January 2014 Edition

Quote

Your mission has begun. Those are my words to you, my devotees. Each of you has a unique and valuable part to play in this lifetime. Only those whom I have called can serve Me. My mission has now reached that point of time when each of you now has work to do. This planet has a purpose in which it it held. That purpose is now unfolding before our eyes. I call upon you to radiate the Bhakti (devotion) within you so that its unseen power will envelop all who come into your orbit. To successfully perform your part, always remain centred on Me. Allow yourself to impart that purity of heart within you towards all human beings and all living things and do not reach for the fruits of your work. This part of My Mission is performed in absolute silence. You are My instruments from whom My love will pour. Be always aware that the moment you let your ego descend upon you, My work ceases. When you have overcome your negative unmindfulness, you will again become My Source. The multiplication of My Love will be felt throughout the world. I have perpared you for this work over many incarnations. I have drawn you to Me. I have made great steps in My Mission over these past incarnations. My work is ceaseless and so your work, too, is without end. Know that I am within and without you. There is no difference. Rid yourselves of the petty matters forevermore. You are now in Me and I am now in Thee. There is no difference. My Darshan (spiritual blessings) will pour forth from Me to and through you.You may be unaware of this constant action. Be ever pure of heart and soul and, mankind in your lifetime will benefit from your unique qualities. Others, too, will join Me in this Mission when I draw them to Me. The time is approaching when all humanity will live in harmony.That time will be here sooner than one expects. Before it arrives, be prepared for whatever is needed to reveal to every living thing the true purpose of existence. It is not what anyone alive can imagine. It is beyond all comprehension. I can say that its beauty is magnificent beyond all dreams. And as each of you perform your silent work, I embrace you to My Heart and henceforth your souls shall be lifted up and your eyes will reveal My Presence within. This I say to all My Devotees from the Lord's Mountain Top where all the Universes become one. Be about My work, My beloved bhaktas. Your breath will carry the scent of the blossoms of Heaven. Your example will be that of Angels. Your joy will be My Joy.

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference 2014

Articles

Education Wing - National Christmas Celebration 2013: A Very Enjoyable Christmas Celebration!

Education Wing - National Christmas Celebration 2013: Festival of Love and Cheer

National Christmas Celebrations 2013

National Report 2013

Region 1 - 88th Birthday of our Lord Sathya Sai

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centres Royal Marsden Hospital Christmas Present Collection

Region 1 - Bromley Centre Celebrates Christmas

Region 1 - Carol Singing by Brixton Sai Centre

Region 1 - New Years Eve with Brixton Sai Centre

Region 1 - Special Events at Merton Sai Centre

Region 1 - Wimbledon Sai Centre New Years Bhajan 2014

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme: Christmas Hampers for the Homeless

Region 2 - Christmas Celebrations at Slough Sai Centre

Region 2 - Harrow West Celebrates Christmas

Region 2 - New Year Eve Bhajans

Region 3 - Young Adults Programme: Messenger "Service to Man is Service to God"

Region 4 - Christmas Parcels by Derby Sai Group

Region 4 - Christmas Party at Queniborough Village Hall

Region 4 - Narborough Sai Centre Celebrate New Years Eve

Region 4 - Nottingham New Years Eve Bhajans

Region 4 - Peace Walk in Coventry

Region 4 - Serving Closer to Home

Region 5 - Sri Sathya Sai Laksharchana, Bolton

Region 6 - "Happiness": Reflection after Decembers i2I Session

Youth Wing - Sai Smaran Bhajans

Editorial

Dear Love & Light Readers,
Loving Sai Ram

Greetings for 2014!

We wish you a very happy, healthy, joyful and peaceful New Year.

2013 was a memorable year that brought devotees together inspired by the bond of Brotherhood that binds us through recognition of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the hearts of all of us.

Sai Smaran, our collective offering of prayers, National Sathya Sai Human Values Day, National Easwaramma Day, Rudra Ekadashini Homam, National Sathya Sai Retreat, National Birthday Celebrations and National Christmas Celebrations gave us a glimpse of the vastness of His Grace and Love which brought us closer together. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to His Glory, of reminiscing His Life and of contemplating upon Him. The crown jewel of our events being the National Pilgrimage to the abode of highest Peace, not to forget the National Youth Conference that brought youth together with a sense of and readiness to carry out His Work.

We were also blessed by the visits of special guests: Dr Narendranath Reddy, Mr V Srinivasan, Mr Gary Belz, Dr T Ravikumar, Mr Rathnakar and Mrs Janet Bicker who shared many rare experiences in the Divine Presence.

Our centres and groups throughout the UK were engaged in spiritual (devotional singing, celebration of festivals, interfaith activities, study circles), service (meals on wheels, homeless shelters, food offering to Food Banks, food parcels, hampers, blood donation, Health Awareness Clinics etc) and educational (SSE) activities; these would not have been possible without the selfless dedication and sacrifice of our devotees who were all inspired by our Lord.

The theme for 2014 is ‘One with Sai’.

We started the year with Sai Smaran, the collective singing of God’s Glory and offering of our prayers on the 11th January in Watford when around 300 devotees had gathered. The vibrations created brought bliss all around.

We have the National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference in Hatfield on 25th January for Office Bearers (current, outgoing and new) and Active Workers. The Theme of the conference is 'One with Sai: His Words and His Work'. Please follow the link to register:

http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/

14th January is an important date in the Organisation calendar when Office Bearers who have completed their term of office change. We thank you for completing your period in office and pray that you will continue to work for the Sai Mission. We also welcome new members who have taken up positions in centres and wings.

It also gives me great pleasure to announce the members of the UK Central Council for 2014:

National Chair - Dr Kiran Patel
National Vice Chair - Dr Veeru Mudigonda
National Secretary - Mrs Gayatree Bikoo
National Spiritual Coordinator - Dr Rakendu Suren
National Service Coordinator - Mr Mukund Patel
National SSE Coordinator - Mrs Vidyulatha Narayan
National Youth Coordinator - Mr Shyam Jamnadas
Region 1 Chair - Mr Yoges Yogendran
Region 2 Chair - Mr Senthil Kumarathevan
Region 3 Chair - Mr Sam Sambanthan
Region 4 Chair - Mr Narendra Mistry
Region 5 Chair - Mr Kailash Venkat
Region 6 Chair - Dr Mahesh Narayan
Region 7 Chair - Dr Kumi Pillay
Region 8 Chair - To be confirmed

We thank our outgoing Council members for their dedication and support:

Mr Jamie Raju (National Vice Chair), Mr Ketan Gokani (Region 4 Chair), Mrs Nadia Eley (Region 6 Chair), Dr Ram Bhaskar (Region 8 Chair).

We pray to Baba for continued Guidance and Blessings to be ‘One with Him’ in 2014 and beyond.

Dr Kiran Patel,
Chairman, UK Central Council

Dear Love & Light subscribers,

Due to unforeseen technical problems, we could not distribute the December 2013 Edition of Love and Light to all the subscribers. We sincerely regret this and hope that you have accessed it instead on our national website. We have since made the necessary improvements and sincerely pray to our beloved Bhagawan to bless us in our humble efforts to serve our fellow brothers and sisters.

Sairam,
Publications Team

Education Wing - National Christmas Celebration 2013: A Very Enjoyable Christmas Celebration!

The National Christmas Celebrations were held at Cheltenham Ladies College. We left early in the morning by coach from outside our Sai Centre in Leicester. I felt very excited and happy! We arrived at the college around 9:00a.m.

On arrival we were offered drinks and biscuits. My mum showed me round the big hall and took me to a changing room to dress up as an angel. Once we got changed we were taken to the side of the main stage where we were given Christingles to hold in our hands in readiness for the Christmas procession. For the procession we walked down the middle isle of the big hall holding our Christingles, I felt a little nervous! After the procession we went back to the side of the stage where we were called out in groups to collect a piece of cloth to place on the manger which was on the stage. Once we had placed our cloth on the manger we sat in the back and joined the carol singing which I enjoyed. My favourite carol was ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High.’

We had a delicious Christmas lunch, after which a Gospel choir from Leicester sang carols. Then the Blues singer Dana Gillespie gave a short talk and sang some of her songs. Next we watched the children acting the Nativity. Then came what we had all been waiting for-Santa! He gave us all presents. This was my favourite part, it was very exciting! The programme then came to an end and we took the coach back to Leicester. It was a long day but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Achinthya Shah
Age 9
SSE Student
Region 4

Education Wing - National Christmas Celebration 2013: Festival of Love and Cheer

On December 15th I went to the prestigious Cheltenham Ladies College for the National Christmas Celebrations. The programme was a filled with festive cheer and love, as people arrived from all parts of the country to celebrate this auspicious event. I learned the significance of Christmas, how Christians celebrate the day, as well as joined in the carol singing.

