November 2014 Edition

Quote

The root causes of pain and pleasure, love and hate, and materialistic desires are the temptations of the mind. “This is mine; that is thine.” These dual feelings are the sole reasons for the desires or temptations of the mind. The reason for this dualism is selfishness. Man has become so selfish that he does not care for others or anything other than his own welfare. The main reason for these dual feelings of love and hatred is selfishness. One who constantly thinks of his own body, his own family, his own wealth, and his own comfort is a truly selfish man. The only way to cleanse such a hard-hearted man is through service to humanity. It is necessary to recognize that a man’s life is meant to be spent in selfless service and in the service of the Self. Such a life of service is not to gain either name or fame, to allow expression of one’s ego, or in the furtherance of one’s own ends. Service that is done for selfish gain is not service at all.

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

National Christmas Celebrations 2014

Articles

Be like Children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven

Christmas Celebrations

Dates for National Events in 2015

National Birthday Celebrations 2014

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Birthday Celebrations

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Celebrates Ladies Day

Region 1 - Bromley Sai Centre: Birthday Celebrations

Region 1 - Merton Centre: Ladies Day

Region 1 - Mitcham Sai Group Birthday Celebrations

Region 1 - Pollards Hill Sai Centre Birthday Celebration

Region 1 - SSE Training Day

Region 1 - Swami’s Birthday Celebrations at Wimbledon Sai Centre

Region 1 - Tooting Sai Centre Birthday Celebrations

Region 1 – Wimbledon Sai Centre: Ladies Day Celebrations

Region 2 - Akhanda Bhajans

Region 2 - Harrow West Sai Centre: Swami and Us on His 89th Birthday...

Region 2 - Slough Sai Centre: Birthday Celebrations

Region 2 - SSE Akhanda Bhajans: SSE Blossoming of Human Excellence

Region 2 - SSE The Great Diwali Bake Off

Region 3 - Re-SAIcycling and More: Akhanda Bhajans Go Green

Region 3 - Rudram Ekadashi Programme

Region 4 - Coventry and Rugby Sai Centre: Global Service Day 2014

Region 4 - Leicester Akhand Bhajans: Sing for Harmony

Region 5 - Akhanda Bhajans

Region 5 - Birthday Celebrations

Region 5 - Laksharchana at Preston

Region 5 - Leeds Birthday Celebrations

Region 6 - Brighton & Hove Group: Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Birthday Celebration

Region 6 - Farnborough Sai Centre: Birthday Celebrations

Region 6 - Roschester Sai Centre Birthday Celebrations

Editorial

Dear Love & Light Readers,
Sai Ram to you!

November is probably one of the busiest and most important month in the diaries of Sai devotees around the globe being spent in prayers, contemplation and reflection.

We engaged in singing the glory, the magnificence and the splendour of God and His myriad names across the length and breadth of the country and the world over in a multitude of languages, tunes and melodies in a variety of cultural settings on the 8th and 9th of November when we observed the Global Akhand Bhajans (continual devotional singing). It was a blessed privilege of the many to be amidst the company of the Good, of the God loving, to sing His Glory, cleansing and purifying the air and the environment around by the divine vibrations.

The joyous occasion culminated with the National Birthday Celebrations held on the 15th November to mark the 89th year of the advent of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This was held in London and themed,’ Love is My Form’ – describing the true nature of Baba. Around 600 devotees from around the country were drawn to this important event that was made extra special by Phillis Krystal who addressed the gathering and Sairam Iyer, uniquely gifted by his masculine and feminine voice, who thrilled the gathering with his heart rending singing. It truly was a memorable day; this heralded the start of the birthday celebrations for centres around the country.

Baba lovingly reminds us,’I do not accost one particular date in the calendar as My birthday, for I consider the day when Divinity blossoms in your heart as My birth- day in you. Therefore each of you should individually celebrate such a day as My birthday.’

November also witnessed ‘Ladies Day’ which was observed in a number of centres across UK.

The nation also remembered on 11th November the end of hostilities of World War 1 which formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

December brings delight in anticipation of Christmas. The air is filled with a scent of festivity and giving. It is a time when families and friends get together to share love, to reflect upon 2014 and to rejoice the coming of 2015 and to make new resolutions.

