January 2013 Edition

Quote

If you wish to embark on a new life, you need not wait for the arrival of a new year. To wait for a whole year means waiting for twelve months and so many days, hours, minutes and seconds. Treat every second as new. Sanctify every moment of your life. This has to be done by realising the unity of Sath (the Divine) and Chith (the individual Consciousness). When this union is achieved, Ananda (Spiritual Bliss) is experienced. This is the primary task before everyone. Every second should be regarded as an expression of the Divine. This New Year Day relates to the Christian Era. December and January may come and go (every year) but God neither comes nor goes. Discourse at Prashanthi Mandir to a vast gathering of devotees from all parts of world, 1 Jan 1992

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

National Youth Conference 2013

Sai Smaran 2013

National Sai Orientation Conference

News

Service Wing - Kazakhstan Medical Camp: August 2013

Articles

"With outstretched arms": National Christmas Celebrations 2012

A Rare Accolade - OBE

Education Wing - A Christmas to Remember with Joy!

Education Wing - Poem: My Swami and I

Education Wing - SSE Participation in the National Christmas Celebrations 2012

Make the Most Of His Gifts: an Article Written by Sam and Sharon Sandweiss

National Christmas Celebrations 2012

National Christmas Celebrations 2012: Part 1

National Report 2012

Region 1 - 87th Anniversary of the Divine Advent

Region 1 - Christmas Celebrations at Merton Sai Centre

Region 1 - Christmas Youth Service Activity

Region 1 - Regional Christmas Celebration

Region 1 - Sai Legend Visits Sai Mandir

Region 1 - Wimbledon Sai Centre Welcomes in 2013

Region 2 - Christmas 2012 at Harrow West Sai Centre

Region 2 - New Years Eve Bhajans

Region 3 - Christmas Seva by Hatfield Sai Centre

Region 3 - January 2013 Update

Region 4 - 'Keep Faith and Carry On': Spiritual Journey to a Monastery

Region 4 - Christmas Party at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Leicester

Region 4 - Food Parcels for Croatia

Region 4 - Leicester Centre: Christmas Programme and SSE Exam Presentation

Region 4 - New Years Eve Bhajans in Nottingham

Youth Wing - Sathya Sai Leadership and Training Programme (SSLTP): Module 6

Editorial

Dear Love & Light Readers,
Sai Ram and Happy New Year!

December was a month of reflection on the programmes conducted in 2012, at National, Regional and Centre levels, which brought devotees together in unity and togetherness, bound by the bond that we very dearly cherish, that of Brotherhood under the Fatherhood of Sathya Sai. The events gave us the fortune of sharing the joy of His Grace and Love, of listening to His Glory, of remembering His stories and of contemplating upon Him; not to overlook the National Pilgrimage that provided devotees the opportunity to be in His Divine presence and to pay gratitude for everything He has provided, and the privilege of interacting with His ambassadors, Dr Sanjay Sahani, Professor Anilkumar, Dr Samuel and Sharon Sandweiss.

December was also a month of festivity. Our National Christmas Celebrations in Cheltenham provided a setting for devotees and other special guests to come together to share Love in the true spirit of Christmas. Our Centres throughout the UK were lit with Christmas lighting and decoration, with the air filled with music culminating into the New Year celebrations where lot of our centres opened 2013 with prayers and singing praises of the Lord.

All these couldn't have been possible without your selfless dedication and sacrifice. We pray to Swami to shower His Grace and Blessings on everyone.

We observed 2012 as the year of Illumination, of intensifying our understanding of Swami’s teachings and thereby raising our consciousness to derive peace within, thus leading in 2013 to the Year of Harmony.

The New Year will be another exciting year for the Organisation with a number of National events planned which will bring devotees together in Harmony. We will be seeing new officers of the Sai Army taking up roles on 14th January, with the past officers ever engaged actively to serve His Mission.

19th and 20th January are significant dates when we will be holding a 2 day National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference in Hatfield, for current and previous Office Bearers and Active Members with the primary focus being, how we can serve ably as His Instruments in His Divine Mission. We are honoured to have the two senior most leaders of our Organisation, Mr Gary Belz (Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation) and Dr Narendranath Reddy (Chairman, Prasanthi Council) as our special guests. Separate programmes have also been organised for devotees to interact with our guests, please check web site for information: http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk

We pray to Swami for continued Guidance and Blessings for 2013 and beyond.

Loving Regards and Sai Ram,

Dr Kiran Patel,
Chairman, UK Central Council




Service Wing - Kazakhstan Medical Camp: August 2013

National Wing News

We are happy to inform you that the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation of Russia are organising an international medical camp in Kazakhstan, in villages 40-60 kms away from Karganda city.

Medical volunteers from the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation UK have been invited to join the devotees from Russian speaking countries, in this international medical camp. The diagnostic camp is scheduled to take place from 3 to 11 August 2013 (subject to any changes by the host). The host has requested for various medical specialities from UK including:

  1. General Medicine
  2. Paediatric
  3. Optometry
  4. Ophthalmology
  5. Psychiatry
  6. Dental (tentative, subject to final confirmation from the host)
  7. ENT
  8. Cardiology
  9. Physiotherapy
  10. Orthopaedic
  11. Lady doctors in any speciality

Limited general volunteers and eligible medical students will also be accepted on a selection basis.

If you are interested in participating in this medical camp, please send the following documents asap by 25 March 2013 to Urvi Widhani either by email at urvideepak@hotmail.co.uk or by post at Sai Hirdaya, 57 Heming Road, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 9AB:

  1. A copy of your CV and copy of your M.B.B.S. Degree certificate;
  2. A copy of your GMC / GDC / relevant medical council certificate;
  3. 1 passport photograph (original);
  4. A copy of the main page of your passport containing your personal details and photograph

Once you are selected for the medical camp, you will be invited for a meeting when you will be provided further details of the camp.

Devotees can also help by supporting the camps through Ceiling on Desires Programme and sending their contributions to the UK Trust.

Please contact Dr Upadhyay or Urvi for further details in relation to this camp, by email to urvideepak@hotmail.co.uk or phone on 07957210237.

Sai Ram and love

"With outstretched arms": National Christmas Celebrations 2012

The Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) Christmas gathering
16th December, 2012 at Cheltenham Ladies' College
Rev’d Katie McClure

It was my privilege as a local hospital chaplain to be invited to lead the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at this year’s Christmas gathering, and while this piece is not about me, I hope you will bear with few words of personal reflection from one who was entering the world of Sri Sathya Sai Baba for the first time. A crash course in his mission, in the aims of the organisation and in the purpose of the gathering that day told me that here was a remarkable event and a remarkable group of people who embraced much that was consonant with my own thinking and who embodied a beautiful ideal of faith in action.

For me the most notable factor was the coming together of people of different faiths (and all the diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds they represented) to celebrate what they have in common – a respect for God by all names and forms, an awareness of the divinity in each one of us, and the earnest desire to exercise those universal, divinely-inspired qualities of love, peace, truth, non-violence and right conduct in a way which leads to service. People young and old gathered from 110 groups across the 8 regions of the UK to join in worship and fellowship, and the warmth of the welcome for a newcomer such as myself was without equal. Faith in action.

Our focus for this short time together was the birth of Jesus – foretold by prophets and angels, anticipated for so long by so many (some of whom would fail to recognise his significance), sought out by some, feared by others and ultimately a surprise to all because of the humble nature of his birth. Our story was told in word and action as the children accompanied the nine readings with tableaux of the nativity, and as the service drew on we found ourselves standing beside the crib of Jesus, God made man – the mystery of the incarnation.

As a hospital chaplain I often stand beside a newborn in a cradle and wonder what this young life will hold. Well one of our answers is given in this celebration – the mystery of the incarnation – God with us and in us, played out in each one of our lives from birth till death. One of my treasured possessions is a wooden nativity scene in which the baby Jesus, rather than being wrapped up in his swaddling bands has his arms outstretched. I pondered on Jesus’ life and all this could mean: perhaps a metaphor for God’s loving embrace, open to all…or his hand outstretched in healing and forgiveness…or to touch the untouchables or reach out to the marginalised… to provide food for the hungry, to break bread and bless it…to bless us. Or the ultimate outstretching of his arms upon the cross – for Christmas would mean nothing without the pain of Good Friday and the joyful resolution of Easter. What Jesus gives up on the cross, he hands on to us by his Spirit so that our lives become his message and it is entrusted to us to stretch out our arms to the sick, the hungry and hurting, to those who have been pushed to the very margins of life.

So when Sri Sathya Sai Baba defines one of the aims of the organisation as ‘promoting the awareness of divinity in human beings’, we have good reason to look to this incarnation and to ask ourselves how God is made manifest in us. It may not matter how that faith is expressed – I write on the Epiphany when the Christian Church remembers three star-gazing, wise men who came to the cradle of Jesus and came not as Christians, nor did they leave as Christians, but they left inspired by the presence of God discerned in this child. Once upon a time someone looked into our cradle and wondered what we might grow up like. At Christmas we look into the cradle and see the God made man who gives us an answer which should inspire us to let our lives become his message. From what I can see, that is what the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation does so very well and long may it continue.

Rev. Katie McClure

A Rare Accolade - OBE

I was pleasantly surprised when three weeks back, I received a letter from the Prime Minister David Cameron informing me that my name was being submitted to the Queen to receive the Honour of Order of British Empire or known in short as an OBE.I was ecstatic and jubilant and in humility expressed my gratitude to Swami for this distinction.

I was not allowed to share this joy with anyone for three weeks as I was sworn to secrecy. It is indeed a very uplifting experience and I am excited that this will help me to introduce SSSEHV in more schools. This will raise the profile of the programme.

The award is in honour of Services to Education and community cohesion in Leicester. I am a teacher and the Human Values Manager at Abbey Primary Community School which is known as Partnership Sathya Sai School. The SSEHV programme is fully integrated in the school and curriculum. The programme has had a hugh impact which has resulted in the school moving from being the 55th in the league table seven years ago to being the second best school in Leicester today. The Ofstead inspector commented “Abbey is held together by the golden chain of Human Values"

I have been running the Good Values Club for the past twenty years and today we have nearly one hundred and fifty children attending every Saturday.

Tim Foster in his letter to Leicester Mercury (Local Paper) quoted:

"I was delighted to see in the New Year Honours an OBE awarded to Dipak Kumar Fakey for his service to education and community cohesion in Leicester.