The Nativity story performed by some of the SSE children was a real treat! The story was narrated so beautifully, retelling the birth of Christ as well as bringing out the teachings from the Christian faith.

I too got to take part in the procession at the beginning of the programme. As part of the procession, we placed a Christingle each by the photos of Swami and Jesus Christ. We also got to put strips of cloth on Baby Jesus’ manger whilst accompanying some of the younger children onto the stage. I liked this as it's all significant to Christmas. The significance of Christingles is that the world is represented by the orange, the light is represented by the candle on the orange, the four seasons by 4 cocktail sticks inserted in the orange, Jesus' blood is the red ribbon tied around the orange and the blessings we receive are the sweets that the cocktail sticks hold. It looked really pretty on the stage.

I personally liked the Vicar’s sermon where in she said that the strips of cloth being placed on Baby Jesus's manger reminded her of how the different colours of cloth represent the different faiths, weaved together to make a beautiful tapestry. She also mentioned the similarities of Sai Baba and Jesus's teachings. She said that even as young as 12 both Jesus and Sai Baba were spreading and teaching values such as truth, love and compassion. Baba had written the play ‘Cheppinattlu Chesthara’ and Jesus who was found preaching to the elders in a Synagogue.

The day concluded with Father Christmas handing out presents to all children, which brought out the biggest smiles! I am really looking forward to our Xmas celebrations in 2014!

Dhanisha Patel
SSE Student
Age 14
Region 7

National Christmas Celebrations 2013

With bated breath, I stepped foot into the most majestic venue of the Ladies Cheltenham College for attending my first National Christmas celebration....and it certainly did take my breath away!

The venue in itself created such a heaven- like atmosphere. The air was filled with absolute bliss and serenity, and this experience was amplified as the programme commenced with sublime invocation hymns sung by the ‘Anahata’ group, inviting the Higher deities to bless us with their omnipresence! In my childhood years, both participating in and watching Christmas services, I have never witnessed such “Unity in Diversity”. What followed for the next hour was a most charismatic traditional Christmas Service, Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols, that was conducted by an equally cheerful and wise Minister, Reverend Katie McClure. As the first carol ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ commensed, the Reverend led a procession of regally dressed young children, holding the beautiful Christingles in their hands, into the Hall. It was so grand that one could not but help bring to memory the grand welcomes given to our beloved Bhagawan in Prasanthi Nilayam. A string of beautiful carols were then rendered by an energetic choir comprising of about 50 devotees from all over UK; these were interspersed with aptly chosen Readings from the Holy Bible that were delivered, again, by representatives from all the Regions in UK with such power and passion that I felt the college was vibrating in tune to the beat! It was an absolutely mesmerising offering. It brought the true magic of Christmas alive taking the occasion to “another level”.

The Reverend gave a very thoughtful Christmas Sermon towards the end of this Service. She was evidently a great scholar, but what was most admirable was her simplicity and love. It was also obvious that she had made sincere efforts to study Bhagawan’s Messages on unity, love and service, for she drew many parallels between the lives of Jesus Christ and Bhagawan Baba.

The gear changed yet again when we were treated to a foot tapping performance by the Emmanu'-EL Apostolic Gospel Academy Children’s Choir from Leicester. The title of their performance, ‘Joy to the World’, was most definitely emulated by these soul-singing children. The bliss was now pervading the atmosphere as an electric buzz...with every person present smiling gleefully and this was confirmed by an astounded Deputy Mayor of Cheltenham, Councillor Simon Wheeler, who addressed the assembly with high praise for the event and the Sathya Sai Message of Interfaith Harmony.

That warm, glowing feeling was heightened with the next performance by the Quire Voice Ensemble from Windsor. With such melodious and harmonious voices, singing so gracefully, the tranquillity they created set the scene perfectly for Jesus Christ’s birth! I felt that their beautiful renditions illuminated the magnificent manger backdrop and the scene was re-created. The morning festivities and teachings had certainly drummed up an appetite for a scrumptious Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, and you could really taste the love in the mince pies!

After re-fueling we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed a priceless presentation of the Nativity play entitled ‘One with God’ by the Sai Spiritual Education Children from Merton, London. The audience could not stop applauding! The play was full of fun and frolics, with baby sheep calling out for BA-BA and yet the morals behind the story, namely the importance of the five human values, were portrayed eloquently. There were some very proud parents and teachers in the audience who had clearly put in a vast amount of hard work and sacrificed time and energy in the rehearsals. It was a joy to witness this!

There was even more icing on the cake with an exhilarating performance by none other than our very own, and internationally famous star, Dana Gillespie who gave us a feel for different styles of music from fusion to blues. I was transported to another world as she shared with us, through song, “His message of Love”. By this stage, my heart was already skipping a beat or two, being filled to its brim with such “explosions of love” …..BUT the emotions were further stirred as our little SSE children presented the Food items brought in by the devotees on the day, as a special Christmas Service to Food Banks. They presented these to representatives of the Trussell Trust Food Banks and those from the Cheltenham Communities Project, who admitted to being speechless by the love and discipline of the SSE children. The children were then given presents by you know who…….Santa Claus!! To see the unbridled and unsullied glee, enthusiasm, simple but pure joy on the faces of the little ones was a heart-warming sight indeed! Their guilelessness brought out the innocent child lurking in each one of us around! Truly, the Christmas spirit of loving and sharing appeared to have dissolved all the barriers of age, class, colour, creed or religion!

This memorable event made me dwell upon how lucky we are and how we should grab every opportunity we have to “Love all and Serve all” in whatever small way we can…a most profound and apt way to conclude an amazing day which was totally enshrined in the teachings of Jesus Christ and our Most Beloved Swami.

ALLEILLUIAH & AMEN!

Dr. Anila Modi,
London

National Report 2013

January

The new year started with singing, contemplating and remembering the divine name when we congregated in Watford to join in Sai Smaran (12th January). Around 350 devotees were present throughout the day to express their gratitude to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The air was filled with divine vibrations with youth and the service volunteers serving devotees throughout. There was a wonderful feeling of brotherhood and unity all around.

Regionally, Region 1 celebrated New Years Day at the Sai Mandir with traditional New Years Eve Bhajans commencing at 11pm and the New Year beginning with Swami’s aarti. Later that day the Sai Mandir celebrated its 32nd Anniversary with vedic chanting and a beautiful Ghanapathy Homam. The ceremony then continued with Laksharchana – the recitation of the 1008 names of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. In Region 3, Hatfield Sai Centre celebrated its 34th Anniversary. The theme of the programme was to promote a renewed focus on multi-faith activities in our local community and to invite devotees to reflect upon the benefits of association with the world faiths.

February

February turned out to be another eventful month for the Organisation with hundreds of devotees and esteemed guests attending the National Sathya Sai Orientation conference and the National Youth conference. The focus of the National Orientation conference came under the theme ‘Mission of Sathya Sai – How to Serve Ably as His Instruments’. We were blessed to have a video call with Dr Narendranath Reddy, Chairman of Prasanthi Council.

National Chair Dr Kiran Patel speaking at the National Orientation Conference in Hatfield.

It was also the month that held the National Youth Conference (22-24th February) which brought over 250 youth together in unity from around the country. The theme of the conference was ‘How we can make our Lives His Message’. Esteemed guest Dr Sunder Iyer from USA, a former alumnus and lecturer of the Sri Sathya Sai University, Prasanthi Nilayam, was the special guest who enthused the youth with his inspiring thoughts and experiences. The love, energy and the positivity throughout the weekend was beyond description.

The stage and Dr Sunder Iyer speaking at the National Youth Conference in Watford.

Bhajans and workshop at the National Youth Conference, Watford.

March

In the month of March, the world celebrated Easter, which has always been a time for reflection, a time to reminisce Jesus sacrificing his life for mankind and its resurrection, out of his infinite love and compassion. Easter was celebrated in various ways within different regions. Brixton Centre, Region 1, for the third year in a row, held an Easter Egg collection for the children of the Royal Marsden Hospital, Surrey Branch. The Royal Marsden specialises in cancer treatment, meaning all would-be recipients unfortunately suffer from this terrible disease. The staff were surprised and pleased to see the gifts kindly donated by the members of the centre. Coventry Sai Centre held an Easter Sathsang and the SSE children of Region 7, Swindon, decided to host a tea party for the elderly in their community. The Easter Tea Party is the third party the centre have hosted and each time there has been a growing interest from the local community in Wootton Bassett.

Regional Maha Shivratri celebrations took place in Region 1, 2, 4 and 6 and Regional Orientation Days took place in Regions 1, 2, 3 and 4 this month. Other service activates that took place were; Sierra Leone medical camp preparations where volunteers from Tooting came together to pack boxes and prepare gifts for the underprivileged people, and 3 centres from Region 1 turning up on the 3rd Sunday of each month at Spires in South London in order to cook a curry for those people that do not get a hot meal every day.

