February 2015 Edition


National Youth Symposium 2015

Region 4 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference


A Letter from the Lord

From The Poets

My Sai and I

My Sai and I

National Service Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

National Spiritual Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

National SSE Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

National Youth Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

Picture of the Month

Region 2 - A Wonderful Gift With Love...

Region 2 - Mahashivarathri Celebrations at Heston Sai Centre

Region 3 - Mahashivaratri Celebrations at Central London Sai Centre

Region 3 - Mahashivaratri Celebrations at Edmonton Sai Centre

Region 3 - Tree Planting at Wood End in Marston Vale, Bedfordshire

Region 5 - Mahashivarathri Celebrations

Sarva Dharma Aikya Sthupa

Spiritual Quiz


The excitement of the 90th year of the Advent of our Beloved Bhagawan continues to spread across the UK with added vigour. Many uplifting projects are now in full flow, to commemorate this landmark year. To get us started, January brought to us a new format of our Love and Light newsletter. We hope that you have all been engaged by the increased interaction and manoeuvrability that this format provides and look forward to hearing from you. Everyone left the National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference on the 24th January fully charged and ready for the year ahead. We are pleased that the energy from this event is now reverberating across the country. Over the past weekend Regional orientation conferences and meetings have been underway. These programmes will be hosted in most regions and all are encouraged to attend and participate in them. Coordinators of the Spiritual, Service, SSE and Youth wing congregated on 15th February to work through the details of the respective wing plans which are at the heart of centre activities. Everyone left fully charged with Divine energy in readiness with the excitement to do His Work. Singing the Divine Name has been advised by Swami as a sure way of taming the mind and earning the Grace of God. We all fondly remember the grandeur with which Mahasivaratri was celebrated in the Divine presence. This most auspicious festival was celebrated across the UK by many centres, on 17th February 2015, with energetic chanting and group devotional singing. This month’s newsletter captures the uplifting experiences of devotees from around the country. Explaining the immense power of Namasmarana (chanting the Divine Name), Swami narrated the following story: “Once the mother of Agastya boasted that her son drank all the waters of the ocean; the mother of Hanuman, who was there said: “Why go to that extent? My son, leaped across it in a trice.” But there was the mother of Rama with them. She said, “Your son leaped over the ocean, uttering my son’s name. Without it, he was helpless.” The name has that overmastering power. It can award unheard of, unimagined strength and courage”. (SSS Vol. IV) 28th March marks an important date for the National Youth Symposium when youth from around UK will be congregating together as beacons of His Love and Service to offer their gratitude on Swami’s 90th year of Advent. Please click to register: http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/youthsymposium2015/ Also watch this space for the announcement on the National Sathya Sai Human Values Day planned for the 26th April 2015. Registration will be opening soon. Finally brothers and sisters, as Lord Hanuman seized every moment to serve His most Beloved Lord Rama, we too are being gifted the opportunity to offer service at the Divine abode of our dearest Bhagawan. This Christmas, devotees from the UK will be spending time in the divine abode as part of our National Pilgrimage. We also have the, once in a lifetime opportunity, to decorate Prasanthi Nilayam and the Sai Kulwant Hall. Please click on the attached link to register both for the pilgrimage and volunteering for this wonderful opportunity at: https://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/prasanthinilayamservice/. We sincerely hope that you enjoy this month’s edition of Love and Light. Dr Kumi Pillay, Regional Chair, Region 7

National Service Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

On 15th February 2015, the National Wings Conference began with uplifting devotional songs and a key message from Swami highlighted by our UK Chairperson, Dr. Kiran Patel. On one occasion, Swami asked one of his students what he wanted. The student replied. "Nothing Swami". Swami pressed him to ask for something, and upon some reflection he replied,"Please give me liberation Swami". Swami with a smile chided him lovingly and made a profound statement: "You ask for liberation, when I give you the opportunity to serve!".

Energised and thought provoked, despite a cold morning, the National Service Wing members plunged straightaway into deep deliberations which began with a review of the activities in 2014, and quickly moved on to discuss the plans for 2015 - the 90th year of the advent of our dear Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

As an introduction, brother Jayesh, Region 1 Service coordinator, highlighted the important ingredients of Service, i.e love and dedication, through a video showing a man making food and then feeding the homeless, talking to the elderly and disabled in a loving manner, and even attending to their personal needs unreservedly where necessary. This was followed by an inspirational quote:

"Service is a lifetime program: It knows no rest or respite. This body has been given to you so that you may devote its strength and skills to the service of brother-man. Serve man until you see God in all men; then what you do will be elevated to worship. " - Sathya Sai Speaks 1975.01.06.

