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Love and Light

Region 1 - Tooting Sai Centre Birthday Celebrations

On Sunday 23rd November Tooting Sai Centre celebrated our beloved Baba’s 89th birthday with a vibrant, music and drama filled programme put together by the children of SSE, Youth and Adults members. The elaborate staging, set up of the hall, practice sessions for the various performers on stage, the magnificent altar set up and the general catering arrangements had already been planned for the previous day. As this is one of two highlights of the Centre activities each year, there was an eager anticipation by the devotees as to what the programme would unfold.

We invited Swami to join us for the programme at 9.30am by commencing with the peaceful chanting of prayers, followed by the 108 Sai Ashtotharam Naamavali performed by offerings to the fire in the Havan Kund and thereafter a wonderful, uplifting selection of bhajans.

The first item on the programme was the graceful Bharata Natyam dance performances by students of our SSE; Anjaliben and Saviben
This classical dance form is one of the oldest in the India, and uses dance, music, expression and rhythm to create a piece. The dance ended with a powerful performance by Reenaben, on the Shiva Tandava, depicting the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution of life.
Next, children from SSE excitedly offered their performances to Baba.

Group 1 Year 2 reminded us the importance of following the 9 Point Code of Conduct with a catchy song they created and sang so passionately. Then Group 3 Year 2 children performed a fantastic, funny, focused play entitled My Life is My Message. This depicted verses from the Bhaja Govindam (an 8th century composition by Adi Shankara) and thankfully made them applicable to daily life, 2014! It was certainly a thought provoking piece delivered fantastically, with the very clear messages to take home for the entire audience, children, youth and adults alike. We have always found that any poignant messages from our rich historical plays become more meaningful when translated into its 'modern day' equivalent.

Shortly after this we were in for a surprise performance! Centre members, including our very own centre chair took to the stage, leading by example to perform a comedy filled drama on the devotion of young Prahlad and the Narasimha Avatar. The shock of our members seeing the elders do this play brought a howl of laughter and fun element amidst the more serious message of the play. The costumes, props and backdrop for the stage were colourful and bold, catching everyone’s attention. The audience were mesmerized by the familiar story acted out with such passion. The story finished with a dramatic powerful scene of the Lord revealing himself to Prahlad in his ferocious form of half lion half man, to destroy the evil King Hiranyakasipu.

To finish the fun filled programme we were transported to what felt like Pranshanti Nilayam’s Kulwant Hall itself, with a special song selection sung beautifully in harmony with accompaniment by the harmonium, tabla, flute and guitar. The music was blissful and uplifting, with songs picked and arranged by youth members as a tribute to Swami, in Hindi, Sanskrit and English.

The programme ended with the cake cutting carried out by the children of SSE and thereafter everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch of hot prasad. Celebrations like this serve to galvanise the Centre and strengthen the bond between Swami, Centre members and the rest of their extended families.

Jitesh Patel & Rishni Patel
Tooting Sai Centre