April

We reflect on the month of April which is commonly associated with spring in the northern hemisphere; the month very aptly started with the celebrations of Sri Rama Navami denoting the birth of Lord Rama. This was celebrated with great spiritual fervour in many Sai Centres around the UK.

The month was also very special to us, His devotees, around the globe who were immersed in prayers and gratitude for the countless benedictions that we continuously receive from our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who transcended to the formless on the 24th April 2011.

As remembrance of His Divine Life and Teachings, we celebrated the Sathya Sai National Human Values Day on the 27th April which drew hundreds to Leicester. The event was very lovingly put together and inspired by our Lord, which reiterated His Message on Human Values.

National Human Values Day, Leicester

Each of the five human values was highlighted by guests from various faiths and religions.

Musical performance by a team of highly accomplished and well known musicians namely- Roopa Panesar (Sitar), Upneet Dhadyalla (Tabla), Rishi Chowdhary (Tabla), Kaviraj Dhadyalla (Santoor, Vocal) and Poonam Panesar (Vocal) at the National Human Values Day, Leicester

Maha Samadhi days were also held Region 1 and Region 5 this month. Narborough Sai Centre of Region 4 celebrated its 25th anniversary and Brixton Sai Centre of Region 1 celebrated Vaisakhi, Sri Rama Navami and Hanumaan Jayanti along with celebrations of Yugaadi and the Tamil New Year in the month.

We were also blessed with Bhagawan’s Grace when Dr T Ravikumar, from Brindavan Ashram in India, travelled around the UK to share the Love of Bhagawan with fellow devotees.

May

The month of May is when Easwaramma day is celebrated throughout the country which brought devotees together in reverence to remember the blessed mother Easwaramma. We were blessed to have the company of Dr T Ravi Kumar (Associate Professor, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and Warden, Brindavan, Whitefield) at the National event who inspired everyone with his experiences with our Lord. SSE children from all parts of UK also participated in the programme who felt a sense of oneness and were inspired to look forward to the next.

Stage and National Easwaramma Celebrations, Hatfield

Dr T Ravi Kumar, Associate Professor and Warden, Brindavan Campus of SSSIHL, speaking at the National Easwaramma Celebrations.

SSE children from all over the country performing at the National Easwaramma Celebrations. Hatfield.

We also had the 4th National Sai Smaran Bhajans and the 2nd Pilgrimage meeting on the 18th May, where bhajan singers from around the country participated which brought joy to everyone. We were fortunate on that day to hear brother Nimish Pandya, Vice-President of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, India who spoke on Sai Mission and our duties in the Organisation.

The month also witnessed celebrations of Buddha Purnima, commemorating the birth of Gautama Buddha. Several Centres around the UK celebrated this event. Other activities that took place include, Ladies Day, Youth Sathsang, Age link party and Narayana Seva.

June

June was a busy month with each region holding a variety of activities. Region 1 had service at its core this month with Brixton Centre holding three large service events, known locally as “Fundays”. These are usually held at care homes or at sheltered accommodation schemes and involve the members interacting with the residents and entertaining them with fun and games for a whole afternoon. Tooting Sai Centre had the pleasure of hosting an Age Link Party for the elderly people in the local area. This is an annual event at the Tooting Sai Centre and on this occasion there were 34 guests in total. The Youth in the region lead the Spires Seva this month which s a charitable organisation based in the South London area and is a community based project which reaches out to the homeless and the needy. The youth also held their monthly satsang (YAP) and the Region held their annual Sports and Family Values Day.

Region 2 held a Awareness Workshop on Parents in Sai Spiritual Education in London West, Region 3 held a SSE Basic and Intermediate Teacher Training in Milton Keynes. Region 3’s ‘GIVING WITH LOVE’ Ladies Service Project successfully meeting its first deadline to supply the Kazakhstan Medical camp with 130 gift bags for distribution to children and local volunteers at the forthcoming medical camp in August.

Region 4 held a Global Service Day inside the purpose built Senior People's Home called Gulab Ashram where they shared Swami's Love and Light with the guests by having activities that we our guests really enjoy, such as bingo, pass the parcel, SSE children’s musical performances and antaksiri. The Youth of Region 6 met at their regular i2I workshop where the topics of Dharma, Karma and Karma Phala were explored.

Region 7 saw a hive of activity from the SSE students. The SSE students of Bristol Centre had a special visit from the Lord Mayor. He listened to the bhajans ‘Hu Allah’ and ‘Let the love we are sharing’ along with morning prayers, chanted beautifully by the children. There was a presentation of SSE classes, and little ‘speeches’ by children on what SSE meant to them and how it has benefitted them in their day- to- day lives. The Swindon SSE children hosted a tea party for the elderly in the community. This service activity has been on-going by the children in the last year and everybody looks forward to it! This one however, felt very special for our elderly friends were very moved by the pouring of love that was showered to them.

July

July was yet another memorable and spiritually uplifting month with celebrations of Guru Poornima around the country signifying our homage and gratitude to the Divine Teachers who have been ceaselessly guiding us on the path of Truth and Global Service Day, a reminder of our responsibilities to our fellow beings, by serving them in the spirit of selfless dedication to the Divine being that is present in all beings.

As part of the Guru Poornima Celebrations, a Rudra Ekaadashini Homam was conducted at the Balaji Temple in Birmingham on 21st July which was imbued throughout by the Divine presence of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This annual event draws devotees in hundreds from around the country bringing them joy and bliss.

The Homam also provided the perfect setting for the final Sadhana meeting of our pilgrims who were embarking on the UK National Pilgrimage (28th July – 3rd August) to Prasanthi Nilayam, the abode of our Lord. This was an ideal opportunity for everyone to pay their gratitude for the benevolence that Baba has showered on humanity which He continues to do so. Around 60 devotees which included elders, youth and children visited Prashanthi Nilayam for the UK Pilgrimage christened ‘Sai Anandam – In Harmony with Sai’. The Pilgrimage comprised a sadhana camp where inspiring talks and experiences were shared by eminent speakers of Prasanthi Nilayam, a visit to Brindavan (Baba’s abode in Whitefield near Bangalore), a musical offering by reputed artists of UK in the Sai Kulwant Hall and visit to significant places of interest. All pilgrims returned home energised and eager to play their role in the Divine Mission.

Sayeeswara Lingam and Swami’s chair at Rudra Ekadhashaini Homam, Sri Balaji Temple, Birmingham

Rudra Homam, Sri Balaji Temple, Birmingham

The Region 5 & 8 summer retreat took place in the most picturesque setting of Langdale in Ambleside, Lake district. Devotees from both regions joined together to glorify the Lord. It was energising for all participants not only to breathe the fresh air but also experience the ‘Breath of Sai’. They dwelled on topics such as ‘What is breath of Sai’? How is it relevant to us and our lives? They enhanced their understanding of Swami’s words “Truth is My Breath. Truth is My nature, My Mission, My Message.”

Two Free Health Awareness Days were conducted by the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (SSSSO); Region 6, Eastleigh Mela. The event was coordinated by the Asian Welfare and Cultural Association, with the support of Hampshire County Council and other local agencies. Region 3, Newham Mela which was organised in partnership with the London Borough of Newham- Public Health. In addition the members of Tooting Sai Centre and their friends came together in July to undertake the service of packing medicines and boxes for the Healthcare Camp in Yonibana, Sierra Leone.

August

This year the National Sai Retreat entitled ‘Divine Bliss: Echoes of Eternal Harmony’ returned to the scenic coastal town of Llandudno, located in North Wales. This retreat, spread out over three days, was attended by about 350 devotees from all around the UK. We were very fortunate to have with us, Sri R.J. Rathnakar, a member of the Sathya Sai Central Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam, and a nephew of our beloved Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Sri Arun Panda and Sri Ajit Popat. The retreat was deemed a ‘Real Treat’! It was spiritually recharging with the wonderful satsang of fellow devotees, esteemed guest speakers, delightful concerts and interactive and reflective workshops. Sri R.J. Rathnakar also gave talks in London and Leicester during his stay spreading Swami’s message with humility and love.

Sri R.J Rathnakar with the SSE children at the National Sai Retreat, Llandudno

Workshop, reception area (above), children farm visit and workshop below at the National Sai Retreat, Llandudno.

The UK also welcomed another inspiring guest and ardent devotee of Swami in August. Mr T. V. Hariharan, an alumnus from the Sri Sathya Sai University who is a bhajan singer and a Bhajan composer responsible for composing over 300 bhajans. A youth sathsang was held and within the short space of three hours, they were taken through a journey of how and why bhajans should be sung. They were privileged to learn two new bhajans from Brother T. V. Hariharan.

