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Love and Light

Echoes of 2015- June to December

Sai Smaran Bhajans

Following the joyous National Easwaramma Day celebrations in May, many events were organised with tremendous enthusiasm to mark the magnificent 90th Year of our Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Divine Advent. The 11th ‘Sai Smaran Bhajan session, a garland of six hours continual devotional singing of various divine names, was offered at the lotus feet of our beloved Swami in Hatfield (Hertfordshire) on the 6th June 2015. Around 300 devotees participated in this uplifting event. It brought the children, the youth and the elders together, all singing in unison the glory of God in one voice and in a variety of tunes, melodies and languages. The listening, remembering and contemplation of the divine name surcharged all those gathered with renewed energy.


Altar Set-Up during Sai Smaran Bhajans


Devotees offering their gratitude at Sai Smaran Bhajans

Pre-World Conference

A 3 day Pre-World Conference was held in Hatfield (Hertfordshire) , from 24th to 26th July 2015 as a precursor to the 10th Sathya Sai World Conference that was planned for November 2015 in Prasanthi Nilayam. The theme of the conference was 'Love is the Source; Love is the Path; Love is the Goal'. The conference focussed upon Love that epitomized and encapsulated the essence of Bhagawan's Life and Teachings; His Mission and Message. Selfless service was highlighted as the single, most efficient and universal tool for understanding, experiencing and expressing this Divine Principle of Love that Baba showed so beautifully.


Pre-World Conference - Altar Arrangement


Delegates in quiet contemplation during Prayer Session

The conference was attended by around 250 delegates. It brought together members of the organisation onto a common forum to study and discuss the profound truths given by Bhagawan in practical terms, learn from each other, energise each other, and to move forward in one’s spiritual quest along the path laid out clearly by Him. Dr. Narendranath Reddy, Chairman of Prasanthi Council; Ms. Marianne Meyer, Member, Prasanthi Council; and Mr Kishin Khubchandani, Zonal Chair delivered uplifting talks on love and selfless service.


Dr Narendranath Reddy addressing delegates


Mrs Marianne Meyer sharing her thoughts


Mr Kishin Khubchandani delivering his Talk


Panel Discussion with senior leadership

The conference Study Circles on Love and Service were led by former students of Swami’s educational institutions, who are currently resident in the UK, and with able support from the youth.


Study Circles on Love and Service being delivered to delegates

Youth and children from SSE also offered a musical programme and a drama. It was indeed a spiritually invigorating experience for all those who participated.


Musical Presentation by Youth


Dance Programme by the SSE

National SSE Pilgrimage

Inspired by the special year of Bhagawan’s Advent, a national SSE Pilgrimage was organised from UK to the divine abode of Prasanthi Nilayam. Titled, ‘Sai Mahima – Miracle of Love’, the pilgrimage lasted from the 28th July to 6th August 2015. 145 pilgrims participated, of which 60 were children. Several Sadhana meetings were arranged in the run up to the pilgrimage.

Prasanthi Nilayam provides an inspiring experience in all its activities - participating in elevating devotional singing, listening to inspirational talks, visiting important sites in and around Puttaparthi blessed by the divine touch but most importantly, feeling the Divine Presence every moment of one’s trip.

The children were doubly blessed when they were able to present a play in the divine presence in Sai Kulwant Hall on 2nd August 2015 on the theme ‘ Love for God, Fear of sin and Morality in society’. Their play mesmerized and brought immense joy to all those gathered. The children captivated the hearts of all those who gathered and watched this Play in the divine Presence.


SSE Boys Group fortunate to perform in the Divine Presence


SSE Girls Group who participated in the Play in the Divine Presence

The program ended with distribution of prasadam by devotees from UK; sacred gifts were presented to children by Sri R J Rathnakar, Trustee, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. It turned out to be a glorious evening for the pilgrims, both young and old which will be remembered by everyone for times immemorial.

International SSE Conference

During the pilgrimage, from 1st to 3rd August, several SSE teachers from UK also had the opportunity to participate in the International Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) Conference. Around 500 delegates from 50 countries took part. The conference provided a wonderful forum to share expertise, experiences and best practices to further enhance the SSE programme worldwide, which was so very dear to Bhagawan.

Prayers for Universal Peace

Sai devotees from around UK congregated for ‘Prayers for Universal Peace’ at the hallowed precincts of Sri Venkateswara Balaji Temple, Birmingham on 6th September. The special prayers were dedicated to the thousands of people migrating across Europe and to those that were rebuilding their lives after the Nepal earthquake disaster in July.