Hundreds of children and young people have benefited from attending his Good Values Club run at Abbey Primary on Saturday mornings. They gain a valuable insight into the positive role they can play in their local community.

Mr Fakey's award is richly deserved and a fitting tribute to the life-changing work he undertakes.”

I am thankful to everyone who has helped me to achieve this honour. This honour is given to me by Swami to take His Mission of spreading the Message of Sathya Sai Education in Human Values to the next level.

Dipak Kumar Fakey, OBE
Leicester

Education Wing - A Christmas to Remember with Joy!

National Christmas Celebrations 2012

Right from the time I arrived at the Cheltenham venue, the day before, to help setup the main hall, I immediately felt that this event would be very special. The magnitude of the school at which the celebrations took place was outstanding and turned out to be the most ideal place for such a task. Although, it was when I arrived the next day and was welcomed by the countless amounts of Sai devotees, that I truly was touched. Every single person would greet you with a wide smile across their face and you would be able to feel the love shining forth from them.

As well as this, it was a lot of fun to dress up in various costumes with all the other SSE children and perform on stage. I got to meet many new kids and also got to catch up with some old SSE friends. The amount of effort put in by the children and the adults in making it a really good show was pulled off, creating a fantastic, entertaining and joyful atmosphere.

Furthermore, every single minute was planned to perfection. Never for a second was I confused about what I was to do, leaving me to only indulge in the service of Sai. The Christmas Celebration on the 16th of December 2012 was beyond doubt a wonderful and memorable event to participate in as a SSE student.

I am excited and very much looking forward to the Christmas celebrations next year!

Aum Sri Sai Ram

By Ian Gordon,
SSE Student
Region 7

Education Wing - Poem: My Swami and I

I am very blessed to have Swami in my life since I was born. SSE has taught me that Swami is God and that we too are God. The Lord has taught me many things including human values, but above all is to LOVE and SERVE ALL.

With Swami’s grace my sister and I were privileged to have joined the UK pilgrimage in 2010. This meant we had to travel all the way to Merton Centre, every weekend, to practice for the choir to be performed in Prasanthi Nilayam. Travelling to London disciplined us, because we had to wake up early in order to be on time. Travelling to and from London also became fun as my sister, guru or mother and I would talk about Swami and sing Bhajans. We would also talk about our forthcoming trip to India, which made all the travelling worthwhile. Just knowing we would all receive Swami’s darshan made us all elated.

Also being part of SSE means I can enjoy meeting my Sai brothers and sisters whom I can talk to freely about my Swami, as at school I am unable to express my feelings about Swami. Swami’s teachings have encouraged me to sing prayers from all religions, learn vedic chanting and practice silent sitting on a daily basis. In particular, chanting the Sai Gayatri mantra helps me to cope better at school, as at times when the children tease me I find it comforting.

Having faith in Swami has encouraged me to become more confident and be able to express myself confidently. Learning and practicing the human values has taught me not to be shy and frightened. Nowadays, in RE lessons in school, I can talk freely about Swami and share my experiences with the other children, without being nervous.

I am very fortunate to have had Swami’s blessing in person and He has shown me how to love everyone.

Swami is my life and knowing that he is always with me has given me self- confidence. I would like to thank My Beloved Swami, my parents and my Gurus for showing me how to live a life of Love, Peace, Truth, Non-Violence and Right Conduct.

Sai Ram

Nisha Patel
Age 12
Southampton

Education Wing - SSE Participation in the National Christmas Celebrations 2012

The children from the SSE wing of the United Kingdom came together from across the country on the 16th of December 2012 to sing and enact as a tableaux scenes from the nativity whilst the service of the 9 lessons and carols were being rendered by children and adults.

"At the Christmas celebration I felt joy and happiness. Jesus and Baba are same and they both protect us. What I liked is when people came up on stage and told us about Jesus/Baba."
- Krishmi Gurung 7 years

'Lamps of Love'

Service project undertaken by the SSE children at the Christmas celebration for the residents of a local home for the elderly.

"I enjoyed the Christmas programme because I felt a part of the nativity scenes. My favourite part was decorating the cookies for the elderly people to enjoy."
- Ananda Sai Pillay – age 7
SSE - Region 7

"We went to Cheltenham for the Christmas celebration and I felt wonderful. When we arrived at the beautiful place in the morning, it felt as if I was part of something special. I loved it when we decorated the cookies for the care home. It feels to me that Jesus and Sai Baba are brothers because both are God and they say similar things and God is One."
- Subigya Ranapaili - 9 years
SSE - Region 6

Make the Most Of His Gifts: an Article Written by Sam and Sharon Sandweiss

Dearest Sai family in UK, Sai Ram and much love.

Thank you for the opportunity of writing a brief article in your newsletter. It allows Sharon and me to continue our heart to heart relationship with our wonderful UK brothers and sisters.

First we want to express our gratitude to Team UK under the able leadership of Brother Kiran, who looked after us so well during our entire stay and carried us to all the wonderful events (the Sai Birthday Celebration, meetings at Centers, with psychiatrists, with young adults, teachers, Council and Trust Members). All devotees smiled at us, encouraged us and made us feel a part of your strong and healthy UK Sai group.

How wonderful to sing together the glories of Swami and His teaching that lift us beyond fear and suffering. He shows us how to purify our minds through virtue and service–until we melt into His love, and live in peace beyond the limitations of this sensory material world.

We must make the most of His gifts. I learned this most pointedly in June 2005 when invited to speak at a public meeting in Atlanta Georgia–one of many leading to Swami's 80th birthday. I noticed the beautiful camera to capture the event. I felt that Swami actually spoke for me. These gifts, the video and talk, I wanted to refine. Over the next year and a half, and with the aid of a video editor, the talk became a good introductory message for a wider audience. This took time and effort and I could feel Swami as the Doer as I attempted to be the instrument.

Then came an expansion of video programs, a website and Facebook page to allow for wider dissemination of Sai Love to newcomers. When making the most of his gifts, He allows us to experience Him more and more fully as the Doer. If you’d like to see the finished introductory talk on our website, go to http://www.pathoftransformation.org -- and to the video titled "Love all Serve All."

Dear Brother Veeru told me a story about the time he lost a diamond from a ring that Swami had materialized for him. He called devotees to help search the field but darkness stopped them the first day. Early next morning they continued to look for the lost orb of light. Finally, and with miraculous assistance from Swami, the precious diamond was found and held safe and sound. Today the diamond of Dharma is hidden from sight in this dark Kali Yuga–and we as a unified team of devotees must search long and hard in the darkness of the night to bring out His divine light. Swami's soft sweet succor of love can soothe the suffering hearts of our brothers and sisters in these troubling times.

Let us take His direction—and being inspired by his love and Shakti—and making the most of His precious gifts—perfect and refine ourselves and our wonderful Sai Organization—and be a beacon of light to all.

Jai Sai Ram -- Sam and Sharon

National Christmas Celebrations 2012

This year, Sri Sathya Sai National Christmas celebrations were held in Cheltenham, Gloustershire, with the theme being “Our Life is His Message”. The theme chosen is not only glorious but is greatly relevant, as with our Lord’s transition from the form to the formless, it is we, His children, whose duty it is to spread this divine message of His. Our Sai Family gathered into a beautiful and traditional chapel-styled hall, where the feeling of Swami’s presence was verily overwhelming and peaceful. The stage was adorned with a large endearing photo of Baba dressed in a resplendent yellow robe, with His chair close by. Also on the platform, a festive nativity scene was placed alongside a photo of Jesus in the divine company of the Archangel Gabriel, who is the embodiment of purity. What more could we ask for? The spiritual vibrations emanating from Swami’s alter were most magnificent and intense.

The celebrations initiated with invocation Hymns sung by Ms Kathryn Crossweller. After which, a welcome address was given by Mr Mel Griffin, a Trustee from the Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK. In this, Mr Griffin expressed the mission of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, including the 5 human values which Swami‘s teachings are primarily based upon (Love, Peace, Truth, Right-Conduct & Non-Violence), underlining the importance of rendering selfless service and love to mankind.

The service was of the format “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols”, where alternate readings from the Holy Bible and carols are sung. This was led by Reverend Katie McClure, who gave the first reading. Overall, there were a divine number of 9 readings and 9 carols. One representative from each region gave a reading, and amongst the choir our Sai family from all regions took part. Reverend Katie talked about the coming of the Three incarnations at one stage. Although Reverend did not directly speak of the three Avatars as we know them, it did bring about an electric feeling at the time! The singing of carols sent powerful vibrations resonating throughout the building! Whilst carols were being sung, SSE children came upon stage dressed in nativity costumes, giving a radiant visual perspective of the stable when baby Jesus was born. The hymn “We three kings” was accompanied on sitar by Akash Parekh, and this definitely intensified the heavenly atmosphere in the hall! Also not to be forgotten were the precious glimpses of Swami being shown regularly on screen during the whole event, and this indeed was a true Christmas treat to the eyes!

Thereafter, the Mayor of Cheltenham gave an address, in which he also drew attention to the need of extending our hands and hearts into serving society. This was followed by closing Hymns by the Quire Voice Ensemble, Windsor.

After reciting the food prayer, a special Christmas lunch was served lovingly to everyone by volunteers. The way our lunch was served with full devotion was heart-warming, and undoubtedly enhanced the taste of our food! Also, just to mention, the Nut roast was simply delicious! Shortly after lunch followed Gospel singing by the Children’s Choir from Leicester.

Our guest speaker for the day was Reverend Leonora Van Gills from Suffolk, who is a long standing ardent devotee of Swami. Reverend Van Gills shared with us her countless wonderful experiences with Swami, and also expressed how Baba wants us to realise that we are not different from Him. This is such a significant message, as in His physical body, Swami consistently used to say “You are as close to God as you are to yourself.” Reverend Van Gills also sang the first Bhajan of the day! We all thoroughly enjoyed listening to her speech.

This was followed by an elevating Jyoti meditation, and then closing hymns.

Although the real reason behind Christmas is to celebrate the auspicious birth of Lord Jesus, it was a humorous surprise having Santa Claus come from behind the curtain to give out presents to the children. Whilst this was happening, on screen was shown footage of a similar event that happened In Swami’s immediate divine presence in 2003 at Prashanthi Nilayam!

Dr Kiran Patel, the National Chair of our organisation, gave us the closing reflections for the day and To conclude we all sung Swami’s Arati in English, followed by Omkar.