After an absence of nearly five years, the Derby Civil Aid, a national charity who had previously been providing First Aid training , held a First Aid workshop on Saturday 17th August 2013 at Oxhey Wood Primary school in Region 2. The main objectives of the workshop were to provide a basic introduction to First Aid after a practical assessment, a nationally recognised certificates were awarded.

Region 4 returned to the Scaly Forest where they were assigned the task of cleaning up a secluded area of the forest. This trip was certainly very enjoyable, educational and hopefully contributed in some small way to butterfly conservation.

The Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Brixton in Region 1 celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr; they were joined by around half-a-dozen of our Muslim brothers and sisters from the Hyderi Islamic School, a local Madrassah (Islamic school), who were present throughout all the proceedings. Truly living the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.

Devotees also enjoyed the annual picnic at Glastonbury Tor in Region 7 and the Rugby Sai Centre in Region 4 celebrated their 30 year anniversary.

September

The Sai Smaran Bhajans in UK are being conducted at regular intervals since April 2012 as a national offering of love and gratitude to our beloved Bhagawan. With the Grace of our Lord, the sixth in the series were held at Sandbach on the 21st of September, and like the previous ones, this event too was a thrilling session of Sankeerthan indeed!

On the 29th September, we were honoured to have been invited to a special Ardas and Kirtan session (prayer and hymn-singing) at the Namdhari Sikh Gurudwara in Birmingham. This prayer session was a part of the 109th annual session of Jap Prayog (Meditation on the Name of God), a 40 day period of prayer and meditation which Naamdhari Sikh communities all over the world observe every year with great vigour and dedication.

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

Lewisham and Bromley Sai Centres in Region 1 hosted the annual Age Link party which was enjoyed by all. Region 7 SSE students visited St Bartholomew’s church and the ladies of Brixton Sai Centre in Region 1 visited the Buddhapadipa temple.

Region 6 held its annual Family Values Day in the beautiful surrounds of Blunden Hall in Farnborough.

October

As part of the global initiative, Serve the Planet to celebrate Avatar Declaration Day, devotees all across the United Kingdom joined hands in the bond of His Love and participated enthusiastically in 3 main activities:

1. Providing food items to local food banks in the week leading up to October 20th
2. Narayana Seva – serving food on October 20th to the homeless and those in need
3. Nama Seva – Chanting the divine name of the Lord 100, 000 times and praying for those in need during a special Laksharchana programme

With the Divine Blessings of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the 15th International Service Camp in Russian speaking countries was conducted in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Karaganda Region in the town of Saran and nearby villages from August 1 to 10, 2013. This was a united effort of 254 volunteers from over 11 countries worked together to serve the people of Kazakhstan.

Region 2 continued the shoe box gift project and donated 162 boxes to Refugee Relief; gathering together to fill and wrap the gift boxes the hall was filled with love and laughter. Also, nearly 100 SSE Children, Parents, Teachers and centre members from region 2 gathered at the Hare Krishna Temple (HKT) for the third year running to carry out farming duty as their personal contribution to the National Seva day and continuing the SSE focus on ‘SELFLESS SERVICE’.

Region 1, Merton Sai Centre celebrated the Navarathri festival with uplifting bhajans to our Divine Mother Sai every evening from 7pm to 8 pm. This included Omkar, 108 names of our beloved Swami, followed by bhajans and Arathi.

Tooting Sai Centre, Region 1 also hosted a bhajan workshop entitled ‘Inspiring for the Aspiring’, this was a thoroughly enriching day that served both as an opportunity to sing Bhagawan’s name, but also instruct all to take steps to reach a higher level of singing to offer only the best in His divine presence.

November

November is probably one of the most important month in the lives of devotees when we take time in prayers, in contemplation and reflecting upon the rare benevolence showered upon us, that of having been blessed with a birth when our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, out of His infinite compassion for humanity walked the earth.

We started the month with Akhand Bhajans (non-stop devotional singing) on the 9th and 10th November. The glory of our Lord was sung across UK and the world over. We were also blessed to listen to Mr V Srinivasan, All India President of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (India) and member of the Central Trust (Prasanthi Nilayam). It was the privilege of many Sai devotees in United Kingdom to have the exalted company of Mr V Srinivasan in London during the Global Akhanda Bhajans this year.

Our sisters from many centres and regions in the UK participated in ‘Ladies Day’ on the 19th November.

November culminated with the 88th Birthday Celebrations of Bhagawan. Whilst several centres and regions celebrated this momentous occasion, a special national celebration was also planned at the Leatherhead Theatre, London on the theme, ‘Sai Premabandhan - The Unifying Bond of Divine Love’. The event brought together around 550 devotees. We were fortunate to have Mrs Janet Bock-Bicker as one of our special guest who thrilled the audience with rare presentation of the recording of Bhagawan’s early life. She later travelled few cities of UK to share Swami’s Love and the treasure of rare photographs she had in her possession that were taken with her husband Richard Bock.

SSE children performing inauguration dance at the National Birthday Celebrations, Leatherhead

Guest speaker Janet Bock-Bicker at National Birthday Celebrations, Leatherhead.

Youth performance at National Birthday Celebrations, Leatherhead

Musical Concert by Mr Sikkil Gurucharan and accompanying musicians at the National Birthday Celebrations

The zenith of the musical performance was provided by our second guest, Mr Sikkil Gurucharan who thrilled the audience with his vocal rendition as He had done previously in the Divine presence. A wonderful and memorable finish to the National Birthday Celebrations!

December

December was also a month of festivity. We returned to the Cheltenham Ladies College for our National Christmas Celebrations which once again provided a setting for devotees and other special guests to come together to share Love in the true spirit of Christmas.

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 service was of the format “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols”, where alternate readings from the Holy Bible and carols are sung. This was concluded by Reverend Katie McClure, who gave the final reading.

The Christmas spirit was imbibed through the arts: SSE children from around the country began our celebrations with a procession and accompanied the nine readings with tableaux of the nativity. Region 1 SSE children preformed a beautiful interpretation of the nativity which included bouncing bunnies and dancing angels! To our delight the day was topped with melodies singing from the Leicester Gospel choir, the Quire Voice Ensemble and the dulcet tones of the magnificent Dana Gillespie.

Reverend Katie McClure leading the children in the procession at the National Christmas Celebrations in Cheltenham.

Stage at the National Christmas Celebrations in Cheltenham.

Musical performance by Dana Gillespie at the National Christmas Celebrations

The day was also attended by representatives from the Trussell Trust and local food banks who were presented with food donated by all the devotees.

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 - Sai Smaran Bhajans

"Sing aloud the glory of God and charge the atmosphere with divine adoration . . . This is why I insist on group singing of the names of the Lord". This is the Divine Directive of our beloved Bhagawan Baba.

And so, to welcome the New Year and charge ourselves with divine vibrations for the year ahead, the first National Event in 2014 began with Sai Smaran Bhajans: The 6th such in the series to date. One cannot help but offer deep gratitude to our dear Swami for the way in which this event has taken shape and form over the past year and a half, from its early inception, into what is now a widely anticipated and nationally well-received event.

On a wintry but crisp morning of the 11th of January 2014, devotees and bhajan singers and musicians from various parts of UK assembled by 10am at the Oxhey School in Watford, London. The day commenced with prayers and a welcome address by Dr.Kiran Patel, our respectable National Chairperson. Kiran Uncle, during his talk, emphasized the importance which Bhagawan placed on ‘Namasmarana’ (chanting of the Divine Name) and Sankeerthana (singing together to God) , and how fortunate we are to be gathered together under one roof for engaging in this holy activity. He also touched upon the benefits of ‘Sankeerthana’ to our body, mind and spirit as individuals members of a large Sai family. These opportunities and benefits one should not take lightly, he reminded us all aptly.

Immediately afterwards, we were all treated to an absorbing session of ‘divine music’: An instrumental offering of South Indian Classical Carnatic Music. Our young but highly acclaimed musicians, brother Yadesan on the flute and brother Sai Ganesh on the mrudangam, enthralled the minds and captivated the hearts of the gathered devotees with two main pieces: ‘Sri Pathe’ in Raga Nagaswaravali and ‘Baro Krishnayya’ in Ragamalika. Fond memories of the ‘good old days’ of Prasanthi Nilayam, when our beloved Bhagawan would ‘glide towards us’ during Darshan times whilst devotional instrumental music played in the background, flooded the minds of many who were assembled in the hall. Such sublime ambience was generated by the duo during their 15 minute rendition, preparing us amply to sing from our hearts, as Bhagawan encourages us to do whenever we pray.