Offering Prayers on the auspicious occasion

It is said that the mark of a genuinely godly person is to strive not only for his or her peace and happiness, but also for the peace, prosperity and happiness of the world as a whole. Around 500 devotees participated with fervour, and many others joined from the general public. The prayers provided an occasion to pray collectively and selflessly for the removal of prevailing chaos and confusion, fear and anxiety in the minds of people in the world.


Devotees immersed in the sacred prayers

The auspicious day concluded with a soulful offering of devotional songs by Mrs. Deepa Hattangady, a renowned Hindustani Classical singer


Devotional Concert by Deepa Hattangady accompanied by Shivam Mistry (Left) and Kapil Dev Prashar (Right)

Sai Smaran

The Sai Smaran bhajans are usually conducted thrice a year, and this has been ongoing since the year 2012. So, the 26th September presented the third and final opportunity for the year, for devotees to recharge their spiritual batteries when the 12th ‘Sai Smaran’ devotional singing was offered in Birmingham. Around 300 devotees, many of them youth, took part spreading positive vibrations and cleansing the environment around.


Devotees immersed in the singing of the Divine Glory in Birmingham

Avatar Declaration Day

20th October is remembered as The Avatar Declaration Day of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a supremely significant divine benediction of Baba, when He revealed the purpose of His Divine Incarnation, many years ago in 1940.

Marking the auspicious occasion, UK witnessed a flood of spiritual activities on 18th October with the Serve the Planet Project - Human Values for Nation Building. Bhagawan’s Divine Mission is to help humanity realise and experience its inherent divine nature, through the practise of the Five Human Value; Trust, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non-violence; which has Love as their basis. “Love as thought is Truth, Love as action is Right Conduct, Love as feeling is Peace, Love as understanding is Non-Violence”. And the practise of Human Values can be best achieved through engaging in unconditional Service to all. Thus, the choice of this global theme for Serve the Planet in this Milestone 90th Year of the Sathya Sai Avatar was of great significance, energising all in their onward spiritual journeys.

Gratitude Day

Gratitude Day, ‘Sai Vandanam’, an historic first was a special day of gratitude celebrated at the Spinney Hall (Leicester) on the 18th October to honour and felicitate our revered elders aged over 70 years who had selflessly dedicated their lives to Baba’s Mission. They were pillars of inspiration for everyone to follow. The thought was inspired by the life of Bhagawan Baba when He had conducted the Bheema Ratha Santhi ceremony in Prasanthi Nilayam as an example for humanity to follow, to honour our elders.


Congregation of senior devotees during ‘Sai Vandanam’

We were privileged to have amidst us special guests, Ms Marianne Meyer from Denmark (member of Prasanthi Council and Director, Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation) and Ms Petra von Kalinowski from Germany (Zonal Chair).

The celebrations commenced with devotional singing followed by welcome address by Dr Kiran Patel, Council President of UK. Ms Petra von Kalinowski then addressed the gathering.


Ms Petra von Kalinowski addressing the gathering


Elders lighting a candle as their offering to Bhagawan


Mel Griffin felicitating our elders


Mrs Marianne Meyer felicitating our elders

Each elder was then felicitated and asked to light a candle at the divine feet; gifts were presented by the special guests and Mel Griffin (Trustee, Sathya Sai Trust, UK). Not one could hold back tears of joy and happiness and their gratitude to Baba. Two well-known devotees, Dr Kishan Gadhia and Mrs Lalitha Unnithan then shared their reflections of the day, their experiences and reminisced on the golden opportunity to serve Him. The programme concluded with a soulful musical offering and scrumptious lunch.


Dr Kishan Gadhia addressing devotees on his experiences


Mrs Lalitha Unnithan sharing her reflections on the day

Walk for Values

The Walk for Values programme followed the Gratitude Day. This was the first time that the Organisation had embarked upon a Walk for Values in the public arena with the objective of raising awareness and encouraging practise of Human Values of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non-violence whilst walking together in unity. Baba has always reminded us that human values were inherent in every being and that these had to be brought out. The Walk for Values was not intended to raise funds but for individuals to make a pledge to pick at least one value and practise it in daily life.

The route for the walk was in Leicester from Abbey Primary Community School to finish at Cossington Park. Around 300 people participated, both Sai devotees and the general public.