The service was spectacular and we all felt as though we were in the divine abode of Prashanthi Nilayam itself, with Baba gazing intently upon us all!

Jai Sai Ram!
Article Submitted by Radhika Patel from Region 2National Christmas Celebrations 2012

National Christmas Celebrations 2012: Part 1

This year, Sri Sathya Sai National Christmas celebrations were held in Cheltenham, Gloustershire, with the theme being “Our Life is His Message”. The theme chosen is not only glorious but is greatly relevant, as with our Lord’s transition from the form to the formless, it is we, His children, whose duty it is to spread this divine message of His. Our Sai Family gathered into a beautiful and traditional chapel-styled hall, where the feeling of Swami’s presence was verily overwhelming and peaceful. The stage was adorned with a large endearing photo of Baba dressed in a resplendent white robe, with His chair close by. Also on the platform, a festive nativity scene was placed alongside a photo of Jesus in the divine company of the Archangel Gabriel, who is the embodiment of purity. What more could we ask for? The spiritual vibrations emanating from Swami’s altar were most magnificent and intense.

The celebrations initiated with invocation Hymns sung by Ms Kathryn Crossweller. After which, a welcome address was given by Mr Mel Griffin, a Trustee from the Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK. In this, Mr Griffin expressed the mission of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, including the 5 human values which Swami‘s teachings are primarily based upon (Love, Peace, Truth, Right-Conduct & Non-Violence), underlining the importance of rendering selfless service and love to mankind.

The service was of the format “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols”, where alternate readings from the Holy Bible and carols are sung. This was led by Reverend Katie McClure, who gave the first reading. Overall, there were a divine number of 9 readings and 9 carols. One representative from each region gave a reading, and amongst the choir our Sai family from all regions took part. Reverend Katie talked about the coming of the Three incarnations at one stage. Although Reverend did not directly speak of the three Avatars as we know them, it did bring about an electric feeling at the time! The singing of carols sent powerful vibrations resonating throughout the building! Whilst carols were being sung, SSE children came upon stage dressed in nativity costumes, giving a radiant visual perspective of the stable when baby Jesus was born. The hymn “We three kings” was innovatively accompanied on sitar and this definitely intensified the heavenly atmosphere in the hall! Also not to be forgotten were the precious glimpses of Swami being shown regularly on screen during the whole event, and this indeed was a true Christmas treat to the eyes!

Thereafter, the Mayor of Cheltenham gave an address, in which he also drew attention to the need of extending our hands and hearts into serving society. This was followed by closing Hymns by the Quire Voice Ensemble, Windsor.

After reciting the food prayer, a special Christmas lunch was served lovingly to everyone by volunteers. The way our lunch was served with full devotion was heart-warming, and undoubtedly enhanced the taste of our food! Also, just to mention, the Nut roast was simply delicious! Shortly after lunch followed Gospel singing by the Children’s Choir from Leicester.

Our guest speaker for the day was Reverend Leonora van Gils from Suffolk, who is a long standing ardent devotee of Swami. Reverend van Gils shared with us her countless wonderful experiences with Swami, and also expressed how Baba wants us to realise that we are not different from Him. This is such a significant message, as in His physical body, Swami consistently used to say “You are as close to God as you are to yourself.” Reverend van Gils also sang the first Bhajan of the day! We all thoroughly enjoyed listening to her speech. Then followed the elevating Jyoti meditation, and closing Taize chants.

Although the real reason behind Christmas is to celebrate the auspicious birth of Lord Jesus, it was a humorous surprise having Santa Claus come from behind the curtain to give out presents to the children. Whilst this was happening, on screen was shown footage of a similar event that happened In Swami’s immediate divine presence in 2003 at Prashanthi Nilayam! Dr Kiran Patel, the National Chair of our organisation, gave us the closing reflections for the day and to conclude we all sung Swami’s Arati in English, followed by Omkar.

The service was spectacular and we all felt as though we were in the divine abode of Prashanthi Nilayam itself, with Baba gazing intently upon us all!

Jai Sai Ram!
Ms. Radhika Patel
Region 2

National Report 2012

January

The ‘Year of Illumination’ started with the National Orientation and Welcome Day. Dr. Kiran Patel (UK Chair) introduced the theme of the year: ‘Illumination’. ‘We started last year with the theme of ‘Re-Connect’ which reminded us of our heritage, the ideals and principles that Bhagawan had given. After Swami left His mortal coil, we all started to ‘reflect’ on our relationship with Swami and our role. Now we have had time to do this and have got answers to our query – thus the ‘year of illumination’.

The month also bought forward an array of National and Regional events; Service Wing - Experiences at Dang Medical Camp, Youth Wing - National Youth Meeting, Region 1 - YAP: "My Sai and I", Region 2 - New Years Eve Prayers, Region 3 - Ilford Sai Centre: Sankranti Celebration, Region 5 - Working with the Refugees & Asylum Seekers in Newcastle upon Tyne, Region 6 - i-2-I Self Knowledge Workshop: "Who am I?", Region 7 - Mayor of Bath’s Annual Call To Prayer to all Faith Groups, Region 8 - Medicare Initiatives from Scotland

February

February was a month of Regional Orientation and Welcome days and Regional Shrivratri Celebrations took place. Regional Orientation and Welcome days took place in Region 3, 4 and 5 whereby the National Wing work programmes were broken down and plans to implement at a Regional level took place. Regional Shivratri Celebrations took place in Region’s 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 at various venues and capacities but the sacred vibrations created by chanting and singing the Lords name was felt by one and all.

This was also the month where SSLTP had its introduction weekend for the cohorts of 2012 and Region 2 had its SSEHV Holiday School for 5-11 year olds. Results of SSEHV in the community were also seen through Abbey Primary Community School, which is in partnership with the Sri Sathya Sai School in Leicester, recently received an outstanding grade for its Ofsted Inspection. Twenty-nine areas were considered 'Outstanding' from the thirty-two required.

March

This month saw a variety of Spiritual and Service activities both in the Organisation and also out in the wider community. Region 1 had a Sai Laksharchana and Interfaith Walk in Wimbledon, Region 5 had their SSE Training Day and a Devotional Singing Workshop, Region 6 got involved with a local Tree Planting project and in Region 7 Swindon’s SSE Class Celebrated Easter.

March was also busy for the Youth wing where Region 2 and 5 had their Inaugural YAP (Young Adult Programme) sathsangs where themes like ‘The Universal Presence of Sai’ and "Selfless Service to Society is True Sadhana" where explored. Region 3 also had their regular youth Sathsang exploring "Mind, Body and Atma". Service was also on the agenda for Region 1 and 3 whereby Easter Eggs were collected and taken to local Children’s hospitals.

April

The National Gratitude Bhajans 2012 took place on 21st April. The Bhajans commenced with a musical offering. The melodious sound of the flute, keyboard and tabla stilled our minds aiding our preparation to focus on Swami and receive him in our hearts. A video of Swami’s beautiful darshan, life and legacy was being played in the background. This was then followed by an inspirational outpouring of love and gratitude to our Beloved Bhagawan through six hours of continuous Bhajans.

National Sai Remembrance Day 2012. ‘There is only One Religion: The Religion of Love’ is the Divine Declaration of Bhagawan Baba. In the spirit of this Universal Message, the program commenced. We were blessed to have with us, as our esteemed guest for the day, brother Sanjay Sahni, Director of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Brindavan Campus, who gave a rapturous, awe inspiring talk.

Other activities of the month included Youth Sathangs exploring themes like ‘whats next’, ‘Transformation through Service’, ‘Healthy Living the Sai Way’, ‘Bhajans why do we need them?’ and ‘To be’. Region 5 had their Mahasamadhi Celebrations and Region 8 had their Sathsang with Professor Sanjay Sahani. Brighton Centre in Region 6 arranged a memorial bench for Swami in a local park with the engraving ‘'There Is Only One Religion, The Religion Of Love.- Shirdi Sai – Sathya Sai – Prema Sai'’.

May

National Easwaramma Day 2012. Easwaramma Day is celebrated the world over by Sai devotees, commemorating the passing away of Mother Easwaramma, Bhagawan Baba’s Chosen Mother, on 6th May 1972. Children attending SSE (Sai Spiritual Education) classes offer their gratitude to mothers for their love and sacrifice through participation in various activities on this day. The theme chosen for this event was centred around expressing gratitude to the ‘5 Mothers’ that Bhagawan has taught us to revere. These include, apart from our physical mother (Dehamaatha), our Motherland (Desamaatha), our Scriptures (Vedamaatha), our Cattle (Gomaatha), our Mother Earth (Bhoomaatha).

Other activities in the month included Regional Easwaramma Day Celebrations in Region 1 and 8, Sathsangs with Brother Sri Sanjay Sahni, Region 2 Age Link Party with the theme Love in Action and Unity in Diversity, Region 3 held a Free Walk in Health Awareness clinic in Central London, Region 5 Cutting the Ties that Bind Workshop in Halifax, Region 7 – Laksharchana in Bristol and SSE Swindon joining in with the Jubilee Celebrations. Youth Sathsangs also took place in Region 1, 2 5 and 6 exploring themes ‘Meet the Stranger’ and ‘Making our Lives Swami’s Message’.

June

This month 2 Free walk in Health Awareness clinic’s took place, in Region 2 and 6. Sai-lympics Family Fun Day took place in Region 4 along with a Ladies Event in Leicester and Shirdi Sai Satcharitra Reading in Gujarati in Leicester. In Region 5 Summer Bhajans took place in the Gita Bhavan Hindu Temple and a Youth Retreat took place in the Isle of Man entitled "Art of Living...Art of Life". Region 6 held a Lakcharchana in Basingstoke.

July

The month of July started auspiciously with the Rudra Ekadashi Homam on the 1st of the month at the sacred and holy premises of the Shri Venkateswara Temple in Birmingham. The UK had the opportunity to offer our loving gratitude to our dear Lord, Master, Guide and Satguru Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on the auspicious occasion of Gurupoornima. Also, on the day of Gurupoornima, July 3rd, a Bhajan Book iphone application developed by one of our UK Youth was launched.

Three Free Health Awareness Days were conducted by the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (SSSSO), Region 2, in association with Brent Indian Association (BIA), Wembley; Region 6, Farnborough in association with Hampshire NHS Trust and Rushmoor Council; and Region 3 at The Mayor’s Newham Show. The youth of Region 5 also managed to organise a Youth Retreat on The Isle of Man entitled "Art of Living...Art of Life" which was a great success.