The ‘bhajan fest’ that followed for the next 5 hours was so thrilling and energetic! One devotee said that after sitting down at 10:30am, he had not left his seat until 2:45pm! And there were many like this in the hall. This was a testimony to the Bhakti (devotion) and Prema (Love) that the singers and musicians had expressed in their various bhajan offerings to our dear Swami. Everyone felt grateful to our Bhagawan for this experience. The coming together of many brothers and sisters with one focus and one goal, which is to offer our best to Swami in humility and gratitude, is what has attracted His Grace on us, allowed us to experience such unsullied joy, and contributed to such a successful event.

The Bhajans concluded with Arathi and Vibhuti prayer. Our National Spiritual Coordinator, Dr Veeru Mudigonda, summarized the blissful ambience prevailing in the hall and the feelings of joy in the hearts of everyone when he said in his short speech, that the Bhajans have made us feel ‘One with Sai’. He requested everyone to carefully preserve this experience within us and take it back to our homes, communities, workplaces and Sai Centres so that the happiness could be spread around. This is our opportunity to make our lives His Message, and to serve Him thus.

I feel that it is this spirit of togetherness and happiness, of 'work is worship, duty is God', that we must continue with in our daily lives, be it within our respective Sai Centres, our respective regions, or as demonstrated at Sai Smaran, at National Sathsangs! After all, each of us is a contemporary of our beloved Bhagawan and owe it to ourselves to continue with His Work and His Mission.

I pray to Bhagawan that more opportunities are given to us, where we all work together in His name!

P. Kapil Dev
Regional Youth Coordinator,
Region 3, SSSSO UK.

Region 1 - 88th Birthday of our Lord Sathya Sai

The annual birthday season came early to Region 1 this year as, on the afternoon of Saturday 16 November, devotees from across that region congregated to mark Swaami's 88th birthday.

The programme was designed to reflect all the wings of the Organisation: there was a play by SSE children; a musical item by Sai Youth; group devotional songs led by ladies to mark Ladies' Day, representing centres from across the Region; a talk by the National Spiritual Coordinator, Brother Veeru; and all of it was wonderfully accompanied by loving service from an army of volunteers.

After the recitation of Ganapati Atharva Sheersham and Purusha Sooktam, the main prayers from major world religions were recited, before the first set of rousing devotional songs were sung by ladies. There was then the screening of a video produced by Swaami's students covering His childhood and part of His mission. The sounds and images captivated the audience throughout!

Brixton Sai Centre's SSE children then staged their play, "Money comes and goes, morality comes and grows." Through their wonderful acting, the audience was reminded that ego and greed would lead only to ruin.

It was then the turn of our Regional Chair, Brother Yoges, to recap the events of the year via a series of photographs. He thanked all centres and groups in the region for their love, support and help with all the regional events held in recent years, saying these would otherwise have been difficult to organise.

Thereafter, Brother Veeru rose to speak. He said that the purpose of Swami's mission is to transform us, to drive inner change, to remove the silent killer tendencies of anger and jealousy. We are transformed by Him with one word, one touch, one look. He came in 1926 and left in 2011 - was that it? No, our resolve should be to give happiness to everyone. As the contemporaries of the greatest Avataar who has ever walked the earth, we cannot simply continue as before! Although we may say we have travelled thousands of miles to Prashaanti Nilayam, in reality we have not travelled an inch if we have not made the effort to remove the silent killers of anger and jealousy. We need to develop equanimity. Brother Veeru said Swaami once said to him, "Do not 'try': 'do' it!?"

Music came next, with a suite of instrumentals and devotional songs by a group of Sai Youth from Tooting Sai Centre. With a mixture of Indian and western influences, the audience were spellbound by the skill and talent on display.

Finally, the programme was rounded off with a closing set of energetic group devotional songs from the ladies, the aaratee and the cutting of the cake by a pair of SSE children, the latter accompanied by the traditional birthday song.

With a programme incorporating such diverse elements, there was the usual risk that it would be too long for the audience to enjoy fully. This time, though, an interval had been incorporated, meaning audience members left after the programme feeling that it had been just the right length. It was our little birthday gift to them, one might say!

Thank You, Swaami, for giving us another opportunity to come and work together in unity.

Sai Raam!

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centres Royal Marsden Hospital Christmas Present Collection

Members of Brixton Sai Centre once again showed their generosity despite tough economic times by supporting the Centre’s annual Christmas present collection. As in previous years, the beneficiaries were the children of the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital in Sutton, Surrey. At a time when people think about spending time with family and loved ones, the loneliness of being in hospital, especially with a serious illness such as cancer, can really be painfully felt.

In all, a grand total of 58 gifts were kindly donated by members. Each one was lovingly wrapped; some even had sweetly-worded gift tags such as, “To a cute little girl aged 4+. Love Santa.” It was clear that a lot of effort and love had been put in by members when preparing and wrapping each gift.

All the gifts were delivered to the Royal Marsden on Christmas Eve, following in Santa Claus’s own footsteps! The staff were amazed at the bags of gifts received and thanked the Centre and its members for their kindness.

During this holy time, we are reminded of the words of Jesus in the Bible:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Aum Jai Sai Raam

Region 1 - Bromley Centre Celebrates Christmas

Bromley Centre celebrated Christmas on Saturday 14th December. The evening started with an end of term Christmas Party for our SSE (Balvikas) children. They sang Carols and sat down to a tasty array of English and Asian Buffet food, after they had pulled their Christmas Crackers it was most enjoyable to see them all sitting around the table talking to each other and laughing. The party ended with a game of Musical Chairs which the children always love to play. The Hall was then prepared for Prayers and Bhajans, Some of the children sang Bhajans which included ones to Lord Jesus and one of the Girls sang a very well known Hymn ( Shine Jesus Shine) which was very uplifting.

Sister Sandra then gave us a short talk on the Christmas Symbols and their Meanings. She explained each one as follows: The first Symbol of Christmas is The Manger: reminding us of the most Humble Beginning of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Star: A Heavenly sign of Prophecy fulfilled long ago, The shining hope of Mankind. The Colour Red: The first colour of Christmas symbolising Jesus the Saviour's sacrifice for all mankind. The Fir Tree: Evergreen, the second colour of Christmas shows everlasting Love and Light, The Needles point upwards to Heaven and the Triangular shape represents the Trinity, The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit - in Hindi: Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. The Bell: it rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold. The Candle: a mirror of Starlight reflecting our thanks for the Star of Bethlehem, the Star that lead the Shepherds and the 3 wise men to the Manger where the Baby lay. The Gift Bow : tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of Love and Peace forever. The Candy Cane: represents the shape of the Shepherds Crook, used to bring the lost sheep back into the fold. The Wreath : A symbol of the never ending eternal value of Love - having no beginning and no end. Gold : is the colour of the Sun and Light and was brought as a gift for the baby Jesus by one of the wise men. Silver and Gold : represent the richness of God's Blessings. The children then sang some Christmas Carols followed by Father Christmas who was great fun and asked each one a question before giving them a present. We finished with Christmas Prasad which was enjoyed by all.

Region 1 - Carol Singing by Brixton Sai Centre

This year, the members of Brixton Sai Centre once again donned their Santa hats and their Christmas jumpers to sing carols and seasonal songs at two local sheltered accommodation schemes. Brixton has had a long association with these two schemes, playing bingo at each location every month and also organising an afternoon of fun and entertainment at each location every summer.

The first session was at Truscott House in West Croydon, on Friday 20 December. It felt very magical. The residents were all sat ready and waiting for the carols to begin by the time the carollers arrived. It was wonderful to see the residents join in as we sang the glory of Lord Jesus. The joy on their faces gave a very special feeling. Afterwards, all adjourned to the dining room, which was adorned with festive decorations. Light snacks (including the obligatory mince pies with cream) were lovingly served by Centre members. All really enjoyed the magical evening and it was wonderful to see everyone happy.

On Christmas Eve, the Centre got together once again to see the joyful faces of the residents and staff of Freeman Court in Norbury. It was another magical and holy evening. Everyone took part in singing all the wonderful carols! Silent night? No, not at all, but it was indeed a holy night!

Kirtee Parmar
Brixton Sai Centre

Region 1 - New Years Eve with Brixton Sai Centre

The Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Brixton ended 2013 with group devotional singing on New Year’s Eve. The programme was held at the family home of one of our members. Although the weather was stormy, this did not stop our members from coming out to welcome the New Year with the singing of the names of our Lord.

The programme started with multi-faith prayers. There were a lot of people present who were not familiar with the devotional songs but, with the help of the songbooks provided and a list of the songs to be sung displayed at the front, everyone joined in and sang. The singing was lively and rousing, reaching a vibrant and energetic crescendo until the aartee was performed around midnight.

Thereafter, a short discourse and that day’s Thought of the Day from Prashaanti were read by our Spiritual Coordinator and our Chairperson respectively. The readings called on all to refocus and to renew our commitment to God and to our own spiritual development with the dawn of this New Year.