Inspired for sure but were they warmed up? Not enough it seemed. But brother Santosh, Region 3 Service coordinator, soon got everyone up to break the ice at one end of the room. Each individual was made to jump across a dividing line depending on whether they were an early riser or late, up for a pizza or pasta, a Bollywood goer or Hollywood goer, up for romance or a comedy, up for action or adventure....dare to say it was painting a picture of individual characteristics! However, there was laughter in the air and smiles on faces - definitely warmed up and ready to serve - a Service wing with a smile!

Delegates then gathered into groups of 8-10 members and considered the activities under the 5 Streams which Bhagawan Baba has identified and enunciated for all of us to participate, namely the streams of Sociocare, Aquacare, Medicare, Envirocare, and Educare.

Each of the regional leads then presented the activities that are currently ongoing in each of the above stream and shared their experience in meeting objectives and surmounting challenges. Although it was evident that most of the activities were well received and well delivered, the need to refocus on some aspects was recognised, especially in relation to the optimal and effective use of resources. Another key point which was highlighted was the imperative to improve upon communication and perhaps understand and filter out why we do what we do, particularly for the benefit of the youth in our organisation.

With enthusiasm ripe, the groups then took to a quick fire session of brainstorming, and jotted down on post-it notes any ‘new’ service activity ideas under each of the streams, for Project 90 - our offering of gratitude on Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's 90th birthday. To work up their appetite for lunch, each member was asked to run up to the wall and stick their post-it note under the respective stream.

After lunch, the members gathered into respective regional groups to meet the regional service team, discuss activities at centre level, along with the importance to compile brief but robust monthly service wing reports. After all these deliberations, the National Service Coordinator, brother Mukund Patel, presented a summary. Two activities would be taken up initially with a national focus, and in partnership with relevant national and local agencies. One would be under the Envirocare stream involving activities such as tree plantation and habitat support, and the other would be under Educare involving activities such as providing material support (stationery, books, equipment etc) in needy populations both in UK and other countries in collaboration with International Sai Organisation. On going activities under the other streams such as homeless feeding, food banks, serving the elderly etc (Sociocare), Sathya Sai health awareness clinics, blood donation, first aid training (Medicare), Sai Emergency Relief Volunteers (SERV) will be further consolidated.

Our national offering to Swami for Christmas in Prashanti was discussed and teams / team leaders will be formed as everyone registers and finalises their dates between 5th of December 2015 to 5th January 2016.

The service wing meeting concluded with everyone eager to implement the activities agreed above in their Centres and Regions and working in unison with all our fellow devotees and volunteers. All wings of the organisation returned to the main hall with the national leads presenting the outcomes of the respective wings. The session ended with devotional songs and Aarti.

Arun Gohil
On behalf of National Service Wing

National Spiritual Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

The first meeting of 2015 of Regional and Centre Spiritual Wing Coordinators was held on the 15th February in Watford attended by 30 Office Bearers. Following prayers, the National Spiritual Coordinator addressed the congregation with a brief introduction, the important role of spiritual coordinators in the organisation; he then explored what motivated them to take up the role. It was fascinating to note that most took up the role to serve Swami and thereby transform themselves.

This was followed by discussion which was focussed up on the main activities undertaken by the wing namely Group Devotional Singing, Meditation, Study of Sai Literature, Study Circles, multi-faith activities etc. The rest of the morning session was then spent on Love and Service which have been chosen as topics for the Pre-world Conference; in the UK, this conference is planned on the 24-26 July 2015. Participants were split into four groups to explore delivery of these topics in study circles. It was exciting to note that the theme of Love and Service which is so dear to Swami was discussed in all countries around the globe.

The groups also examined ways of making study circles more stimulating and interactive. The groups summarised the discussion and agreed on the action points (see below). The group also discussed multi-faith activities in their respective regions and their importance in the current climate where confusion seems to be prevailing.