Sathya Sai Centres across the country celebrated Global Service Day. Coventry and Rugby joined together and invited elderly and disabled people from care homes around Coventry and Rugby and provide entertainment, delicious food and a fun day out!

August

After an absence of several years, the UK National Sai Retreat exploded onto the scene in 2012 and was held in Llandudno, North Wales, from 17th to 19th August. Talks given by the eminent guest speakers, Mr Vadgama and Professor Anil Kumar, calmed and cheered the attendees. There were no highlights at this weekend, as all the programmes and the hospitality were of an exceptionally high standard and very enjoyable. There were two surprise events: the laksharchan spanning two days that was conducted by Mr Vadgama; and the talk on the Saturday evening by the professor of his experiences, prompted by ex-Sai students who were actually present when these events occurred. Professor Anil Kumar toured for a whole week speaking to devotees from every corner of the UK spreading Swami’s message with fun and a zeal for life.

Regional SSE Sport Days were held around the country; with the Olympics coming to the capital in the summer of 2012, this day provided the opportunity to create a buzz amongst the Sai children and their parents as they took part in their very own day of athletics. The idea behind these sporting events is to encourage healthy competition, and show how important teamwork and team spirit are. As our Divine Master says; "the mind sees separateness; Love sees unity."

On Sunday 26th August, Sai devotees from Regions 1, 2, 3 and 6, young and old, gathered to offer their selfless service at the NHS Blood Donor Centre near Oxford Circus, Central London, from 9.30am until 3.30pm. Our beloved Swami has always placed an emphasis on the beautiful yet simple words, "Love all, serve all." With this in mind, the project of ‘Liquid Love’ was born, to enable Sai devotees around the UK to donate blood to help save the lives of others.

September

With the Grace of our Lord, the second annual Sai Ideal Healthcare Seminar was held in Hatfield, London on the 16th September 2012. The seminar attracted health care professionals from across the UK, all of whom were eager to share experiences and expertise on advancing the Sai Global Healthcare Mission.

The theme for this year’s Seminar was “Sai Ideal Healthcare through sustained Partnerships” and during the course of the day, a wide variety of projects, being conducted both locally and internationally, were presented, illustrating the impact of healthcare projects delivered with love and compassion.

Devotees from across the UK, united in adoration and love for our Beloved Bhagawan, in Watford, London for a second instalment of ‘Sai Smaran’ – a loving offering of Bhajans, expressing our gratitude at the divine lotus feet of our Beloved Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The Bhajans also formed part of the sadhana for the UK Pilgrims about to embark on a wonderful spiritual journey to Prashanti the following week. The final Pilgrimage meeting also took place at the venue 2-4.30pm.

Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme Outward Bound Weekend, Upminster, Essex. The SSLTP weekend session incorporated outdoor activities in addition to the normal modular lessons.

Region 4 get their hand dirty in Scaly Forest where they were assigned the task of cleaning up a secluded area of the forest where trees had previously been cut down. The area had lots of branches and other debris which was cleared up to allow for new plants to grow.

Region 7 hosted a Basic and Intermediate level SSE training over the weekend of 15th & 16th September 2012. The Cheltenham group hosted our Basic Training day. The training was attended by SSE teachers, both new and experienced as well as office bearers and parents.

October

Journey to the Divine Light - The much anticipated pilgrimage ‘Sai Jyothi’ became a reality as the U.K devotees queued excitedly in front of N7 in the divine and serene surroundings of Prashanti Nilayam on the glorious morning of 7th October 2012. From the moment we stepped into the portals of our spiritual birthplace, our Divine Mother’s home, it was a home-coming that will remain forever etched in our hearts.

Region 5, in conjunction with Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust and Oldham Council (Greater Manchester), successfully hosted its 2nd Health Awareness Day on 6th October, 2012. The event was inaugurated by the Mayor of Oldham, Councillor Olwen Chadderton who was also joined by Oldham’s Director of Public Health, Mr. Alan Higgins.

Both the guests and the volunteers enjoyed the Region 1 Youth cowboy themed Age Link Party immensely. As with all Age Link events, the exhaustion of everyone in the hall bore testament to the level of participation and enjoyment throughout the day.

Region 4, After a wonderful Laksharchan at the National Retreat, the Divine Light was brought to Coventry by our most beloved brother Vadgama who gave us another opportunity to chant the name of Bhagawan in such an uplifting manor. Through his unwavering faith, we received Swami’s Prasadam of Divine Light once again.

November

National Birthday Celebration - Aptly reflecting the theme for the day- The Light in our Hearts- the programme commenced with a beautifully choreographed traditional Bharatha Natyam dance titled ‘Deepanjali- An Adoration of Light’. Our beloved ‘little hearts’, SSE children from all across the country, who lovingly presented their Lamps of Love at the Divine Feet of our Bhagawan. Esteemed guests from America, Dr Samuel Sandweiss and his wife Sharon, reminded all those present of our unique fortune in being the contemporaries of the Sathya Sai Avathar who bestowed His Love constantly and unconditionally on all of us, and who worked all His Life tirelessly towards our spiritual transformation. Everyone who has ever been fortunate enough to be in the Divine presence on His birthday (or seen the videos) knows that the Jhoola ceremony is an immensely special and unique part of an unforgettable celebration. This event was no exception, and the Jhoola swayed once again to the divine melodies in the form of a beautiful music offering by a group of 11 extraordinarily talented musicians.

Dr Samuel and Sharon Sandweiss following the National Birthday Celebrations tirelessly travelled around the country speaking at Sathsangs and interacting closely with devotees. This culminated in London with a unique opportunity for SSE teachers and parents to listen to the wisdom and experience our guests could share which was generously interspersed with Swami’s love. Finally the youth had the same opportunity to interact with Dr Samuel Sandweiss who is a global visionary that has big ideas on how to spread Swami’s message referring to Swami’s thoughts on the youth and how they should be courageous like lions taking his mission forward, and living by His message.

"Akhanda Bhajans is unbroken Bliss - This day You have resolved to imbibe Divine Bliss by reciting the Glow of God in chorus with music continuously for twenty-four hours" - Sathya Sai Speaks - volume 13. Between Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November 2012, Centres from around the UK hosted worldwide Akhand Bhajans, designed by our beloved Swami.

Ladies Day was also marked by most regions and activities ranged from Satsangs, ‘Serving man, Serving God’ to practical sessions on ‘Laughter Yoga’ and seva in local communities.

December

National Christmas Celebrations held at Cheltenham Ladies College - The whole day had flowed seamlessly, guided by the gentle touch of the MC for the day Dr. Mahesh and Mel Griffin’s eloquently respectful opening welcome; the delightful singing of the Children’s Gospel Choir; the beautiful carols and Bible readings telling the story of the nativity, led impeccably by the Rev. Katie McClure. SSE children represented from all regions acted out the nativity beautifully and innocently as only children can. The Mayor of Cheltenham, Councillor Colin Haye gave an impassioned and thought provoking talk on the importance of such sathsangs. Rev. Leonora Van Gils spoke so eloquently on Swami’s message of love and the day was intermingled with wonderful music. The SSE children made an offering of cookies which they decorated themselves to a local Elderly home and the day was completed with an appearance from Father Christmas.

Christmas celebrations were held around the UK where SSE children took part in nativities and carols were sung. Simultaneously, local communities were served through feeding the homeless, shoebox appeals in collaboration with the Samaritans and Help the Aged to name a few.

Youth Wing - Sathya Sai Leadership and Training Programme (SSLTP): Module 6

Courage, Excitement, Thrill. All are the ingredients of a good Hollywood/Bollywood movie? Perhaps. But they also mark the experiences in the day of a SSLTP cohort. I am a SSLTP cohort and I want to take you on my journey of SSLTP from module 6.

Each day, nay, each moment, is so different on this course. This particular day the awakening was to a crisp yet fresh morning. Looking outside our warm log cabin you are transported to a Narnia like world. Are we living in the Kali Yuga which is hallmarked with troubles and misery or in a secluded forest full where perhaps Lord Rama walked or where Lord Buddha gained enlightenment? After the morning prayer session, a relaxing yet stimulating yoga session commenced, stretching not only the body but the mind. From this we conclude with a pious prayer session invoking the Gods and anchoring ourselves for the day to come. After a hearty breakfast the feast for the mind begins. Or maybe the soul.

We spend the morning in a deep reflective exercise analysing why we came on this course. What have I picked up and what are my challenges. Self-audit is a powerful tool in leadership and in life in general. Uncle Sri skilfully navigates us through the answers tying it all back to our previous modules.

Another session is an energetic and skilful team puzzle solving exercise. Am I on the crystal maze or krypton factor. 6 minutes is all we were given to solve a near impossible puzzle. How old could the captain be? He can't be French, he must be a football player. Buzzzzz time out. 6 minutes over. The committee gives us an analysis of how we did. Not at getting the answers. But the process we took. We ignored the quiet members. Some of us (maybe me) were too loud. Life is the journey not the destination. We're given another 6 mins. Do we learn from our feedback? Frantic frantic. Buzz another 6 mins. Our process is analysis again. We make notes as this is valuable feedback for later.

The following day our souls are treated to a sumptuous feast of personal experiences. Four guest speakers from all walks of life gave us their take on spirituality and leadership. Even if they did not realise, the spirituality oozed out of their experiences. The guests spoke about the challenges they faced. Commanding a force of 1000 police men and having to answer to the task of making a number of them redundant, but it not agreeing with your inner core. How do you deal with it? What do you draw upon? Another experience; you only survive on £300 a week and you come across a homeless person. You want to help so you decide to buy a pair of shoes as his are falling apart. You only want to spend £30 but your inner conscious says that's not right. You end up buying a £130 pair. That's nearly 1/3 your weekly income. How do you reconcile your inner voice?

True leaders listen to their inner no matter how much it hurts. Authentic leadership. Remember leadership is the intelligent and sensitive use of power.