After the food prayer, a toast was made by all (with sparkling fruit juice!), followed by the serving of prashaadam (consecrated food). This was a very blissful night as we were with Swaami at the end of the old year as well as the beginning of the new.

We all pray that this New Year brings everybody joy, peace and good health. We also pray for those who are not as fortunate as us and ask Swaami to help them in any difficulty they go through in their lives. Happy New Year 2014!

Pooja Hurgobin
Brixton Sai Centre

Region 1 - Special Events at Merton Sai Centre

Ask a five year old SSE child to tell you the meaning of Christmas day. You’ll be surprised with the amount of detail and spirituality they could entwine in an answer.
Christmas Festivities are always fondly remembered by the SSE children as they progress through their years of education. Why is that so? It’s not only because of the abundance of sweets and presents that they receive but the amount of happiness and smiles that surround them and the confidence that’s placed in them knowing they are one of Swamis children and are supported by such a loving community.
Following in great tradition, this year’s Christmas celebrations at the Center on the Christmas day itself, started at 3pm with the Group1 and Nursery children, ages five to Seven, and their enactment of the Nativity Tale (One with God).

Along with Joseph and Mary were Angels, Stars, Inn-keepers, rabbits and donkeys each portraying Swami’s teachings in modern-day context. It was touching to see the children excited and fully engaged with the play and the audience was left in laughter and food- for thought from the explained wisdoms.
The success of the day was truly a credit to the hard-work and commitment of the children, SSE teachers and parent helpers, who pulled together through long rehearsal hours and worked as a team to find costumes, teach dances, provide food for the children and improve and practice lines outside rehearsals.

This consistent dedication over two months, has clearly given the children a lot of confidence and a platform to blossom.

The play was also aided by the Scouts group, who put together the Manger, Stable and the SSE choir who provided such beautiful melodies in-between scenes. Being able to watch their performance was a blessing and the sheer variety and talent shown on the day was a true example of how swami has been guiding his children.

New Year 2014

New year's eve, New Year's day & 33rd Anniversary of the Sai Mandir Inauguration day celebrations.
Devotees of the Center welcomed in the New Year with vibrant bhajans held until midnight on New Year’s Eve. The celebrations continued the following day with chanting, commemorating the 33rd Anniversary of the Sai Mandir at the temple.

The ceremony on New Year’s Day commenced with the temple priest performing auspicious rituals with offerings into the consecrated fire. Devotees then chanted the 1008 Sanskrit phrases of our beloved swami whilst the offering yellow rice to pictures of swami given to the individuals. Both gents and ladies took it in turns to offer their pranams at the lotus feet of Swami and offer flowers while the priest continued the necessary rituals. The celebration ended with bhajans and managala Arathi. Devotees left with an immense feeling of grace and vibration bestowed upon them.

Region 1 - Wimbledon Sai Centre New Years Bhajan 2014

Towards the run up to New Years Day, we all spend time, planning out how we are going to spend new years eve, we think about all the resolutions we conquered (or didn’t), and we begin to think about what resolutions to set for the new year to come. Every year we can chose to do something different, but we all know the best way to spend New Years is with our family. Which is why every New Years Day morning, Wimbledon Sai Centre, opens its doors to their extended Sai family, to welcome the New Year with our Eternal Mother. However it is an extra special day for Wimbledon Sai Centre, as it is also the day that the Centre was inaugurated. To celebrate such an auspicious day, we always begin the procession with a Ganesha Puja. A local priest from Stoneleigh Temple, performs the ritual and blesses us all and the centre to lead an obstacle free year.

This is followed by vibrating echoes of universal Vedic Chanting, and multi-faith prayers, to instil in our minds our unity in diversity. Which leads us beautifully into the soul inspiring Bhajans, which brings the whole congregation together in joyous melody, syncing everyone with the wonderful thoughts of the Divine Lord to reverberate within us throughout the year. If that wasn't enough to spiritually put us on the right track, we were swiftly moved to the fast lane, with a captivating melodious Carnatic musical rendition. This consisted of the Flute, Violin, Mrithangam and Morsing performed by highly talented youth. Divine music is known to have a curative virtue; it is a gift from God that brings healing and comfort to the soul. Which undeniably were the feelings that were materialised within all of us in the room. It truly was a wonderful way to begin 2014 and we can only look forward to what else our Divine Lord has planned for the rest of the year.

Wimbledon Sai Centre

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme: Christmas Hampers for the Homeless

Aum Sai Ram,

On the 20th Dec 2013, approximately 25 Youth from Region 1 gathered at the house of a devotee in Sutton, Surrey. Everyone was in high spirits as this was the annual ‘Hampers Collection and Compilation’ activity.

This is a youth led initiative, during which Christmas Hampers are made for ‘The Passage’, an organization that runs London’s largest voluntary sector day centre for homeless and vulnerable people. They also have a team of Outreach Workers, who make contact, often late at night or early in the morning, with those sleeping rough in the streets of London Victoria, South London.

The aim of the Hampers is to provide the basics, required for the homeless to keep them warm and dry over the winter months. Each Hamper contains 6 items, including a sleeping bag, rain coat, socks, gloves, a scarf and a hat. The hampers were to be distributed by The Passage Outreach Team on Christmas Eve.

In preparation for this event all Centre Youth Coordinators in Region 1 had liaised with their Sai Centers and had collected donations from devotees for the above items. We received a staggering response from devotees across Region 1.

The activity commenced with Three Aum’s, followed by a quick briefing regarding the processes by which the items were to be prepared and collated to form the hampers. The items were firstly, unboxed, de-tagged and removed from all packaging. They were then separated (by type) and placed in different areas. Each youth then walked around to each section and collected one of each item and placed it in the hamper bag, before leaving it in the hallway, for it to be quality checked and Christmas labelled.

A volunteer from The Passage than arrived and all Hamper Bags were loaded into his van, to be taken back to London Victoria and distributed on Christmas Eve. Over 121 Hampers were made and there was also a box of extra items that was donated too.

With Swami’s grace, the hamper packing task was completed earlier than expected, and as a result, we were fortunate to be able to commence packing for a medical camp in Sierra Leone, whereby the packing was to occur at the same venue, the following day.

Swami says: “Engage yourselves in service activity. Consider social service as service to God. This is the best way to earn God’s Love. Love all and Serve All. Your entire life will be sanctified thereby”.

Sai Ram

Vishal Patel
Youth from Tooting Sai Centre, Region 1

Region 2 - Christmas Celebrations at Slough Sai Centre

The Slough Sai Centre always celebrates Christmas and this year was no exception. Every wing plays a role to create a Divine atmosphere conducive to the celebration which also coincides with the SSE year end . The altar had a Christmas theme and colour and was very befitting to the occassion. The scene for celebration was set, as in Prashanti, with children bringing the lit candles to the altar with background instrumental carol music This contributed to the Holy atmosphere. Then with 3 Oms we had prayers and bhajans followed by a play prepared by the children which imparted the message of a 'True Christmas' celebration reflecting the similarities between the teachings of Sri Sathya Baba and Jesus Christ.

Amin an adopted blind child from India accompanied the Carol singing on the piano and this set the scene for Father Christmas and distribution of sweets and gifts to the children. The grand celebration concluded with aarti and a happy congregation.

Slough Centre SSE wing

Region 2 - Harrow West Celebrates Christmas

On the 22nd of December, Harrow West Sai Centre conducted the annual Christmas celebrations with a very enjoyable and varied programme. The programme kicked off with a selection of melodious English bhajans sung by our very own SSE children and youth.

Afterwards, the most anticipated event of the evening took place, the nativity play performed by the budding actors and actresses, the adults! Their rendition was very well received with plenty of laughs to keep us thoroughly entertained. Pride of place must go to Gurmit Uncle, whose performance as King Herald was truly excellent and made us gasp for breath from all the laughter!

With the conclusion of the play, we all joined together to sing our favourite Christmas carols. When we were singing ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas,’ lo and behold, Santa Claus appeared! He brought with him a huge bag of goodies for all of us. After showering us with sweets, he sat with us for Arathi.

Harrow West rounded off the Christmas programme with a hearty winter feast in the canteen. The success of the evening was down to every individual in our Harrow West Sai family and we would like to thank them all. Of course, a big thank you goes to Swami for making this all possible.

Abayan Arunan
G3Y2 SSE student.

Region 2 - New Year Eve Bhajans

Region 2 finished the final hours of 2013 and began 2014 on a truly Divine and memorable note, as bhajans and prayer filled the midnight air at Oxheywood Primary School in Watford.

Devotees raised the roof with energetic and high tempo prayers and bhajans from the very beginning of the programme which started at 10.00pm. Pitch perfect singers combined with talented musicians created the most sublime vibrations and Swami's darshan videos gave devotees a chance to reflect on the passing year with Swami and seek his blessings for the year to come.