The afternoon group session was mainly spent on Bhajans (Devotional Songs), maintaining quality and standards of Bhajans in centres, Multi-faith Bhajans and singing Bhajans in other languages such as English. Jenni Robson, previous Regional Spiritual Coordinator for Region 4 provided an update on the English songs recording project. The following action points were agreed:

• Every centre must run regular study circles on the topics of Love and selfless service leading up to the Pre-World Conference scheduled in July. Centres to be encouraged to provide regular feedback on the study circles for continual improvement.
• Continue Multi-faith activities in the regions.
• Spiritual wing coordinators will lead in making initial contact with multi-faith representatives, inviting them and looking after their hospitality for the National Sathya Sai Human Values Day planned for the 26th April.
• Bhajan workshops and regular bhajan practise sessions to be held in centres in regions.
• Recording of English devotional songs
• Meditation work shops

Participants departed thrilled and energised for the programmes ahead.

Dr Rakendu Suren,
National Spiritual Coordinator

National SSE Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

Sunday 15th February 2015

The SSE Wing Meeting began with the Regional Coordinators presenting the statistics showing the number of students and teachers involved in Sai Spiritual Education. It was wonderful to hear that there are approximately 1300 – 1500 children benefiting from Swami’s sacred programme throughout the UK.

The coordinators then shared a brief account of the activities the children have been involved in over the past year. It was inspiring to hear about the diverse events such as Sports and Family Values Day, Christmas shoe box collection, learning Vedam, distributing Easter eggs to sick children in hospitals, to name just a few.

SSE teachers were also able to share their experiences of successes as well as challenges and it was a good opportunity to meet and exchange thoughts and ideas. The importance of active parental involvement within the wing was also emphasised with practical examples.

Our National SSE Coordinator, Thana Yogendran outlined the main objectives for this year which are:

- Nationally driven Co-ordinated activities implemented throughout the UK
- Alumni Re-Connect

Sister Thana also discussed the ongoing activities for the year which include:

• Teacher Training
• Group 4 Structure
• SSE Web page including downloadable resources
• National Co-ordinated activities – Love is My Form theme
• SSE Reconnect

The nationally co-ordinated activity the children are currently taking part in is the “Love is My Form Box” to be offered to Swami on Easwaramma Day. These will contain 90 actions that reflect ‘Love is My Form’ in their day-to day lives. One teacher observed the impact this activity is already having on a child who has been inspired to perform more and more loving and thoughtful actions.

SSE Reconnect is an initiative which will aim to make contact with SSE Alumni, who have moved on to university or begun their careers and seek to actively encourage and engage them in centre-led activities.

The SSE Teachers were delighted at the news of the International SSE conference due to take place in Prashanthi in August. Many showed an eagerness to be a part of this important event.

For the afternoon session, the SSE teachers were divided into groups to brainstorm ideas for two key upcoming events; National Human Values Day and National Easwaramma Day.

Sister Thana reminded the SSE Teachers that they have chosen to undertake a very noble and sacred sadhana. A quote from Swami illustrated this:

"I am getting some things done, making you as My instruments. For, I require some instruments to carry on My mission. Hence, I am moulding you as those instruments. By imparting education, knowledge and wisdom, I am developing you all as My instruments. Hence, may you all lead purposeful lives with firm faith in God!" - Baba

Hema Joshi,
SSE Coordinator
Harrow West Centre

National Youth Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

February 2015

It was a beautiful Sunday morning when all the office bearers and active members assembled in their respective wings such as service, spiritual, SSE and Bhagwan’s close –to-heart youth wing.

A sizeable group of active, excited and energetic willing youth assembled in the hall where the workshop for the youth wing started off in full swing.

It started off with Shyam Jamnadas, National Youth Co-ordinator, addressing the youth briefly followed by a quick but unconventional ice-breaker session during which each of us had to collect information about the rest of the youth members in the team to answer the questions given to us. Little did we realise that by the end of the 10 minute activity the synergy that was created through the interaction kept us rolling like a ball of positivity throughout the day’s activities.

With keeping in mind the two visions “Making our lives His message” and “Service to Man is Service to God” the youth participated in several activities that enabled us to demystify the path to achieve these two visions.

