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Love and Light

Region 1 - Maha Shivarathri Celebrations

"On Chathurdasi (the 14th night), the night of Shiva, only a fraction of the moon remains. If some special effort is made that night, through more intensive and vigilant Sadhana, like puja, japam, dhyana (ritual worship & meditation), success is ensured. Hence, Shiva must be meditated upon that night, every month, without the mind straying towards thoughts of sleep or food. Once a year, on Mahashivaratri, a special spurt of spiritual activity is recommended, so that the Shavam (corpse) can become Shivam (God), through perpetual awareness of its Divine Indweller. Dedicate the vigil of this Shivaratri night to the Shiva present within each one of you" - BABA

Holy Shivarathri was celebrated on a grand scale in Region 1 on Friday, 28th February. The celebrations were hosted by the Merton Sai Centre with the support of various other centres within the region. As in the past, the holy occasion provided us with an opportunity to work, pray and sing together.

On the evening of the 28th, the altar was beautifully decorated with Swami’s throne at the centre and the multifaith Sarvadharma Emblem above that. There were large pictures of Swami and Shirdi Sai Baba on either sides, each adorned with large Chrysanthemum garlands. Two Shiva Lingams that were materialized by Swami were kept on the either sides of the altar.

The sacred evening began at 4:30pm with the chanting of three Aums, Gayathri mantra and Sai Ashtotharam (108 names of our Lord). This was immediately followed by an offering of Abhishekam to the Saeeshwara Lingams. After the Linga Abhishekam, the group of vedic chanters who had assembled there performed the Rudra Ekadashi parayanam (i.e. chanting the Sri Rudram 11 times). Rudra Ekadashi is performed by chanting the entire Namakam 11 times prior to each of the eleven verses of Chamakam. The Namakam portion of Rudram offers prostrations to different forms of the Lord while the Chamakam portion of the Rudram seeks for spiritual, mental, emotional and physical benefits.

Upon the completion of Rudra Ekadashi parayanam, the regional SSE children offered their prayers by chanting few vedic mantras such as the Shivopasana Mantra, Medha Suktam, Narayana Upanishad and Mantra Pushpam.

The elaborate vedic chanting session enhanced the spiritual vibrations of the gathering and set the stage for the bhajans which began around 8:15pm. The bhajans were initially led by the regional SSE children who sang with a lot of devotion and enthusiasm.

This was followed by the singing of bhajans by various centres and regional youth members during their respective time slots. Each group arrived in a well-disciplined manner and offered their prayers in a loving way. It was a delight to experience the harmony with which the entire night progressed and one could certainly feel the presence of our Divine Master through the night.

Prasadam and refreshments were served all night by dedicated volunteers who looked after the comfort of the assembled devotees.

At 5am in the morning, the bhajans were briefly paused to awaken the Lord within each of our hearts with the chanting of Omkaram and Suprabhatam. The final hour of bhajans began with a beautiful rendering of an alaap and bhajan in Raag Bhoopali. The bhajans concluded with the offering of mangala arathi to our Lord. The whole night was indeed a great spiritual exercise that filled each of our hearts with His Love and minds with His thoughts!

Region 1 Team