Yatin Mistry
SSLTP Cohort 2012/13

Region 1 - 87th Anniversary of the Divine Advent

Bromley Sai Centre

Brommly centre Celebrated Beloved Baba’s Birthday on 23rd November at the United Reformed Church in Bromley. Around 70 devotees attended the event. The evening commenced with chanting of the Lord Ganesha mantras, Gayatri mantras and Sai Gayatris followed by the Paduka Namaavali and Devotional Bhajans. The young Balvikas children then sang Bhajans while the older ones showed us drawings which they had made with some of Swami’s sayings written on them. They then sang an adapted Beatles song – I wanna hold your hand. Our Guest Speaker was Brother Vicknesh, who spoke about the meaning of Surrender and then how we should not compare ourselves to others - just to be ourselves is the best way. He sang part of a Bhajan from the heart, and said that we should sing like Mira who sang with such great devotion that Lord Krishna appeared before her. He concluded by saying : Life without God is like an unsharpened Pencil - it has no point. Beautiful Solo Bhajans performed by Dr. Sharavanan Jeyanathan followed and also Devotional singing by some of our Centre members. The Dhun (Om Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Babaaya Namaha) was sung in Unison which gave very strong Vibrations. Cutting of the Birthday Cake, the Birthday Song and the Closing Prayers brought a finish to the evening; all that was left then was to enjoy Baba’s tasty Birthday Prasadam - which we all did – Thank you Swami.

Kingston Sai Centre

Lots of devotees came in early in the morning to help set up the hall and the alter. We had a delightful "Krishna's and Gopi's" dance performed by the SSE children , a beautiful flute performance by one of our SSE boys, a wonderful musical offering from our youth and an inspiring speech from one of Swami's students. The celebrations went very well and we ended with Swami's birthday song and aarati.

Thornton Heath

We celebrated Swami’s birthday on 22nd November at our usual Thursday bhajan session. Few devotees came early to decorate the altar to make the venue more welcoming and pleasing for devotees. We started with 3 aums, Ganesh sholka, 3 Gayatri mantras, 108 naam astotras followed by bhajans. After the last bhajan the usual happy birthday song was sung 3 times, during with time the candles were lit on the home made cakes made by one of our devotees. We are a small group, round about 50 devotees attended.

Lewisham Sai Centre

The day that is special in history of His story, a day that marks the advent of His Divine presence, 23 November was celebrated with great fervour at Lewisham Sai Centre. In the evening, the hall was gorgeously decorated with flowers & cloth hanging & warm welcome extended to Guest Speaker Reverend Leonora van Gils.

The programme commenced at 18.00 with Paduka Abhishekam & 108 Sri Sathya Sai Ashtotras followed by Introductory address by the Centre chair and other members who threw light on the beautiful Messages of Bhagawan emphasizing the underlying unity of all religions and the fundamental message of love and peace. Thus, we see today, devotees professing different faiths being drawn to Bhagawan from all over the world and deriving the bliss of celebrating this festivity in His Divine presence.

SSE children enacted a Play, who gave a nice presentation. The drama was a treat to watch and feast to listen. At the end of the programme these SSE were felicitated. Guest Speaker Reverend Leonora van Gils, a business woman, who came to know about Sathya Sai Baba first time in 1995 through a book and proceeded to Puttaparthi. She shared her initial experience as extra-ordinary witness to His miracles in her address to the audience and narrated her first inter-action with Bhagawan and revealed that Sai Baba, without any introduction, announced her name and place she hailed from. She was impressed and fully convinced about His divinity & omnipresence. Paying her obeisance to Bhagawan, she said that whatever she achieved in life. After few Bhajans, “Aarthi” was offered and Prashadam was distributed to devotees, consisting of 350. Everyone enjoyed the event, which was really vibrating and relished the Prashadam.

Brixton Sai Centre

The celebration commenced with Vedic chanting, multi faith prayers, recitation of Swami’s 108 names, followed by group devotional singing. The SSE children presented a beautiful offering to Bhagawan in a form of a play entitled, 'The Consequences of One's Act'. The play, adapted from a Middle Eastern tale set in Iraq, took the audience on a wonderful journey. The children brought tears of laughter to their eyes and ended with a valuable message by Bhagawaan: ‘Desire is storm, Greed is whirlpool, Pride is precipice, Attachment is avalanche, and Ego is volcano. Discard these and you will be liberated. Desire is a bonfire that burns with greater fury, asking for more fuel. Desire is the sole cause of sorrow and distress. You should distinguish right from wrong and be honest, upright and virtuous’. Towards the end of the programme, devotees heartily sang, 'Aayaa Janam Din Tumhaaraa' (Your birthday has come), during which the SSE children gathered around the beautifully adorned cake to cut it. A full meal was served to all thereafter. It was touching to see every individual take great care and attention in the planning and preparations leading to the very special day. It is not possible to describe the love and unity that shone through every individual. The presence of our beloved Bhagawaan was greatly felt in every heart.

Merton Sai Centre

At any Sai centre or institution, the annual celebration of Swami's Divine Advent is a landmark within the calendar of festivals and events. Having celebrated Swami’s Birthday in the Sai Mandir, on the 23rd November, for the past 31 years, this year was no exception.

The active members of Merton Sai Centre had worked for several months prior to the actual Day, planning and preparing the Mandir and adjoining Temple Dining and Upper Halls for the more than 800 devotees who come every year to share the joy of this most special of days. The main altar in the Mandir was decorated in regal fashion and Swami's special Jhoola decorated and installed for the occasion. Special, beautifully decorated altars were created in each of the other two halls, and audio-visual links to the Sai Mandir ensured that even those who were not able to get into the Mandir, were still able to see the main altar and the various ceremonies that would take place. In addition, many dedicated seva ladies made and packed over 1000 bags of Prasaadam to distribute to the congregation at the end of the celebrations.

The evening began with a group of our SSE students, who have been attending our regular Vedam Classes and are taught by one of the Sai brothers from Swami’s University in Puttaparthy. The beauty and intonation of these young voices was a joy to listen to, harmonising with the reverberating chants of Sridhar Iyer from the adjoining Ghanapathy Temple, who accompanied them and also performed Aarathi after each verse of the Jhoola Song, as a picture of Swami was rocked gently on the Mandir’s carved wooden Jhoola.

The dedication and devotion of the young SSE children, youth and adult singers and instrumentalists, who led the bajan singing later that evening, shone through the beauty and perfect pitch created from the many weekly practices they had in the months before the celebrations. The priest also performed Mangala Aarathi at the end of a vibrant and blissful Bhajan, after which he recited Vedic slokas and hymns, including Sanyaasa Suktam, in adoration of the Lord. The uniting of the congregation in singing Swami's Birthday Song, Tere Janam Din Mey Sai Tujhe Koti Pranaam Karenge ('O Lord Sai, on this day, the Anniversary of Your Divine Advent, we offer a million salutations to You'), marked a heart-stirring moment within the passage of the celebrations.

It would be impossible to make a blanket quantification of 'how well' the celebrations went on the Day. Based solely on physical and material criteria, more than 1000 devotees came throughout the day and for the evening programme to the Mandir, to offer their salutations and prayers to our beloved Lord on this most special of days. Each would have taken away their own feelings of peace and joy, unbeknownst to the group of dedicated volunteers – Sai brothers and sisters, who worked tirelessly (as they do throughout the year) to ensure that this permanent place of worship for Swami continues to serve the needs of His devotees in the UK. But a small, beautiful incident we learnt of later may help us understand that the work that is done in His name goes far beyond what we understand;
Traditionally, some of the young SSE children are chosen to cut the many cakes that are made and brought to the Mandir for Swami on His Birthday. This year, as the bajans were drawing to a close, one of the seva volunteers realised that there was no-one to cut one of the cakes in the upper hall. He had noticed a small boy sitting near the front of the hall throughout the celebrations, fully concentrated on Swami’s picture, praying and smiling and joyfully clapping and singing throughout the bajans. He wasn’t dressed in white and white, but he recognised that he was one of the SSE children, and the young child’s one pointed devotion was such that he felt compelled to ask him if he would like to cut Swami’s cake at the end of the celebrations. The shock and absolute joy on the child’s face was enough for him to know he had made the right choice and, after the celebrations were over, the child’s mother came to the sevadal member, with tears in her eyes, and explained that her son had, from a young age been a Sai devotee, and had brought the whole of the rest of the family to believe in Swami, which had given them strength and hope through some great difficulties they had undergone. And this small act by the sevadal member had meant so much to them, as a personal blessing from Swami.

Every devotee present will have received directly from Swami exactly what they needed. From witnessing the above, and many more incidents in the Mandir, it became very clear just how much Swami means to His devotees everywhere, in real and practical terms; how that Bond of Love exists between Him and them, and how this Love manifests itself ceaselessly in action. It could be seen in the tears of love flowing from the devotees, as footage of Swami was shown on the screen during the first few items of classical Indian music that day; it could be seen in the cheerful dedication of those looking after the devotees shoes outside in the freezing cold, in the conscientiousness, diligence and inexhaustible devotion that went into the preparations as a whole - from making the Birthday cakes to decorating the Mandir; in the sheer power and volume of the chorus provided by the devotees during the Bhajans and prayers; and in the silence and serenity of those devotees who, in the midst of discharging their worldly duties, with Swami ever fixed in their hearts, make it a point never to miss these Birthday Celebrations.

But, above all, this Love could be seen most evidently from the inner joy radiating from everyone – the inner joy that only Swami can give, in reciprocation for one's devotion and ongoing spiritual yearning, as the programme for the evening concluded with the prayer for peace for the individual, peace for the community and peace for the world.......Om Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi.

Tooting Sai Centre:

Tooting Sai Centre celebrated Swamis 87th birthday first with house bhajans on 23 November and then combined with ladies day celebrations at the centre on Sunday 25 November 2012. On Sunday 25th, the proceedings started with multi faith prayers, then a havan with appropriate offerings into the kund and recitation of the 108 names of Bhagwan, during when all present joined in the puja, saffron coloured rice grains were offered to individual photos of our beloved bhagwan followed by bhajans and a reading. After a short comfort and refreshments break all were once again seated, eagerly awaiting the next events, which started with experiences of Swami, first from a parent who shared how her child attending SSE has helped her then a centre member who now lives in the USA shared how Swamis leelas have helped her family and finally a devotee who now lives in Spain told us how Swami help his son, the story was so moving that many in the audience were in tears. The next event was a devotee playing the “Raag Brindabani Saran" on the Bansuri (indian flute) - a playful song and the sound which was heard when Lord Krishna was born, the sound was Divine. Following this was piece set in rag Yaman played on the sitar and tablas with a background video of Bhagwans darshan, this truly transported all present to the tranquillity of Prasanthi Nilayam. A six year old SSE student then entertained all with a dance piece based on pure jathis (beats) which contains intricate sequence of steps. The final event was an offering to bhagwan by the young adults of the centre. The inspiration for this offering came from their recent music retreat, in which they spent a few days away in the Surrey countryside, being inspired and learning new material. The repertoire included a medley of bhajans and other various songs as well as a piece composed by all of them collectively. The programme concluded with the Birthday song and cutting of a homemade cake, aarti and maha prasadam prepared lovingly by the ladies of the centre. The centre ladies participated in the in all aspects of the programme as well as beautifully setting the alter and providing the delicious Prasad. The programme came to an end, and everyone who attended felt thoroughly rejuvenated

Mitcham

Swami’s Birthday Celebrations were held on Friday 30th November. We had Sai Padugha Puja for the continuous chanting of Gayatri Mantra followed by bhajans where children, Youth and adults participated. A beautiful birthday cake that was cut by all the children when all devotees sang the famous birthday song for our beloved Lord - followed by Arthi and Vibuthi mantra. We then had a brief interactive session about the significance of Sai Birthday when HE had declared that HE has no birth or death.
We then had Maha-prasadam

Chessington

Celebration was held on Thursday 22nd November with special bhajan.