As it is commonly known a building gets stronger as the scaffoldings support it, so does the path to the future becomes clearer when the youth are made aware of the past happenings. Keeping this in mind our National Youth Coordinator articulately explained some major milestones achieved in the year 2014. This can be broadly categorised as follows:

a) Namasmarana – 3 youth-led Sai Smaran’s held across UK and musical offering in Prashanthi as a part of UK pilgrimage
b) Seva activities – Participating in Serve the Planet Refuge UK project, Narayan Seva for the homeless
c) YAP- 27 Young adults programme across UK on 9 point code of conduct
d) Exhibition – Conducting exhibition on Easwaramma day
e) Pilgrimage offering – A youth musical performance in Sai Kulwant hall

These and more were beautifully put together in the form of a musical audio visual presentation and all of us were glued to it from the start to the end. I should say it was one of the longest videos but definitely the best. It was so beautiful that it enticed all of the youth keeping us engrossed in it every second.

Less time was spent on past glories and focus quickly moved to the milestones we need to achieve on this beautiful 90th year of Swami’s presence.

We understood that the best way to find a solution is to address the challenges we face from the centre level moving up to regional levels

The key challenges that were addressed were as follows:

1. Youth participation in centre level activities
2. Communication gaps between adults and youth and how to resolve issues arising out of these gaps
3. How to keep the momentum going and achieve sustainability
4. How to further integrate the youth wings with the other wings such as Spiritual, SSE and Service

It goes without saying that the creative ideas exchanged amongst the youth were so well thought out and practical that it inspired each one of us to confidently take up tasks to achieve our higher objective as a team for the auspicious 90th year of Swami.

Ideas came snowballing - How youth-adult two-way communication can be enhanced, aligning youth’s talents towards centre objectives, empowering youth, conducting youth team building workshops etc.

Once we had relived the past, brainstormed the solutions for challenges and are all charged up with confidence we started the last but a wonderful activity - a breakout session to plan activities for the four-point objective. This being a very crucial part which once put into action will make us all proud that we as a team have lived this year as examples of His instruments , a year of our lives as His message.

The four-point objective is as follows:

1. To unite the Youth of UK via a National Youth Symposium (28th March 2015), in preparation to pre-world conference, Swami’s 90th Birthday, Christmas decorations in Prasanthi and 2016 International Youth Festival in Prasanthi.
2. To lead on Serve the Planet, focussing on food and children.
3. To continue and further integrate the Spiritual , SSE and Service wings
4. Conduct Young Adults Programmes (YAO) with the theme of “Love in Action”

We split into 4 different groups and put our thoughts together for an hour and came up with this exhaustive matrix in a flip chart and each group made their presentation to the rest of the youth.

The result – we were confident, focussed and full of energy to achieve the four point objective of His divine 90th year.

The ideas that came up were brilliant and reinstated all the youth the confidence and dedication we had together to achieve one simple goal – Sai’s instruments.

As we are all geared up to put our thoughts to actions to achieve these objectives I leave you with some brilliant ideas that came up in the four groups as a part of the workshop, written by a member from each group

Group 1

“The key ideas that were discussed were those centred around how to actively get involved into ‘Service” and how to organise activities as apart of SSE Youth initiatives. Many possible ideas were suggested and brainstormed e.g. such as visiting children in hospital during holiday periods, open up work healthy eating workshop for children, and participating in a buddy scheme for children. There were three main themes that were discussed and use to sub-categorize ideas: “The use of External Organisations” “Supporting the Transition of SSE students to Youth” and “The engagement of Youth leading up to/to the Youth Symposium”. After ideas were divided into a table, a list of possible “Actions” were written down, which included what would actively needed to be done; and who in order for these ideas to be tangible and enable them to take place. These were discussed by the group as a whole, and then presented to the rest of the Youth present at meeting.”
– Gary, Region3

Group 2

“After addressing the National objectives, Youth were split into 4 groups to discuss them and come up with ideas for following them through. With 2015 being the 90th year of Swami’s advent, it’s fitting that this year’s events and activities are centred around loving and serving whenever and wherever possible.