Then just as the midnight hour approached, devotees started to chant 21 Aumkaars in unison and with one single, strong voice until on the stroke of 12am, to the backdrop of fireworks outside. This was followed by the chanting of the Ganapati atharva sirsam as a prayer to Lord Ganesh to grant knowledge and inspiration for the New Year. More beautiful bhajans graced the ears, followed by Mangal Araathi, Vibhuti Mantra and Swami's thought of the day which highlighted the eight flowers that Swami wants us to offer to him in 2014, namely the flowers of non-violence, control of the senses, compassion, forbearance, peace, penance, meditation and truth.

Swami's undeniable presence made this a truly magical, Divine and blessed way to start the beginning of a New Year and established his Divine blueprint for the year to come. SAI RAM and Happy New Year.

R2 Team

Region 3 - Young Adults Programme: Messenger "Service to Man is Service to God"

Om Sai Ram,

Following on from the National Youth Conference in February, Region 3 Youth have focused on the theme of ‘Master, Message & Messenger’ for 2013. We started the year exploring the various attributes of Bhagawan as our Master and the message He delivered to Mankind. The December Young Adults Programme [YAP], being the final session of the year provided the opportunity to put into practice the aspect of being a Messenger of Bhagawan.

Swami has said in the past, that "when service is done in the spirit of selflessness it will lead to self- realization..." and that by engaging ourselves in service our lives will be sanctified, and that it is the best way to earn God’s Love.

On Sunday 8th December 2013, a group of 12 youth from across 7 Sai Centers in Region 3, met in central London (Strand) at 7:30am, to distribute over 70 lunch bags, Tea and Coffee to the various homeless people that gathered around that vicinity. As well as lunch bags, gloves and thermal socks were distributed and the Ladies of Region 3 had also knitted a hats and scarves sets, which were also given out.

The lunch bags were donated, collected and prepared the night prior by many other youth in the Region. The beauty of this project lay in not only seeing the act of selfless service done on the day, but in also seeing various youth, of different age groups, different backgrounds and different centres, coming together under one name, for one cause, and serving our fellow brothers and sisters as well as our Beloved Bhagawan.

This was the second most recent homeless feeding activity conducted by the youth to date. The first being conducted on Avatarhood Declaration Day (as part of the ‘Serve the Planet’ initiative). The youth that have attended and contributed to these activities have all given positive feedback. Some of the youth had not previously been engaged in active service, and this opportunity was a new and rewarding experience. The success of these activities depend on team work, and it was evident and pleasing to see the youth working together in order to ensure that all the individuals were served with upmost love and care. We were also able to lend a kind ear to those we served and engaging with them only confirmed that this was worthwhile service.

Following on from these activities many of the youth have further expressed their willingness to contribute and to ‘do more’. One of the most positive aspects of these activities is seeing youth become inspired and perhaps begin the process of inner enquiry as to what they can do to better their offering to Bhagawan.

Bhagawan has always emphasized on the importance of service; in fact, most recently in Thought of the Day from Prashanthi:

"People worship God with devotion and sincerity, but God is not satisfied with external worship. You should serve society. Only service can confer bliss on you.By rendering service to society, you can alleviate the sufferings of the people, and also bring about transformation in their lives. YadBhavam Tad Bhavathi (as is the feeling, so is the result).When you serve with sacred feelings, it is bound to yield sacred results.Serve society to your utmost capacity.The satisfaction that you get by participating in bhajans is temporary, whereas service confers permanent satisfaction.Time is the most precious gift of God,but you are wasting it in vain pursuits and unsacred feelings.Sanctify the time given to you by serving society.Through service alone you can get rid of worries, ego, pomp and show,and other evil qualities..."
(Divine Discourse, Aug 22, 2000)

So, it is with this great thought and guidance that the region 3 youth shall now start continuing with this service activity – the aim shall be to conduct this on a once-every-two months basis, in which opportunities will be given to one and all, to engage in the various avenues presented by this project.

We thank Bhagwan for this continued guidance and pray to him to continue to inspire and direct our efforts as we begin the New Year.

Jai Sai Ram.
Kapil-Dev Prasher, Region 3 Youth Coordinator

Region 4 - Christmas Parcels by Derby Sai Group

Derby Sai Group for Christmas packed 88 parcels (in view of Beloved Swami's 88th Birthday) for the homeless in Derbyshire. The parcels contained gloves, caps, socks, chocolate and a Christmas card. Everyone got together after our 3rd Friday bhajan session on 20th December 2013 and the presents were handed over on Christmas Eve to a Derby based Charity called Padleys.

Padleys run a day centre for the homeless every single day of the year and on Christmas Day, they provide a Christmas lunch and a small gift to every one who comes for the Christmas dinner. The people who come on that day are not necessarily homeless and in many cases, they are lonely with no families to celebrate Christmas with. Padleys centre were very grateful for these parcels from the Sathya Sai Organisation.

Bharathi Sanghani

Region 4 - Christmas Party at Queniborough Village Hall

Saturday 14 December 2013

An annual Christmas party was organised for members of the community whom we regularly serve - residents of elderly homes where we conduct regular bhajan sessions, local adult groups whom we work with, recipients of meals on wheels service and elderly guests from our Centre.

Our guests were transported to the venue and returned to their homes after the party. A special mini-bus was arranged for guests requiring wheelchairs. Some volunteers arrived early to set up the hall with tables, Christmas decorations and PA.

On arrival, guests were served freshly brewed tea, coffee and non-alcoholic red and white wine together with peanuts and crisps. This was followed by a three course meal which included: vegetable soup and a platter of starters (bhajia and vol-au-vents with creamy mushroom, cream cheese and vegetable fillings), a choice of European and Asian cuisine for the main course and mince pies and trifle for dessert. The European meal consisted of soya and vegetable pie, roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts and gravy. The Asian meal was cauliflower and potato curry, moong dhal, rice and dhal.

In between the courses, we sang Christmas carols and played bingo. There was an open 'mic' session where some of our guests sang popular Western and Bollywood songs. We sang happy birthday to all those celebrating their birthdays on the day. The party ended with all the volunteers singing ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ to our guests and giving them a small Christmas gift.

Everyone attending the party enjoyed it immensely. We received some lovely comments at the end – ‘thank you; it was a lovely party’, ‘we really enjoyed it’, ‘thank you for looking after us so well.’ Many said they did not want to be forgotten for the next event and were looking forward to attending.

Here are a few pictures from the day:

Region 4 - Narborough Sai Centre Celebrate New Years Eve

The transition from 2013 to 2014 was an energetic and filled with positive vibes and many blessings. The Narborough Sai Centre of Leicester had many of Beloved Baba's Devotees all gathered together as a big family to celebrate the beginning of the New Year in pure Satchitanandam.

Before the evening had even begun, whilst the devotees were making themselves comfortable for the programme, Beloved Baba had shown His presence by dropping a beautiful yellow flower from His chair. It fell into His lap just as the three Om's were about to be chanted.

The night began with a collection of classical bhajan's sung by Swami's Children, all were sung with such beauty and grace. After an hour of exhilarating naam smaran, the Sai family presented a very lively Hanuman Chalisa to Bhagawan in the raag of pure dedication, Shravan. With the first hour over, Dr Kishan Gadhia, and ardent devotee of our Lord, spoke about Bhagawan and how He is always with each and every one of us and he also shared some of our Beloved Swami's Leela’s. After the short talk was over, two Sai Brothers gave a short interactive presentation about Swami's Teachings and how to live out His words.

The last hour was enjoyed thoroughly by all that were in the presence of Bhagwan as the youth had prepared a beautiful medley which said goodbye to 2013 and welcomed 2014 with a Jai Kaar for Bhagawan. The youth had spent many, many hours preparing and rehearsing the medley, the hard work and efforts of each one of them was shown that evening. Bhajans, prayers and musical interludes were woven together to create a very vibrant and powerful medley which was offered to Beloved Baba along with some flowers from two of the youngest youths who were taking part in this musical offering. At exactly 12am, the Aarti was sung with lots of love and devotion from each and every person that stood in front of Swami.

New Years Eve at Narborough Sai Centre was an explosion of positive Vibrations, Love, Devotion and Pure Bliss. The medley which was offered at Swami's Lotus Feet on the day in form of a card which will be sent to Prashanti to be put on Bhagawan Baba's Maha Samadhi.

Let us hope and pray that this New Year, He brings the whole of humanity all over the world lots of peace, love and many opportunities for Bhagawan's Children to serve Him.