Region 1 - Christmas Celebrations at Merton Sai Centre

25th December 2012

Over the years, Christmas in the UK has sadly become very commercialised. With people digging into their bank accounts and borrowing on credit cards to buy presents, decorations and food - the true meaning of Christmas can be buried under a mountain of materialism! However at the Merton Sai Centre the tradition stands that, on Christmas Day, Christmas is celebrated as one big Sai family at the Sai Mandir, with the true meaning of this special day dwelled upon with joy, through the eyes of the young SSE children.

The celebrations began at 4pm on Christmas day with three Gayathri Mantras, the 108 names of Bhagavan and a few special bhajans. Then the Merton Sai Centre SSE children performed the Christmas Nativity Play. After many weeks of rehearsals, the Group One and Nursery children told us the Christmas story with joy, excitement and sincerity. There were several dances performed by the Nursery children (from the tender age of just 4 +) which included an angel dance, a donkey dance, drummer boy’s dance and even a sheep dance, interspersed within the scenes of the play, with lovely costumes and lovely music.

The children at such a young and tender age were able to put a smile on everyone’s faces and reminded us of exactly why we celebrate Christmas. People remembered that Christmas should not merely be a shopping exercise, running up and down the high street, nor partying over the Christmas holidays, serving alcohol and meat. It’s about remembering the birth of Lord Jesus and His Mission. The play concept was so lovely – a real Sai Christmas Play – bringing in Swami’s teachings through the eyes of a grandfather and his SSE grandchildren, without detracting from the original nativity story.

I remember that Professor Anil Kumar quoted in one of his Sathsangs:

"Jesus has come down to help all of us who are poor in spirit, such that we will enrich ourselves with the depth of understanding, with the depth of experience, with the profundity of knowledge. Jesus always lived amongst the poor, meaning he wanted to release the poor people not from their financial poverty, but from their spiritual poverty. This is what I understand as I look at Jesus Christ and His mission. He further said that the kingdom of heaven is within you; Jesus stands for Love. Love is the synonym of Jesus. Baba said, “If you want to know Me, if you want to come closer to Me, if you want to be near and dear to Me, the only secret is Love and Love alone.” So, Jesus is Love; Baba is Love."

Once the Nativity Play had finished to thundering applause, the Group three SSE children of Merton Sai Centre sang traditional Christmas carols which included: Joy to the World, Amazing Grace, Jingle Bells, We wish you a merry Christmas and a special song performed in Prashanthi Nilayam Christmas celebration, “Om Sai Ram”. The carols were well rehearsed and lifted everyone’s spirits as they joined together in harmony, the audience listening with great appreciation and singing along with well loved carols. It was amazing to see that, in total, 47 young children had taken part in the Nativity play and 30+ older children sang the carols – a true reflection of the dedication of the SSE teachers who had given so much of their time, effort and love to train them. Father Christmas put in his much anticipated appearance, throwing sweets to all the adult audience, whose hands eagerly went up to catch the rainbow shower of chocolate and sweets - showing that, at this time of year, we are all children at heart!

The celebrations ended with three more bhajans and Mangala Arathi - performed, in time-honoured tradition at the Mandir, by Father Christmas, who then distributed gifts and sweets to all the children. Refreshments were served at the close of the program.

It was a wonderful day spent with our large Sai family. The birth of Jesus, our Saviour, was celebrated with joy and spirituality, capturing a little of what we feel when we go and celebrate Christmas in Prashanthi. And everyone, from the smallest child to the oldest member of the audience, took Swami’s message about Christmas home with them, keeping the joy of the birth of Lord Jesus in our hearts.

Jai Sai Ram

Region 1 - Christmas Youth Service Activity

"Service is worship. Each act of service is a flower placed at the feet of God." ~ Baba

On 14th December, Region 1 youth collaborated in a service project as part of their monthly youth activity called "Hands that help are holier than lips that pray", hosted by youth from Tooting Sai Centre at the Sai Mandir in Merton.

The aim was to make hampers for a homeless shelter called The Passage, based in London Victoria. 59 hampers were lovingly made and decorated as a Christmas gift. Each centre within Region 1 was assigned with the task of collecting items in advance. This year we packed a sleeping bag, wooly hat, scarf, gloves, socks and a raincoat into each hamper. Support was also given from Centre Chairs and Service Co-ordinators in collecting items.

God always gives us the opportunities to serve our fellow human beings, and we must be ready to take up that opportunity. The devoted youth came together and performed Swami's message of Love All Serve All. Let us continue with this message of Love in Action and make our life His Message.

Youth from
Tooting Sai Centre
Region 1

Region 1 - Regional Christmas Celebration

On Saturday 22nd December 2012 Region one congregated at Rivers Dale Primary School to celebrate the annual Christmas Celebration hosted by Sathya Sai Centre of Wimbledon.

The programme commenced with Multi-faith prayers and group devotional singing by the SSE children. Devotees were very much inspired by interactive talks from brother Jonathan from Wimbledon, Sister Sandra from Bromley and a Sathya Sai discourse based on Christmas by an SSE student from Tooting including a poem recited by an SSE student of Brixton. Brother Karthik, former student of Sri Sathya Sai institute Prashanthi Nilayam and Region 3 Spiritual co-ordinator gave a talk about his divine experiences with Bhagawan Himself. It reminded us the significance and relevance of Christ's teachings.

Christmas carols were sung by SSE children from Wimbledon Sai Centre.

Thereafter, we were visibly enthralled with the nativity play by the SSE children of Merton Sai Centre. Mary, baby Jesus and Joseph were accompanied by a magnificent star, the three wise men and the three kings along with dancing donkeys and sheep which was enjoyed by all.

The programme concluded with a short bhajan, mangala aarati and a visit by a small red- suited, all white bearded, one and only Father Christmas who had brought goodies in a large red bag for all the children. Maha prasatham was served. Everyone left with a big smile on their faces, full of Christmas spirits!

Region 1 - Sai Legend Visits Sai Mandir

Thursday 29th November

For so many of us, Dr Sam Sandweiss’ book, the Holy Man and the Psychiatrist, was our first introduction to Swami. To read it is to be taken right back to the years to rediscover that early thrill of discovering the Avatar. So, unsurprisingly, the temple at Merton was packed as we awaited the arrival of Dr Sam Sanweiss and his wife Sharon.

First impressions were of a couple still as enthusiastic and dedicated to Swami as when they started out on their adventure 40 years ago. Retirement has not slowed them down and in fact they have only increased their dedication and effort in undertaking Swami’s work all over the world. Sam’s main messages was that we should all be making our lives into a song and to sing it out confidently.

Sam and Sharon shared the stage and Sam spoke of his attempt to make a film about Swami, with Swami’s apparent encouragement which is currently being uploaded onto a website that he is putting together. Another recent project for the couple was when they and their Centre put together a wonderful free concert for the enjoyment of local people in their area. Snippets of the concert were shown and we could see that the standard of the production and of the artistes was superb. Sam’s message of not letting ourselves underestimate ourselves stayed with us, and this encouraged us to use our talents and find a way to use it and make our lives into a song.

Sharon’s bubbly and humerous paersonailty was infectious and she captured the entire audience’s attention. She lovingly spoke about raising 4 daughters to love Swami whilst living the American life. Sharon reminded us of the importance Swami gives to women and the old phrase “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world". She spoke of Swami’s determination to get their girls married and taking on the role of organising their husbands himself. It was initially apparent to them that not all the sons-in-law ticked all the parental boxes in terms of not vegetarians or Sai devotees, but as long as they were of good character, that seemed to be Swami’s main criterion – now 3 of the 4 daughters are happily married and the grandchildren are coming along.

Finally, Sam took us through a short film on the Water Project. He suggested that this was the way to talk about Swami and his work. He himself is soon to present a paper to a Conference of Psychiatrists on Swami.

Having both of these esteemed guests in the centre was a treat for the eyes and the ears. To hear so many experiences they had with Bhagawan left and impression on us all, and their infectious enthusiasm brought a lasting smile to everyone who heard them.

Region 1 - Wimbledon Sai Centre Welcomes in 2013

As has now become tradition, Wimbledon Sai Centre held its annual morning bhajans on New Years Day, to provide its devotes the opportunity to welcome in 2013 singing bhajans to our beloved Swami. The new years bhajan actually holds further significance to Wimbledon Sai Centre as it also marks the anniversary of the formation of the Sai Centre, this year being the 31st.

As is now tradition, a Hindu priest is called, and he offers prayers to Lord Ganesha and offers the prayers of the congregation to our beloved Lord, after which bhajans commence. Wimbledon Sai Centre is fortunate to have within its ranks, many musically talented youth members, and they performed a short musical interlude that was well received. This musical performance was made up the flute, violin, mridigam & morsing.

After the arathi, Maha Prasadham was served. This also provided the opportunity for a small presentation on the second stage of the Eswaramma project that is currently being undertaken in Sri Lanka, to help the people of Sri Lanka become self sufficient, and in tying with this, the rice crops and curry powder that has been cultivated by the farmers in Sri Lanka was made available for the congregation to purchase.

Everyone from Wimbledon Sai Centre would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy & prosperous 2013, and hope to welcome you to our Centre in the near future.