Walk for Values Gathering in Abbey Primary Community School

The programme commenced with welcome talks by Dr Kiran Patel, President of Sathya Sai International Organisation (UK) and Mr Dipak Fakey (OBE) representing Good Values Club. This was followed by inaugural speeches by Mr Tim Foster, Head of Abbey Primary Community School, Mrs Marianne Meyer, Councillor Rashmikant Joshi and Councillor Deepak Bajaj.


Dr Kiran Patel, President, SSIO (UK) addressing the gathering


Mr Dipak Fakey (OBE) representing Good Values Club addressing the gathering


Inaugural Function (seated from Left) - Mr Tim Foster, Mrs Marianne Meyer, Cllr Rashmikant Joshi and Cllr Deepak Bajaj

Rachel Shutter representing Refuge UK, a Charity that supports women and children from Domestic Violence then addressed the gathering thanking the Sai organisation for their generous support. 750 packs containing stationery for children and kitchen utensils for women were donated by the organisation on the day. This was a memorable experience with the public captivated by the walk and the message it was conveying.


Packs being donated to Rachael Shutter and Clare Cooper of Refuge UK

Rest of the country also celebrated the auspicious day by donating non-perishable food items to Trussell Trust Food banks. Around 2 tons of food items were donated.


Walk for Values participants starting Abbey Primary School


Values with smiles and excitement


Values pervaded through Melton Road, Leicester


Children Walking the Values


Old and Young participating in Walk for Values


Walk for Values culminating in Cossington Park, Leicester


Children were presented a Certificate of Attendance for Walk for Values

90th Birthday Celebrations

The much eagerly awaited, the zenith of all our activities of the year was at last with us when on the 8th November, we celebrated the grand 90th birthday celebrations of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.


Devotees participating in Sathya Sai Baba's 90th Birthday Celebrations

The theme was aptly titled “Avatar of Love” with the entire fraternity of Sai devotees abuzz and so was the prestigious venue of Watford Colosseum (London) which was chosen for this auspicious occasion. We were fortunate to have Dr Art-Ong Jumsai, Director of the Institute of Sathya Sai Education (Thailand) as our esteemed special guest. Over 800 devotees participated.

The programme commenced with energetic devotional songs and a procession by the SSE children which culminated in a cake cutting ceremony.


Children's Procession with devotional songs sung in the background


Baba's Cake Cutting Ceremony

This was followed by the welcome address by the council president Dr Kiran Patel. Dr Jumsai then addressed the gathering with great conviction and shared some of the beautiful moulding lessons he had learnt at the divine feet of Bhagawan. The erudite speaker also addressed devotees later in the afternoon.


Address by Dr Art-Ong Jumsai

The Programme also featured the ‘Sai Mahima – the Miracle of Love’ play, which was enacted in Prasanthi Nilayam by the SSE children from UK on 2nd August 2015.


SSE Children from the 'Sai Mahima' Offering their Gratitude

After lunch, there was a lively panel discussion moderated by two of the alumni from SSSIHL living in London, Mr Karthik Prasanth and Dr Anand Venkatramanan, the panellists being Mr Abhimanyu Kaul (alumni from SSSIHL), Dr Art-Ong Jumsai and Mr Shitu Chudasama (member of Prasanthi Council Books & Publications).


Panel Discussion (from Left)- Mr Karthik Prasanth, Mr Abhimanyu Kaul, Dr Art-Ong Jumsai, Mr Shitu Chudasama and Dr Anand Venkatramanan

We were also blessed to have the European YOUnity Band who had performed in the Divine Presence on numerous occasions. The group, consisting of highly talented musicians from various parts of Europe travelled to the UK to share their love and joy through their music on this auspicious occasion.


YOUnity Band from Europe offering a bouquet of musical and devotional songs

Roopa Panesar and her team of instrumentalists then transported the audience to greater realms with a mesmerising musical concert titled ‘Sai Bandhan – the Bond of Love’ and helped bring the programme to a memorable conclusion.


Musical Concert (from Left) - Ketheeswaran Saiganesh, Kaviraj Dhadyalla, Roopa Panesar and Rishi Choudhry

Global Akhand Bhajans

Many centres and regions of UK hosted Global Akhand Bhajans during 14-15 November. This singing is undoubtedly one of the most powerful spiritually unifying force that brings people together through loving faith in God, regardless of name or form. When such ceaseless, relentless prayers happen, His bounty of unceasing Grace ensues.

Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam

It was a historic occasion when UK was given the unique opportunity for the first time ever to decorate Prasanthi Nilayam, the abode of our Lord Sathya Sai Baba for the Christmas festivities. The theme for the Christmas Decorations was ‘I and my Father are One’. Around 250 devotees from UK participated wholeheartedly in helping with Christmas decorations in the divine abode between December 5th 2015 to January 5th 2016 at different time intervals.


Devotees at work making decorations


Christmas Team moving the decorations

One had to step into Sai Kulwant Hall and note the difference. The entire arena appeared like a glorious cathedral! Not surprisingly, Radio Sai called it ‘The Cathedral of Christmas Joy’. Never before did the magnificent hall resemble a resplendent church. Befitting the occasion, the Darshan House of the Lord, the spacious Sai Kulwant Hall bore unique decorations with colourful Christmas theme adorning all over. Rare, beautiful, artistic paintings on the Christmas theme served as add-ons to the colourful festive theme. Truly, words were insufficient. One had to be personally physically present to witness and experience how fresh and fragrant this heaven was with the exceptional love from UK.


The making of The Cathedral of Christmas Joy


The making of The Cathedral of Christmas Joy


Cathedral of Christmas Joy - Gents Sitting Area


Decorations on Top of the Sanctum Sanctorum


Decorations on Top of the Sanctum Sanctorum


Stained Glass Suspensions on the ceiling


Front Pillars Masked and Lit


Yajur Mandir - Residence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba


Yajur Mandir - Residence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba


Yajur Mandir (left) and Poornachandra Auditorium (right)


Frontage of Poornachandra Auditorium


Yajur Mandir (Left) with Sarva Dharma Sthupa (Right)


Nativity Scene

The planning for this gigantic endeavour started more than 9 months prior. Several trips were made to Prasanthi Nilayam by different teams to draw up the designs and decide on the final structure, colour and finish. Teams were formed in India too to source certain materials locally as well as to coordinate this entire effort.

Joining the UK Sai devotees were Sai brothers and sisters from South Africa who had taken up the decoration of buildings, trees and corners.


Christmas Decoration at Western Canteen

Christmas reminds one of the joys, of Oneness with Supreme Divinity. On Christmas day, as the auspicious morning dawned to its solemn beauty, the proceedings began with electrifying Carol singing by the devotees from the United Kingdom who sang the glory of Lord Jesus. They sang with deep devotion in their hearts, “Our Father who Art in Heaven”, “Mary’s Boy Child”, “O Come ye Faithful”, “Silent Night Holy Night”, “Joy to the World” and “Seek Ye First”. The lively session ensured the rare beauty and grandeur a Prasanthi Christmas morning warrants, nostalgic of the golden ‘Silver Door Darshan’ of the bygone days. Adding to the splendour of the day-break mass, a shining Cross with stand, studded with 108 candles, was placed facing the Sanctum Sanctorum, symbolic of the great-grand-solemn occasion.


Carol Singing by UK Devotees on Holy Christmas Morning


Holy Cross facing the Sanctum Sanctorum

In the evening of holy Christmas, SSE children from UK had the blessing of performing the play titled, “The Christmas Gift”.


SSE Programme on Christmas Day


Group Photo of SSE Children on Christmas Day

Through a simple and imaginative story of Michael Mouse who could not arrange any gift like others could for the Divine Baby Jesus, he ultimately offered a unique gift, that of offering himself to the Lord by blocking a hole in the wall to prevent cold wind from affecting the baby; the drama taught that one should offer oneself to God and surrender totally to Him.


SSE Children offering gratitude to the Lord

The evening session on Boxing Day commenced with a traditional Christmas procession of the participating children, many of them from UK, from the Yajur Mandiram, Swami’s residence. The children in traditional Christmas dress code, carrying Baby Jesus and other festive paraphernalia, marched in a disciplined order to the venue at Sai Kulwant Hall. The Christmas costumes were lovingly planned and organised by the UK team. Rest of the programme continued after adorning ‘Baby Jesus’ in the Manger.

Devotees from United Kingdom earned a special place in the hearts of all for their dedicated participation in decorating the Earthly Mansion of the Supreme Lord with great devotion and finesse, as well as presenting the Christmas Carols and Drama. This was a very memorable and energising experience for all those from UK who were fortunate to be a part. Christmas truly became the grand finale to the celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam too, marking the conclusion of the 90 years of the Advent of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Love & Light Editorial Team