Text size: A A A

Please Click Here
to Return to
Love and Light

National Birthday Celebrations 2014

As one person put it, this was the event that kicked off a week (if not longer) of celebrations of our dear Lord’s 89th birthday across the country. Yes, the National Birthday celebrations, titled “Love is My Form,” were held in Wandsworth Town Hall, London, on Saturday 15 November.

Altar at Entrance to Wandsworth Civic Centre – presenting a Grand Welcome

Altar on the First Floor of Wandsworth Civic Centre – keeping everyone connected

Proceedings started with three aums but, instead of being followed by the usual prayers or devotional songs, our National Vice-Chair, Veeru Rao, described the Advent of our Lord by reading out a very powerful passage describing the events that surrounded the birth of the Incarnation of Lord Sathya Sai, 88 years ago in Puttaparthi, a remote unknown little village in Andhra Pradesh, India at the time. Accompanying his reading was the playing of musical instruments and other sounds, just as was the case during that holy nativity. This was followed by a recitation of the Guru Paadukaa Stotram (verses adoring the sandals of the Supreme Teacher) accompanied by SSE children who walked towards the stage carrying trays with lights.

This was followed by a traditional dance presented by SSE children from Wimbledon Sai Centre, Region 1. The audience was captivated by the four little girls who expressed themselves so beautifully through their rhythmic bodily movements and emotional expressions.

SSE (Sai Spiritual Education) Children Dance & Preamble to the Programme

Dr Kiran Patel, Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) then delivered the welcome address, where he described the different facets of Bhagawan Baba and shared experiences of His Divine Love for humanity that demonstrated His innate nature. It was not surprising that the event was themed ‘Love is My Form’.

A real treat during the first half of the programme was an item, “Living in Love,” presented by alumni of the Sathya Sai educational institutions from India who current residein the UK. Primarily taking the form of a dialogue between two or three students, interspersed with songs and video clips, the audience was treated to a vivid reminder through numerous personal anecdotes of how Baba was a loving mother as well as a stern but caring father. Examples included how He would await His students’ return from a day of Graama Seva (village service) activity, foregoing food in the process; or how He narrated to one student what was happening to his parents in Uganda at the time of their eviction from the country, whilst simultaneously saving them from further trouble via a physical form He assumed of a local African. We also learned that, when the students would long and crave for His attention after a seemingly endless period of His ignoring and evading them for the sake of educating them for the better, their weapon would be songs such as “O Sai Maa” (O Mother Sai) – which worked every time, since Lord Sai was like butter melting away with the warmth and outpouring of Love! On another occasion, when asked on one’s approach, given that we could treat Him as our mother, father, or a friend, Baba responded that it was best we regarded Him as a guru (Teacher) because then He would be able to take charge of our lives.

Alumni of the Sathya Sai Institutions sharing their close moments with Bhagawan Baba

Following a rousing rendition of “Tere Janam Din Me Sai” (Your birthday, Sai) and cake-cutting by SSE children, the Mayor of Wandsworth then addressed the audience. Councillor Stuart Thom cited the five human values, as espoused by Bhagawan Baba, as being essential to today’s society.

Audience entertained during the programme & Cake Cutting Ceremony led by Children

After a scrumptious and delightful lunch, the audience was treated to a suite of devotional songs, rendered in a variety of languages, melodies and tunes – in English, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and French and accompanied by a group of very accomplished young musicians. We felt instantly transported to the Divine abode of Sathya Sai where such wonderful performances are performed in His presence.

Mayoral Address being Delivered by Councillor Stuart Thom & Musical offering by the youth performers

Then came what was the icing on the cake for the many devotees who had gathered: a talk by the veteran devotee Mrs Phyllis Krystal, our keynote speaker. Still going strong at the age of 100, it was inspiring to hear her thoughts, speaking from personal experience and also from unswerving and steadfast faith with Him. Phyllis started by narrating how she had felt unwell the previous day, but that she prayed not to let us down! Such selflessness! She revealed that she always asked Baba to speak through her; she had been getting a clear message from Baba that she should be speaking about Love, so that formed the subject of her talk. Phyllis enlightened the audience how to connect to Swami, Heart to Heart, by asking all to imagine a physical connection between His heart and ours. His Love was our birth right, she said, something that we ought not to feel reluctant to request. All were entitled to His pure Love. She then explained how one could give this pure Love to others via a simple visualisation technique. She remarked that the world was currently lacking Love, so it desperately needed Love to spread. This seemingly simple technique was quite powerful and many afterwards expressed a desire to practise it on a regular basis. Fittingly, Phyllis Krystal received a standing ovation at the end.

Musical offering by the youth performers & Phyllis Krystal sharing her experience of Love

The final item, a high point of the day, was a performance by the accomplished vocalist Sairam Iyer. Those unfamiliar with his repertoire were taken aback when, as he sang the film devotional song, “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” (Truth, Auspiciousness, Beauty), out of his mouth came a female voice! Indeed, many present would have said that it was as if the original singer, Lata Mangeshkar herself, was present! Expressing his gratitude to Baba for His Grace and Blessings innumerable times, Sairam Iyer demonstrated his amazing proficiency and gift in singing using both male and female voices. He kept the audience spellbound by his performance. Sairam Iyer ended his performance by singing a few group devotional songs, a fitting end to this memorable celebration of Sathya Sai Baba’s Birthday.

Musical finale by Sairam Iyer

When the end came, as it inevitably does, people left with smiles on their faces and a warmth in their hearts. There was a good feeling all around, a sense of gratitude to Bhagawan Baba for the opportunity of being part of the elevating programme. One could not forget the selfless work by the army of volunteers who assisted with tasks such as hall and altar set-up, audio-video, food preparation and car park duty. It left one and all from across the country feeling uplifted and motivated to be part of His Divine mission and uphold His teachings.

Roni Ramdin - Brixton Sai Centre, R1
Sakthi Shanmugathasan - R1 Spiritual Coordinator