Region 2 - Christmas 2012 at Harrow West Sai Centre

The annual Christmas celebrations are a much anticipated and highly exciting event and it lived up to all those expectations. As the devotees arrived they were greeted by a beautiful altar decorated with vibrant red, green and gold colours enhancing the Christmas atmosphere. When the prayers began, the sound of all the devotees chanting the Lord ’s Prayer filled the Oxhey Wood hall with positive vibrations. The bhajans that followed were no exception. Despite already having a tabla, one of the devotees played a western drum which added a new dimension to the carols, raising our Christmas spirits.

The Christmas programme continued with the much awaited SSE play, ‘A Christmas to believe in’. The story was to show the miracle of the birth of baby Jesus. The audience were wowed by the performances of all the characters in this nativity play.

We were blessed to have Brother Yohan speaking to us about connecting to consciousness and forgiveness. His presentation created a sense of joy and peace. It was also a reminder for us that we are from God. Brother Yohan finished the talk by playing a wonderful video that consisted of a moving song, great quotes and beautiful pictures.

To add to the Christmas feel, we had a visit from Father Christmas. We sang some traditional carols in high spirits whilst catching the sweets that were thrown from Santa. The SSE children especially were overjoyed by his arrival, even more by the presents that Santa had brought with him. It was a truly memorable event.

After the programme ended, the devotees were treated to a tea party. Scrumptious snacks with hot and cold drinks were served. They day was great success due to our beloved Swami’s grace and the hard work of our Sai family members. Swami says, ‘My Life is my message’ and throughout these celebrations we experienced love and selfless service from the devotees. May we continue to practise all that we have learnt from Him, so that our life is His message.

Jai Sai Ram.

Region 2 - New Years Eve Bhajans

Our Region 2 New Years Eve bhajans was filled with an atmosphere of Unity and also Togetherness this year!

It was an excellent opportunity for devotees from opposite ends of the region to talk, to sing and to see the New Year in. The programme started at 9pm with light refreshments followed by enchanting opening prayers and then following this there were bhajans from 10:00pm to 11:58pm. We then broke the new year in with 21 Divine Aumkars. The idea being to have the Sound of the Aum vibrating within us and all around as the New Year came in. It was also found the method in which the Aumkars were guided, bringing the energy up from the lower abdomen (Navel area) up to the Head, Vibrating fully, and travelling back down again, brought about a very divine experience!

A two minute silence at the stroke of midnight then provided the perfect opportunity for all those present to thank Bhagwan for the year just gone and pray for guidance, love and spiritually uplifting the year ahead! Next in the program was our Ganesh Prathana followed by three short bhajans to enter into 2013.

It was clear from the celebrations that the whole region had come together to reinforce Swami's message that Unity IS Divinity and the reason we are together is only because of Swami, and his teachings.

For the devotees from Slough, it was even more poignant to hold this event in this hall. After 16 years, this was the last time bhajans were to be held there before the centre moved to a new venue.

Tears flowed not because of the move, but in joy to thank Swami for 16 glorious years at this centre and also the chance to spread his message and his Divine vibrations, at another special Venue in Slough – another home!.

Our Regional Chair, Sister Bhadra Patel thanked everyone who took part in making this event so memorable and special for so many of us. All were reminded that this was the time to reflect on the past year and also remember all the many good lessons learnt. The Sai Centre Slough family were wished more glorious years at their new location, they were encouraged to continue all the good work they had all done to build such a strong foundation and that may the Revered Elders of the Centre continue to share their knowledge, experience and wisdom with the Children and Youth and that may the Children and Youth continue to serve the Elderly and get their Blessings.

All in all, it was a truly spiritual uplifting evening as we all prayed that may our Bhagavan bless the whole Region 2 Sai Family with longevity, health and goodness.

With Love,
Article submitted by Sandeep Mohan of Sai Centre Slough and Suresh Sajnani, Spiritual Coordinator

Region 3 - Christmas Seva by Hatfield Sai Centre

One of our youth member who is very committed and motivated was very keen to bring this idea of singing carols to residents living in Nursing home which we have never heard or visited before.

Our Christmas carol singing service started with initial preparation and planning to decide on the right day to visit the nursing home. With Swami's blessings and guidance we have been able to communicate with the manager and organize this service within a short period of time.

Our volunteers and active workers came forward in making plans and organizing practice sessions as we all wanted to sing from our heart with 100% perfection.

On Sunday the 16th December when we arrived at the Nursing Home we were welcomed by the manager, caring professionals and visitors of the residents. We were introduced as Sai Group of friends from Hatfield Sai Centre.

We were requested to sing in four units with carers, visitors and residents. We invited all of them to participate and sing with us and distributed printed Carol sheets to them. Everyone felt the joy in singing with them, some of them were able to move their arms and experience the joy of singing to the divine. Some of them were clapping hands and encouraging everyone to join and sing.

We have been able to share the love and happiness with everyone giving yellow roses and Christmas card with a message from Baba our divine master.

We also noticed that some of them have already opened their cards and started reading the MESSAGE FROM BABA AND THE WISHES. We really felt the love and joy in their eyes.
We all felt uplifted and wished them MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR and also thanked them for giving us an opportunity to share the love with them.

SAI RAM – Dr. Ranje Sivakumar – Service Co-ordinator

Region 3 - January 2013 Update

Region 3 Christmas Event – Visit to the Newham University Hospital

Christmas is a special time of the year. Devotees in Region 3 were blessed to celebrate this special occasion spreading and sharing much joy and merry with people who were less fortunate. The Region 3 Christmas program was a heart-warming event, where we went out and found God smiling at us in the eyes of the happy people, whom we were gifted to spend an afternoon with.

As part of the Christmas celebrations in Region 3, we joined hands with a local Franciscan friary named Helping Hands in Plaistow in East London. Brother Julian from the Society of St. Francis, who heads Helping Hands, arranged for devotees from Region 3 to spend an afternoon at the Newham University Hospital in Plaistow, singing Christmas carols and talking with the patients who have had to stay at the hospital over Christmas.

Even the lead up to the hospital visit was a heartening experience. The plan for the visit was that the Region 3 devotees as part of the group would sing carols at the various wards, give each patient a Christmas card and spend a few minutes talking to them and help them feel a little bit of the merry that we were bubbling with. However, there were so many who wanted to come on this visit but could not make it, especially all the children in Region 3 SSE school. Nonetheless, they wanted to make a difference. For over two weeks prior to the visit, the children, teachers and helpers at the SSE school made as many wonderful cards they could for the patients we were visiting at the hospital. Each card fashioned with much care, shone as a sweet sign of love that the children wanted to share with the patients that they were meant for.

On Sunday the 23rd of December, the group of devotees gathered at the reception of the Newham University Hospital. The group consisted of many SSE children, Sai youth and elders eagerly waiting to take part in the activity. The group was lead by brother Julian, first to the wards for the elderly. There were 3 wards with many large dormitories and smaller individual rooms. The group split into two going into the various wards, dormitories and rooms with carol sheets and Christmas cards. Singing joyful carols, sometimes as per some of the patient’s request, the groups lifted the spirits of one and all. Some of the luckier patients were even gifted with hand made origami artworks made by one of our Region 3 youth.

It was truly a sight to behold. For as observers we were left baffled as to who brought joy to whom. Some of the patients were so happy to hear the merry notes that they sat up and spoke at length thanking the small band of singer at their bedside. Little did we realize that even the nurses and the helpers greatly appreciated our presence there. Each and every nurse, thanked brother Julian and the group for coming on this visit and surcharging the whole atmosphere in the wards with all the smiles and singing.

Encouraged by the way the whole visit was going we were requested if we can also visit the wards for young children and emergency patients. Glad to be spreading more of Swami’s love, the group went on to sing at more wards. At one dormitory, one of the patients broke down into tears saying how the carols reminded her of her childhood and thanked the group profusely for this selfless act. Nurses and helpers who couldn’t help but stop to wonder at the group, walked us from wards to ward, sometimes joining us in the carols.

The whole visit was a truly rewarding experience that Swami had so beautifully crafted for us. The visit came to an end with parting group photograph with brother Julian and many loving parting thanks and greeting. In the coming year we hope to have more of such fulfilling and divine Sai activities that devotees can participate and benefit from.

Karthik Prasanth – Region 3 Spiritual Co-ordinator

Manor Park Sai Centre - Christmas Day Seva

On this auspicious day – Manor Park Sai Centre serves the local residents of East London with Christmas lunch and entertainment. Jesus Christ taught us to serve all with compassion and love, he showed by example by washing the feet of his disciples and then sitting with them for a meal.

The venue on Christmas Day was the Froud Centre on Romford Road, whilst Manor Park has been doing this service for many years; it was originally started by the Aston-Mansfield charity, who is the management committee of the Froud Centre. Due to the lack of volunteers, they asked the Sai Centre if they would undertake this project on Christmas Day. Approximately 20 years later, the Sai Centre is still doing this service today.

Christmas Day is an enjoyable day and the centre requires many devotees to help out throughout the day. This is a time when you see devotees of different ages come together to serve. Swami puts every single devotee in a role(s) suitable for them.

The day is usually very busy and starts around 7.30am. Kitchen staff are ready preparing food for the 27 guests and a further 30 volunteers. A dedicated non Sai devotee has faithfully volunteered his services over the past 20 years to cook Christmas lunch and lead the kitchen. At 9am, the team responsible for decorating the tables arrives, at 10.30 the drivers arrive and are given the names and address of those who wish to be collected and are dispatched at 11.00. Lunch is ready by mid-day and a team of devotees are ready to serve the traditional Christmas lunch.

At 2pm, lunch is finished and it’s time to wash and tidy up. Whilst volunteers are in the kitchen washing up, our guests are being entertained with various games. At 3pm, we all sit down to watch the Queen Speech, during this time mince pies are being warmed up, along with tea and coffee preparation and served at 3.30. At 4pm, Reverend Brian Lewis from the St Michael’s Church (also based in the Froud Centre) addresses our guest.

This is followed by SSE Children singing Christmas Carols. At 4.30pm the volunteer drivers are ready to collect their respective guest(s) and safely take them home, a present is given to each guest as they are leave.

Finally, the day is over and all that remains is the final round of washing up and clearing up.

This fun loving day was enjoyed by the guests and volunteers. We thank Swami for giving us this opportunity to serve.

Anant Patel

Region 4 - 'Keep Faith and Carry On': Spiritual Journey to a Monastery

Last year, the Group 4(LOTUSS) Group from Leicester Central centre, Region 4 which consisted of children aged between 16 and 18 were fortunate to visit the local monastery. The peaceful surroundings, beautiful buildings and the spiritually uplifted individuals made the day remind us all how people are practising and following human values and love for God.