Jai Sai Ram
Neelam Solanki
Active Sai Youth

Region 4 - Nottingham New Years Eve Bhajans

The year becomes new, the day becomes holy, when
you sanctify it by spiritual discipline, not otherwise

As in previous years, this event was organised to provide an opportunity for the devotees from 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 and Nottingham. Approximately 50 devotees sang with great Passion, Love and Joy to our beloved Swami in the auspicious setting of the Mandir hall, from 8pm to midnight with a 50 minute break for Prashad.

The program consisted of Prayers, Rudram and devotional songs and concluded with a medley of Bhajans and Aarti at midnight

It was a great way of ushering in the New Year, resulting in a lot of Love and joy in Devotee’s hearts.

This years theme was Love - let it flow
• so we can serve with Compassion and humility and break this cycle of birth and Death
• So we can achieve the harmony of thought word and deed
• So we can see love in others.
• Love is God - Live in Love

Region 4 - Peace Walk in Coventry

Swami says ‘Love All Serve All’? He says ‘There’s only ONE religion, the religion of LOVE’?

On Saturday 2nd November 2013, I experienced Oneness, Unity and only ONE mankind. Never again did the words ...Hindus...Muslims...Sikhs...Jews... mean anything.

Although it was a crisp bitter morning, we had gathered outside in the gardens of the Priory Visitor Centre, in the heart of Coventry; each allotted person recited prayers from different faiths in English. The meanings were all very similar… a Christian prayer, a Hindu prayer, a Muslim prayer, a Zoroastrian Prayer, a Sikh prayer, a Baha’i prayer, a Buddhist prayer and finally a prayer that encapsulated every faith and yet the words did not differ.

Today was the first time that I was going to embark on a different kind of journey; a journey to recognise the same divinity in all of us, that no matter where one worships, he/she is still an integral part of ME. What will I feel? What will I experience?

Our first stop was at the ruins of the Coventry Cathedral and the Dean of Coventry, led us through a prayer with a short discourse. We then walked through Broadgate as this is the ‘hub’ of the city centre where people from all walks of life gather and sit on the benches watching the world go by. I wondered what were their thoughts when they saw us carry our banner of ‘Peace’ with all the followers from different faiths walking together? Could they see and feel our attempt at unity? Did the people of Coventry believe in its motto?

Coventry’s motto is “City of Peace & Reconciliation” and this forms part of the focus for the way forward - to reconcile with the faith communities and move forward as one unit. The more I looked into the motto, I realised that some great ‘happening’ in history had brought this about.

On the night of 14th November 1940 during WWII, Coventry was bombed. German planes dropped over 4000 firebombs killing hundreds of people and destroying many parts of Coventry including the medieval Cathedral (current ruins).

The legacy of the ‘The City of Peace & Reconciliation’ began that year. It was the provost of the ‘then’ cathedral who said to the people of Coventry to seek ‘forgiveness’ as opposed to ‘revenge’ and not only to forgive the people of Germany but the whole of humanity. This was opposed by many as it was issued in the midst of war! However, after the war, this provost initiated the reconciliation process, first with Germany (Dresden). Coventry was the very first city in the world to be twinned with another. Today, the reconciliation process continues with the successful provost of the Cathedral, initiating many projects and exchanges with other countries.

I suddenly felt proud to be a ‘Coventrian’. The meaning ‘sent to Coventry’ had a completely different ring to it. It was no longer connected with soldiers, instead, to be sent to Coventry for me meant to learn about making Peace with not only yourself, but with the people around you and to grow spiritually together.

Our visit to the Cathedral, the Spiritualist Church, the Mosque, the Gurudhwara and the Hindu temple re-iterated Swami’s message of “There’s only ONE religion, the religion of LOVE” without a shred of doubt. In conclusion, I saw the physical buildings we visited. Each with a different name on the front, each having their own colours and uniform and language; but each time I felt as if I was entering the same place of worship via a different door. I felt the same essence of spirituality, the energy. There was no difference. 73 years on….Coventry’s pursuit of Peace still continues…now that’s perseverance!

Vina Mistry – Coventry

Region 4 - Serving Closer to Home

Sometimes we think to serve we must reach out far and beyond, yet we forget that our community, our very own foundations need closer attention and service.

The Eastwest Centre of Narborough Road, Leicester holds Bhajans every Thursdays and forms a hub of countless programmes for Bhagawan's work. Just before the New Year dawned, a group of local Sai Youth set about to serve their very own spiritual home. They painted and cleaned the Centre not just for themselves but for whoever would use the venue for occasions.

A person should strive to use every talent and skill they have, not only for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the whole world. Understand that society is the source of whatever pleasure one derives and whatever wealth one achieves in life. We owe everything to society and should be grateful to society for all that we receive from it. We have to repay this debt by helping at least as many people as we can. With a genuine keenness or readiness to serve others, one can attain happiness in any group or community. So service helps our worldly self but at another level, we are serving the one God that is within us all, the Supreme, absolute SELF, and this will help us become aware of the unity of humanity.

Jai Sai Ram
- Bhavin Jivraj

Region 5 - Sri Sathya Sai Laksharchana, Bolton

A Devotee once asked Swami, "If we want to be with You always, what should we do? " Swami lovingly replied, "Namasmarana, Namasmarana! It can be achieved only by chanting God's Name. Wherever Bhakthi dwells, God resides there". This was evident on December 7th at the Veda Mandir Bolton where the unified chanting of ‘Om Shree Sathya Sai Krishnaya Namaha’ recharged every devotee spiritually, transporting them to Prashanti Kulwant Hall. The regional Laksharchana brought together the whole Sai family of Region 5 and beyond, with over two hundred devotees attending from all over the North West, the Midlands and as far as London.

The Laksharchana ceremony was developed by Dr Gadia, who was granted the Mantra ‘Om Shree Sathya Sai Krishnaya Namaha’ by Swami, to be used in this sacred sadhana of chanting the Lord’s name one-hundred thousand times. The meaning of this mantra was explained beautifully by Shobhanaben from Birmingham, who conducted the Laksharchana ceremony at a pace leading us closer and closer to the Divine. She broke down the mantra, explaining: ‘OM’ as the initial sound of the Universe, ‘SHREE’ as Goddess Laxmi, ‘SATHYA’ as the never-changing truth, ‘-AI’ meaning divine Mother, ‘KRISHNA’ being the reincarnation of Narayana and embodiment of love, and ‘NAMAH’ as I bow to thee. With full enthusiasm, Shobhanaben began the Laksharchana, and the divine vibrations began to flow throughout the building and even through a phone call to Prashanti Nilayam!

The structure of the programme allowed devotees to listen to two guest speakers, one being Shobhanaben herself, explaining her journey from hardly even knowing Shirdi Sai Baba, to becoming a strong devotee of Sathya Sai Baba. Her questioning of the Lord’s whereabouts on Earth led her to Swami, through a series of experiences and dreams, one in which Bhagawan lovingly led her to the Purnachandra Hall and explained to her who He is known as, and where He resides. From this point onwards, Shobhnaben’s faith in Swami grew and flourished.

The next guest speaker was Mr Dipakbhai Fakey OBE, founder of the Good Values club, who had kindly travelled from Leicester to inspire devotees with his words of wisdom. He brought to our attention the great development in SSEHV taking place in the UK, and the positive effect the programme has led to in his students. The speech was ended with a story, a story reinforcing our role as an instrument at the Lotus Feet.

After a few concluding Malas, the programme was rounded up with an energetic and uplifting bhajan session, with the divine energy generated from the Laksharchana shining through every devotee as they sang their heart out to the Lord.

After such as spiritual and successful day, even Swami had blessed the day with drizzles of Amrit on his photo-Thank you Bhagawan!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Swami for the strength He granted to every single person who took part in the organisation and conveyance of this beautiful Sadhana.

Sai Ram

With Love,
Ketan Parmar
Sai Region 5 - Bolton

Region 6 - "Happiness": Reflection after Decembers i2I Session

Introduction:

“The sessions (i2I workshops) awakened the knowledge that I had acquired through Swami's teaching but somehow detached them from my every day life. It gave me the confidence and the beautiful realisation that divinity is everywhere and most importantly that it is not a far fetched journey but a process of evaporation of the maya! It is the current that is running within us but needs the occasional spark to remind us of our true power!”

Happiness

Happiness I utter softly
What can it really be?
To feel or be complete?

Is it a journey, a pursuit?
How can it be?
For I would jump on they train to reach a better plane.

Happiness I utter again more firmly.
Is it not living in awareness unfettered by good, nor tainted by the bad.

Happiness I beam out loud.
Is it not shredding the personality or
refining ones projections to break the shackles of the world.

Happiness, happiness, happiness
It is always here
Within us all
Laying silently, glowing forth

Happiness, I smile
It is knowingly knowing
Loving without a cause.
Happiness, I smile,
It is everything to be.

~ Sai Ram ~
Region 6 Youth

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