For the first time, the UK has been given the opportunity to decorate the Kulwant Hall for the Christmas celebrations in Prashanthi this year. Not all Youth will be able to attend the Pilgrimage, so we thought that we could make some Christmas decorations (possibly during the YAP sessions) to be taken to Prashanthi, allowing everyone to be involved even if they can’t be there for the actual celebrations. Also, in preparation for Swami’s 90th Birthday, each centre in the UK (there are 98, so smaller centres could join together) could offer a project/event in time for the National Birthday Celebrations, culminating in the 90th offering on the day of the programme.

Objectives 2, 3 and 4 are closely linked together, so we felt that similar steps could be taken towards achieving each one. Contacting local councils and charities and finding out exactly what they need would mean that we can provide them with support as required, and this can be extended to our ‘Serve the Planet’ initiative – as well as collecting items, food banks also need help transporting them to warehouses and sorting them out as necessary, and Refuge UK may have other oppurtunities for us to volunteer with them.

With service as the recurring theme, YAP sessions this year will be more practical rather than discussion based. They can be used to support new community service projects (e.g. tree planting, redecorating hospices, making hampers for Easter/Christmas), revive and maintain old projects undertaken within the Sai Organisation, and help out with Regional & National event planning and preparation. We can get other wings involved as well e.g. SSE children used ‘ceiling on desires’ to save up money to buy Easter Eggs to be donated to the hospitals last year”.
–Dhivyaa, Region 2

Group 3

a) Team building exercises in the form of surprise trips for the youth based on Sai’s teachings and principles. This will remain as a the foundation to bring synergy to work as a team for the National Youth Symposium and the International Youth Festival

b) Conducting YAP workshops not necessarily as an interactive discussion but in a more creative way that links service activities aligned to children such as visiting children’s hospitals, educating them etc.

c) Driving the youth of the centres by aligning their personal interests towards the main activities of the year – Christmas decorations in Prashanti and National Youth Symposium so their talents can be used by actively participating in the preparation of these activities

d) Aligning the youth’s talents towards a common goal such as slide presentation, a divine play or even a big seva event. This will prepare us collectively for the big day by also integrating with the other wings to get the best out of the talents to deliver what we aspire to deliver to make this year a successful one.

– Aneet, Region 3

Group 4

"Throughout and after lunch, the primary objective was to look forward to the coming year and ways of making it as positive as possible. We again split into groups and discussed how to communicate with external organisations, involvement of the SSE Wing, how to motivate people and the planning that needs to go with these aspects. Finally, each group presented their ideas to the whole group. Overall, I’d say that it was a very productive day with lots of promising ideas coming out of it. The Youth Wing looks ahead to an amazing 2015 with the grace of Swami!"

-Prahalad Nadella (Age 16), Region 5

This article would be incomplete if I did not complete by saying how wonderfully insightful the day was for all the youth that took part in this workshop

As a participant I could see the goldmine of potential the youth have in the form of brilliant ideas, energy, focus and dedication- its now time for us to put our thoughts to actions , time to deliver , time to make our lives His message

Jai Sai Ram

Aneet Govindarajan
Active Youth, Region 3

Region 2 - A Wonderful Gift With Love...

Our beloved Swami has blessed us to continue with the 108 Christmas Shoe Box gifts for children in need. This project started during the first week of October 2014 and the wrapped gift boxes were delivered to the needy children in Croatia during Christmas.

It was wonderful to get involved in all aspects of the project, from gathering empty shoe boxes, collecting suitable gift items, placing the gift items in the boxes, wrapping them, passing the boxes to Refuge Relief and then spending a day at Refuge Relief warehouse to load a big articulated lorry. The final touch was receiving a photograph from Croatia showing us that the gift boxes were delivered to the children in need.

We are sure our Swami would have chosen the right children who were in need to receive the gift boxes and those children who received the gifts would have felt the abundant love that HIS devotees poured into each of those boxes!

Devotees and SSE children placing the gifts in shoe boxes and wrapping them with love...

Handing over the gift boxes to Refugee Relief charity...

Loading the articulated lorry at the Refugee Relief charity warehouse in Northampton

Children receiving the gifts in Croatia...

Jai Sai Ram.

Jay Jeyaseelan
Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow West.

Region 2 - Mahashivarathri Celebrations at Heston Sai Centre

The night of Shiva or Shivaratri, can be understood by contemplating on Lord Shiva as more than just the Personal aspect of God; He is also the Impersonal aspect or the Supreme Brahman. In one of His discourses, Swami declared “This Divine Manifestation (of Swami) is one where all the names of God, and all the forms of God, ascribed by man to God, through the ages are present in full!”

