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Region 1 - Easwaramma Day Celebrations at Tooting Sai Centre

Tooting Sai Centre celebrated Easwaramma Day on 3rd May with an offering from the SSE children, where each class presented an act to express their heartfelt gratitude to our Divine Mother Sai. As usual a lot of preparatory work was done by the teachers, children and parents to make the event a resounding success. This is one of the few events that brings out the Communal Spirit of the Centre as a number of parents helped to set up the Hall, Stage and Altar a day before in readiness for the event for the following day whilst the children were doing their rehearsals at the same time.

The Vedas declare that worship of the mother as God is of the utmost importance in human life. Two comperes introduced the event and provided an interesting dialogue throughout, illuminating an audience of 130 people, about the life story of Easwaramma.

Easwaramma is renowned for the three selfless wishes that she asked Swami to fulfil. Firstly, she asked him to construct a small hospital in their village to prevent suffering locals from travelling far for treatment. Secondly, she pleaded for a small school to be built so that all children in the neighbouring villages could be educated. Lastly, Easwaramma requested that clean drinking water would be provided to all the villagers. Easwaramma’s vision has improved the living conditions of countless individuals and continues to do so, thus demonstrating why Swami advocated that Easwaramma Day should also be regarded as Children’s day, due to the immense love that Easwaramma had for children.

The event began with the nursery class where each child presented on stage, a collage of images and artwork that expressed their theme; ‘We are all special’. The children then recited the prayer Vakratunda, before following this with a bhajan to invoke Lord Ganesha. To conclude their presentation, they performed a song entitled ‘We are special’.

This was then followed by a joint sketch with children from Group 1, Year 2 and Group 2, Year 2, who illustrated the life of Buddha and how he became enlightened. Colourful costumes and props aided the children in their dramatization of the life of Buddha, describing how after marriage, Buddha ventured outside of the royal enclosure and saw many individuals who were sick, old and dying. He realised that due to reincarnation, individuals would never be free from this endless cycle of suffering. Thus, Buddha renounced his royal luxuries to pursue the truth about how these miseries could be ceased.

The narrators discussed the 8 Fold-Path, which we couldn’t help but notice drew many parallels with our dear Swami’s guidelines, such as the 9 Point code of Conduct and the Human values. Buddha’s life demonstrates the importance of doing good and practicing what you preach. The overall message that we received from this presentation was that individuals should maintain unity in thought, word and deed. This message was reiterated in a song called ‘Wouldn’t it be nice’. The presentation concluded with all the children singing the bhajan Sai Natha Bhagawan, which mentions the three jewels of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The song reaffirms that the only way to end this cycle of suffering is to engage in Dharmic practices, such as meditation that will help us attain supreme enlightenment.

One SSE student then performed a Bharatanatayam Dance, to the song Gajavadhana Karuna Sadhana. Bharatanatayam is a South Indian classical form of dance, which is said to reveal spirituality through the physical and emotional body. The student’s dance involved acting out movements that mimicked those of an elephant, thus praising Lord Ganesha and his celestial origins.

The next presentation was from the children of Group 1, Year 1 entitled ‘A journey relating to Prayers’. Each student said a few words about prayers taught during their SSE classes had helped them develop as individuals. The format involved each student reciting a prayer and its corresponding bhajan, whilst in costume representing the various deities they were worshipping.

The last component of the programme was performed by the children of Group 3, in a drama titled ‘My Life is my Message’. The script followed the lives of three school children in the run up to their examinations. Whilst two of the students spent their time engaging in social activities and social media, the others helped out at home and set aside some time to revise. When the students got their exam results, the two girls who had idled away their time were disappointed with their marks, whilst the girl who had assisted with the household chores was delighted with hers. The students who had not done so well asked the other girl what her secret was. Here, various slokas from the Bhaja Govindam were interwoven with the storyline to demonstrate profound life lessons, for example the verse Sathsangtve… which explains the importance of good company and how this leads to de-attachment and eventually freedom from desires. Swami says that as students, we should prioritise our studies and place a ceiling on desires and limit time spent on social matters. In fact Swami has described Television as ‘televisham’, which means poison, thus reinforcing the idea that engaging in in righteous activities with like-minded people is highly important, in order to develop a good character. The message we took from this play was that SSE provides children with the tools necessary to engage in a process of discrimination and acknowledge, if not always choose, the right option.

The programme as presented by the SSE children involved a wider range of performances including the recitations of prayers, numerous plays and a dance presentation. The event concluded with all the SSE children making their offerings of ‘Love in the box’, which consisted of each child collecting written notes of some of the good deeds they had done.

A key theme that resonated with us throughout the programme was the importance of prayer, as it is a link to our Lord, a friendship that is never compromised. This has recently become increasingly more relevant, as Swami is no longer physically with us. Thus, prayer acts as a lifeline, to keep us in check and forward us on our journey of self-realisation.

Serena Jones & Arti Patel
Tooting Sai Centre