These are some of the experiences that were captured during the day from the Group 4 children.

‘On the 21st of October we set off on a spiritual journey to a monastery in Coalville, Leicestershire -the largest in all of Europe. Of the 30 residents of the monastery, we received a talk from the Abbott and the Father, who talked to us about their life at the monastery, the practices and the importance of having faith in God. One thing that particularly interested me was the similarity between the beliefs, values and practices of the monks and that of Baba's teachings. For example, their life was based around discipline, going to sleep early and waking up at 2:00am in the morning to feel the divine presence of the Lord, entailing prayers, hymns and reading of the gospels. This reminded me of Prashanthi, where we get up early for the Aumkar, Suprabhatham and Nagarsankirtan which starts at 5:20am, an auspicious time.

After prayers the monks took their breakfast. They led a vegetarian life, living self-sufficiently and without causing harm, again similar to Baba's teachings of non-violence. The monks would then read spiritual/religious literature during the day and would not speak to anyone unless it was absolutely necessary, but instead would use special hand gestures to communicate. This is because they believe that 'God can only be heard in the depths of silence'.

After having received these enlightening talks, we had a group discussion about the things we had learnt from the monks and how we could apply these for a positive change in our own lives.

Priya Joshi

"During my trip at the monastery, we had the privilege of meeting two monks. One monk was an 86 year old who had been at the monastery since the age of 21 and the other was the Abbot. I felt that we were very lucky to have an insight into their daily lives, and I was quite taken back by the fact that they were so self-sufficient. However what impacted me the most, was when the Abbot told us that a person had been made a saint on that very day, her name was Saint Katrin (or Saint Catherine). Her story about how she came into the Christian faith, her devotion and perseverance despite the fact that she had to survive years of torment and abuse from her community, allowed me to have an insight into how we can be more determined and be persevering in our own lives to achieve our goals and come closer to God."

Hiren Tailor

"The most useful thing that I picked up from the Monastery trip was that Swami's teachings not only apply to His devotees but link to other people who want to become one with God. One of the monks told us that he sees God in each and every one of us and that we are all equal, Divine beings. This also links to Swami’s teachings when he talks about who we really are. These monks have left their family and are detached from the latest technology in the world just to connect with God. It teaches us all a lesson that wealth is not all we need to succeed in life and be happy. Just by reciting God’s Name can make a difference."

Karishma Tanna

"From this Monastery trip, I have learnt many different things. One of the most important things that I learnt was perseverance. In the life story that the Father narrated about the saint, it showed me that although many people can put you down, you should never let them influence what you believe. If you believe strongly about something, you shouldn't give up just because other people think differently. This is one of the major lessons that I learnt from today's trip."

Trisha Patel

"The blissful, spiritual trip ended with a surprise which was only Swami’s Blessings which was shown through a message. As we started to leave the building and the thoughts of the talk based on ‘ Faith’ was in our minds, a lady who was also a visitor at the Monastery was wearing a t shirt with the words , 'Keep Faith and Carry On'. Then at the bottom of the T-shirt it had the words 'SAI2012'. It was truly Swami’s Way of showing He is always with us and that we must continue to have love and faith in the Lord!"

Region 4 - Christmas Party at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Leicester

Saturday 15 December 2012

For the last few years, we have invited a number of elderly guests, and guests with disabilities to a Christmas Party. The party consists of a full 4-course dinner plus entertainment plus games plus presents...plus lots & lots of PURE LOVE.

This year the party was held on Saturday 15 December at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Leicester. Invitations were sent out to just over 60 guests – to Moving On Group learners (adults with learning difficulty), to members of the community who we provide ‘meals on wheels’ at weekends, to elderly residents of homes where we perform monthly Bhajans, and to Pukar Group (ladies with disabilities). And on the day, we provided transport to all our guests – volunteers picked the guests from their home and brought them to the Neighbourhood Centre. We had arranged a special minibus with lift because some of our guests are wheelchair bound.

Preparations for the refreshments started early on Saturday morning - catering for both European & Asian tastes, as our guests were made up of members from the Asian community & from the European community, about half & half. So there was Soup & Bhajias, Vegetable pies & Vegetable Curries, bread rolls & Rotlis, semolina & cake!!! Wonderful selection of mouth-watering food to suit all tastes! And most had bit of everything!!

As the guests started to arrive, they were seated at their tables and lovingly served drinks – both hot and cold drinks were offered. And Christmas Carols were played in the background and a lovely decorated Christmas tree with flashing lights was placed right in front to welcome all our guests!

After all our guests were settled, it was time for some ‘live’ Christmas Carol singing – sung beautifully by SSE Children. All lovingly sung and everyone joined in the singing of the familiar Christmas Carols – Silent Night, Jingle Bells, Away in the Manger, O Holy Night, We wish you a Merry Christmas, and many more! And by the end of this everyone was truly in festive spirits!

The guests were then served with hot, freshly made food. The guests tucked into the hearty food, all lovingly served by the volunteers. It was good to see the smiles on the faces of our guests as they ate their food. The main course was followed by trifle & mince pies, with coffee! A Fabulous Christmas Dinner!

And then it was time to play some games - most wanted to sing. We all joined in the singing – again more Christmas carols sung with gusto!

There was still time for bingo – this is everyone’s favourite game, liked & enjoyed by everyone, and one that majority of our guests could join in. And volunteers were there to help those who needed assistance. Prizes were handed out – ‘BINGO’ shouted loudly by the winners!

Then after more coffee & mince pies, the guests were treated to Christmas Carol singing by all the volunteers! And at the end, the guests wanted all volunteers (30 in total!) to be introduced to them – they wanted to know everyone by name, in a small way to show their appreciation of the loving care showered upon them by all.

The time seemed to have flown by so quickly that it was time to say our goodbyes – it didn’t seem that long ago that we were welcoming our guests. It was also time to thank everyone for coming and making it a special event, full of joy & love. Many of the guests came forward and commented on their experience on the day - ‘you took good care of us’, ‘thank you for all the things you provided today, from bringing us, for the wonderful food, for the entertainment, for the Carol singing by the children, and most of all, for the love & care shown by each one of you’, ‘our grateful thanks to the volunteers’, ‘don’t forget us next year!’

Thank you Swami for such a wonderful day.

Sai Ram.

Region 4 - Food Parcels for Croatia

Each year, as part of our Ceiling on Desires initiative, devotees at our centre donate food items to make up food parcels for families living in refugee camps in Croatia. And everyone at the Centre is involved in this activity - some of the SSE Children gave up a ‘goody’ item from their lunch boxes e.g. packet of crisps, and donate the saving for the food parcel! Some of the adults reduced the amount of beverages consumed at their work place and used the savings towards the food parcel! Everyone found some unique way to help with this very worthwhile project.

The need for food parcels in Croatia arose from the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. The country has now been split up, leaving many still living in refugee camps. These camps were temporary accommodation, but like many other places in the world, they tend to end up as permanent/semi-permanent units.

We work with Refugee Relief Charity based in Wellingborough, and they manage transport & distribution of the food parcels in Croatia. A number of devotees from our Centre have made trips to get first-hand experience of distributing the food parcels, in refugee camps in Zagreb & in Vukovar, a city in eastern Croatia near the border with Serbia.

Around beginning of October, Refugee Relief charity provide a list of basic food items to make up the food parcels – sugar, flour, milk powder, oil, pasta, rice, cans of vegetable, fruit tins, cereal bars, biscuits, cereal boxes, etc – and devotees at our Centre then provide items from the list. The food items are collected over a number of weeks at our Centre, starting from Sunday 21 October to Sunday 11 November.

The food items are then sorted by devotees from our Centre (about 20 volunteers) and the food items packed into carton boxes, each box made up of all items from the list, in similar way to the ‘shoe boxes for Christmas’ principle. This year we made up 153 boxes, a tremendous achievement by devotees at our Centre.

The boxes were then transported to Wellingborough, from where they were loaded onto a large lorry bound for Croatia. The lorry for Croatia is filled with lots of other items – desks, chairs, bicycles, wheelchairs, household goods, etc – all for distributing to needy people in Croatia. This year, the lorry was loaded on Saturday 17 November. And each year, a number of volunteers (between 10 & 15) help with loading the lorry, and each year, the food parcels are distributed in Croatia from around 23 November – Swami’s Birthday!

Region 4 - Leicester Centre: Christmas Programme and SSE Exam Presentation

Sunday 16th December 2012

The magical festival of Christmas had quickly approached us. After a year of hard work it was time to present our Annual SSE Christmas Programme. The programme consisted of a heart-warming play of the nativity performed by the younger children, festive carols and songs, and prize presentations of the exams we took at the end of our previous class in June.

After bhajans, the nursery and group 1 children entertained us with a beautiful nativity; fellow class mate and I had the opportunity to narrate the story. We all eagerly joined in to sing Christmas carols and songs. The mood was high and everyone felt the festive spirit.

As the production drew to a close our previous class teachers began our prize presentation, the nerves began, we were all quiet. They started from the little ones and worked their way up and before I knew it, they announced my class! We were especially panicky as we took the national exam! We were all really pleased with our results; the hard work had paid off.

As the programme drew to the end, we sang Mangala Aarti, and we wished each other a very merry Christmas!

Alisha Gadhia
SSE student

Region 4 - New Years Eve Bhajans in Nottingham

The Lord looks for Sincerity, Simplicity and unwavering Joy in the Contemplation of his Name and Form

As in previous years, this event was organised to provide an opportunity for the devotees to usher in the New Year in a Spiritual manner in the Company of like minded devotees. This year the event was supported by devotees from Leicester, Derby and Nottingham. Approximately 60 devotees sang with great Passion, Love and Joy to our beloved Swami in the auspicious setting of the Mandir hall, fom 8pm to midnight with a 50 minute break for Prashad.

The program started with a 10 minute Darshan video of Swami, which brought back a lot of happy memories for the devotee’s of their many Darshans in Prashanti over the years. This was followed by chanting/singing of Ganesh Prayer, Rudram and devotional songs. Just before the break at 9:30pm, a 5 minute unique video of Swami having a meal was shown.

After the break, devotees enjoyed watching a video of Swami singing Bhajans for 10 minutes. Devotional singing went on till mid-night, concluding with a medley of bhajans and Aarti.
It was a great way of ushering in the New Year, resulting in a lot of Love and joy in devotee’s hearts.

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