The Holy occasion of Maha Shivaratri was celebrated at the Sathya Sai centre of Heston on Sunday 22nd February 2015 between 6pm to 8pm.

The Celebration started with 108 Gayatri mantras then followed by bhajans, lingastakam and pooja for Lord Shiva. All devotees had the opportunity to do the milk abishekam and offer Bilva leaves to the Shiva lingam.

SSE Children and teacher Sister Neeraja performed the final Aarti for Bhagawan Baba and SSE student Kaaviya Nimalarupan read an article from Bhagavan's discourse about the beautiful symbolic meaning of Maha Shivaratri. Maha Prashadam was served to all devotees to conclude this special day.

Swami emphasised the inherent excellence of the customs, conventions, ritual and ceremonies laid down by the Sages are for limiting the vagaries of the human mind, besides regulating and educating the emotions and impulses to help the Sadhaka to attain self-realisation.

Centre Chair

Region 3 - Mahashivaratri Celebrations at Central London Sai Centre

On the night of Tuesday, February 17th 2015, the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London hosted a four hour-long Maha Shivaratri celebration. With over 100 Sai devotees in attendance, Coram Field’s Guide Hall was bursting with Divine and soulful vibrations. The evening commenced with abhishekam offerings on the Lingam in the midst of Rudram chanting, setting a tone of devotion, enchantment and joy.

Swami has spoken at length about the significance of Maha Shivaratri. Shivaratri occurs every month, but Maha Shivaratri occurs once a year. It falls on the 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna. Maha Shivaratri varies in mythological and cultural aetiology; some mark it as the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati, others as the auspicious night that Lord Shiva performed the Tandava, the dance of primal creation. Alternatively, many believe it was when Lord Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Lingam. Nevertheless, all of the legends glorify Maha Shivaratri as the great night of Shiva. In addition to holding mythological significance, the night is also cosmologically potent.

The moon waxes and wanes during the month, taking 15 days for each process. The 13th day of the new and full moon is called Thrayodashi, which is followed by Chaturdashi. Shivaratri falls between the Thrayodashi and Chaturdashi, on the 14th day of the dark half of the month. Since the moon is the presiding deity of the mind, it embroils the mind in emotions and desires. On this night, however, the moon is all but invisible; only a minute fraction of it appears to man. Therefore, the powerless mind is particularly porous to vigil and the presence of the Divine. If the night is dedicated to intense sadhana and the reading of sacred texts, the mind can be conquered and man can realise his freedom.

During the vibrant bhajan session at Guide Hall, Shiva’s name was sung and glorified in a multitude of languages, melodies, and chants. While the various celebrations encouraged a manifestation of inner ecstasy in oneself, they also foster a sense of community awareness and help individuals recognise the power of collective prayer.

Swami has drawn attention of people to the fact that merely staying awake during this auspicious occasion will not in itself benefit anyone unless they engage in repetition of the name of the Lord. For that reason, all night bhajan is considered very propitious. When devotees dwell in extolling the virtues of Lord Shiva and glorifying His various attributes, the mind is amenable to focus on His name and form.

Devotees sang bhajans with great joy until 11.45 pm. The video of Swami singing Sathyam, Shivam Sundaram was like the ‘icing on the cake’ creating a blissful atmosphere charged with Divine vibrations. This was followed by the devotees singing the Sai Shiva Stotram and Lingaastakam.

The closing Shiva Aarthi boasted a hall packed with devotees in celebration of the joyous conclusion. Maha Shivaratri not only evokes ritualistic significance, but it also possesses a cosmic relevance that opens the mind to knowledge and awareness.

Region 3 - Mahashivaratri Celebrations at Edmonton Sai Centre

On Saturday 14 February 2015 Maha Shivarathri was celebrated by Edmonton Sai Centre. Maha Shivarathri is one of the biggest celebrations at the Centre and the children and youths of the centre look forward to this unforgettable moment to celebrate and sing the glory of the Lord. The programme was put together by the Centre’s elder children between the age of 15 and 20. We started at 6.30 pm and continued till 10.00 pm. The programme began with opening multifaith prayers followed by Rudram chanting. Linga Abhishekam was performed subsequently whilst Lingashtakam prayer and melodious and highly uplifting bhajans were offered by all the devotees till 9.15pm. This was followed by Bilvashtakam and Shiva Ashtottara. We finally concluded with a talk given by the Brother Vickneswaren of Ilford Sai Centre who was also the priest for that day.

