda Bhajan way back in 1945 with around 8 families participating. By his divine sankalpa it eventually grew into an annual global event. This spiritual exercise aimed at world peace is held all over the world 2 weeks before Swami's birthday as an inaugural event of the birthday celebrations.

The bhajans started immediately after the welcome address and were sung until 4pm. The vibrations from the beautiful group singing of the Bhajans supported by the instrumentalists transported everyone present to the holy Prashanthi Nilayam. The centre chairs collected bhajans from devotees much in advance and the bhajan lists were made prior to the event. The bhajan singing on the day was seamless without any interruptions. All the bhajans along with the meanings were projected on the screen in power point.

The SSE students, the budding lead singers of tomorrow, sang Swami's sweet Bhajans in an exemplary fashion. Around 20 SSE children participated and sang for nearly an hour. The SSE gurus worked very hard with the children during the practices and made this possible. The SSE bhajans and the Unison Bhajans from various Centres were the new additions to this year's format of the programme. The Unison Bhajans (Group singing) reflected the devotion, discipline and practice that the various singers had. The PA team monitored and regulated the audio system to enable good acoustics throughout the session. The event was live streamed to help the devotees who could not attend. This year by Swami’s grace we had representation from the Bahai, Christian and the Hindu faiths at the Akhanda Bhajan. Mrs. Christine Deihim of the Bahai faith sang beautifully and surcharged the whole atmosphere. She chose two songs and two prayers that reflected the message of Universal love. One of the songs titled ' your new family' was very appropriate to the occasion. It conveyed a simple yet profound message that all the human beings are like the stars in the sky and that there is no difference between one another. She then prayed about the one ness of god, oneness of religion and one ness of man.

The Bhajan mandali from the Sri Laxmi Narayan Temple in Bradford sang Bhajans in beautiful Hindi beseeching the Lord's grace. The bhajans were upbeat and refreshing. In the afternoon session Mayizhi Patricia Chiseyengi & party of ' Christian United Harmonies' ,Leeds sang beautiful hymns and Christian prayers both in English and African dialect. One of the songs titled “It is well with my soul” conveyed how one’s prayers help in nailing the sins to the cross. The hymns resonated the teaching of Namasmarana that is dear to our Lord.The singer’s full throated and harmonious singing brought joy and tears to the audience.

The final hour of the session included fast paced and joyful Sai Bhajans which enthralled everyone. The evening concluded with the Sarva Dharma prayer, Arathi to Swami and the Vibhuthi mantra. The culmination and 'the icing on the cake' was the beautiful video of Swami's darshan which was shown at the end. Dr Vijayanand Nadella, Spiritual coordinator for our region said that this whole event recharged us spiritually, helping us to keep our connection as one family. He reminded us of how dear Namasmarana was to our Lord and that it is the royal path for this age. The individual spiritual transformation is the real 'vote of thanks' that our dearest lord would expect. Tasteful and satwik prasad was served at breakfast and lunch. The kitchen team started the cooking preparations quite early in the morning braving the cold weather. The devotees were served with extreme patience and love. The smooth conduct of the proceedings was facilitated by dedicated volunteers who ensured that the devotees were served with love all during the day. We experienced the divine presence of our beloved Swami throughout the Bhajans and the whole event was indeed a thrilling experience to all of us.

Dr Ram