This was followed by concluding prayers, an uplifting Shiva Aarti and Swami’s Aarti. We were joined by the Palmers Green Sai Group who stayed with us from the beginning to the end of the celebration. The programme was filled with mesmerising vibrations from the melodious bhajans and chanting of the mantras by the children, youth and adults. There was a strong sense of unity, love and devotion for Lord Shiva and our Dearest Beloved Swami. The hall was packed with some 150 Sai and non-Sai devotees.

Swami says “Devotional singing (bhajans) is the process of singing that originates in the heart, not from the lips or the tongue. It is the expression of the joyous thrill that wells up from the heart when the Glory of God is remembered. It is the spontaneous manifestation of inner ecstasy. No attention is paid to the blame or praise that others may give. It does not seek the admiration or the appreciation of the listeners.” (SSS Vol X, p84)

Region 3 - Tree Planting at Wood End in Marston Vale, Bedfordshire

On a bright and sunny Sunday morning on 8th February 2015, a few devotees from Foster Hill Sai Centre took the opportunity to join the Martston Vale Forrest Trust in one of their annual tree planting activities.

The Marston Vale Forrest Trust is a community project run to repair the landscape damaged by years of clay extraction, landfills and bricklaying. The project is aimed at re-creating woodlands for everyone to enjoy and appreciate mother nature as intended. The area of woodland covered is over 60 square miles starting from Bedford to Milton Keynes and most of the trees planted are raised from seeds collected locally, predominantly Field Maple and Oak.

The project has been successful over the past few years with the help from devoted and committed volunteers from all walks of life in the community including small children.

So far amazingly the project has seen to plant approximately 1 MILLION TREES!!! with a view to plant a further 5 MILLION trees by 2030.

What better way to serve Mother Earth and leave a legacy for our future generations? For further information regarding the Marston Vale Trust and its activities please see the link below:

Jai Sai Ram
Sonia Sandhu
Foster Hill Sai Centre, Bedford

Region 5 - Mahashivarathri Celebrations

On Tuesday 17th Feb, devotees from Manchester and surrounding areas gathered at the Jain Community Centre to celebrate the auspicious night of Maha-Shivaratri. The evening began with a beautiful reading of the significance of this day as explained by Swami. Then came the opening prayers with chants and vedams followed by a classical Shiv Dhun – this wonderful and powerful melody continued non-stop while all the devotees were given the opportunity to perform Lingam Pooja to the Shiva Lingam within the amazing altar.

Once the bhajans started the atmosphere and energy continued to rise to a heavenly level as devotees felt like they were in Parthi. The vibrations created were divine. The evening concluded with aarthi and a moment of silence while the devotees sent their love to all those around the world less fortunate than themselves. The annual gathering was a wonderful experience enjoyed by all, just like in previous years by Swami’s grace.

Vinesh Parmar
R5 Vice-chair

Mahashivarathri Celebrations at Sathya Sai Centre of Lidget Green

Mahashivarathri was celebrated on Tuesday the 17th February at Sathya sai centre of Lidget green at Bradford. Leeds and Halifax groups and lidget green sai centre came together this year and celebrated as a joint event. The programme started at 730pm with Rudram chanting followed by the traditional shiva stotrams and ashtakams prior to the bhajans.

The altar was decorated beautifully and the ambience was divine. The bhajans were well executed and sung with devotion by one and all. The atmosphere was exhilarating and all the devotees present were immersed in divine bliss. The presence of our beloved Bhagawan was felt by one and all.

All through the programme swamis videos were projected on the screen. The concluding session was highly energetic and the video showing Lingodhbhavam was aptly showed . This added to the divine fervour and everyone was transported to Prashanthi Nilayam. The bhajans lasted till midnight and the devotees were given prasad as they were leaving.

Mrs Gayathri Nadella
SSE Coordinator

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"Love and Light" is the only nationwide monthly publication of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK). You are free to pass it on in its entirety to any interested party. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) UK National Chair.