There is enthusiasm and excitement amongst devotees as well, in preparation for our National Christmas Celebrations on the 14th December at the Cheltenham Ladies College, Cheltenham, when we will be celebrating the occasion in the true traditional spirit. We have a wonderful festive programme to include the traditional Christmas Service, uplifting prayers and music, Christmas Carols and Nativity and a sumptuous Christmas lunch. George Bebedelis, an ardent devotee of Baba from Greece will be our guest speaker.

Please register via the attached link to avoid disappointment:

http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/christmascelebrations2014/

I wish all our readers a Merry and Joyous Christmas!

Dr Kiran Patel,
National Chair Person

Be like Children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven

On beautiful Sunday mornings in Prasanthi Nilayam, where devotees usually sat in eager anticipation of the arrival of Bhagawan Baba for His Divine Darshan, the air would be filled with an heightened excitement and fervour. For, there would be sat too, in neat rows of fresh faces and beaming smiles, some with roses in hand and yet others with cards or drawings or poems penned specially to offer their Lord as He came by, the tiny tots from the famous Sathya Sai Primary School. And when the Lord did come by, seeming equally eager for this special meeting, it was a sight to behold the sweet and tender interaction between Him and these joyous little hearts!

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Swami would often ask a boy, ‘Where are you from’, and pat would come the reply, ‘From You, Swami!’. Bhagawan would ask the next boy, ‘Who is your mother’, and the next one ‘Who is your father’, and the next one ‘Who is your teacher’, and yet another ‘Who is your God’. The unflinching answer to all these questions, no matter how many times they were pressed by Bhagawan to give the ‘real’ details, would be a sweet but confident ‘ You, Swami!’.

After one such interaction on a Sunday morning in 1984, during my ‘Student’ days, Bhagawan turned towards us the ‘older’ students and remarked, “ See how confidently they give these answers. If I were to ask you older boys, you will not be able give such answers!”. Instantly a thought flitted across my mind, that said, ‘Swami! Please ask and You will see that I too can give such ‘tutored’ answers. Isn’t what really matters the true awareness of it?’. This random and imperfect thought, for it was just that, disappeared as quickly as it had arrived in me whilst in the Divine Presence, and I soon forgot about it.

That evening, after the Interview session with some fortunate devotees, Bhagawan came to walk amidst us, the older boys, who used to sit on the ‘Mandir Verandah’. He began interacting with various brothers sat near me, engaged in a seemingly ‘casual’ banter. Suddenly He turned to address me and asked, “ Where are you from?”. I was completely, but happily, taken by surprise. I jumped up on my knees and blurted, ‘From Hyderabad, Swami!’. Hardly had these words escaped my lips, I realised the Himalayan blunder I had committed! I was mortified by this folly, and by what I had imagined to be a stray thought that morning. But the Ever Compassionate Lord, stood in front of me with a comforting and loving smile, placed His right hand on my head and with a stretched left hand pointing to some monkeys jumping about on the roofs of the cement arches under construction at the time in the Mandir grounds, said: “Monkey mind…..Monkey mind!”. I reflected and understood by His Grace, that the Lord was identifying for my benefit and learning, the cause of my discomfiture and the state of my mind, both of which needed re-education and transformation.

Bhagawan reminds us that the genuine nature of a human being is Divinity, and that of the human mind is Purity, which we find best reflected in the sweet smile of a baby in the cradle or in its mother’s arms. This spontaneous and unassuming smile disarms us instantly, giving us freedom from the lies and deceits of the world, and filling us with unsullied happiness, at least momentarily. One can only be lost in lament when wondering about how, being ourselves born in this natural state of divinity and purity, we have foolishly allowed our minds to be tarnished as we grew with each passing year! And in doing so, how is it that we have allowed ourselves to drift far away from our innate reality: Divinity.

No wonder then, that Lord Jesus declared, “ If I were to be a child everyday for a while, with full faith in my mother, how happy I would be!” (SS Speaks May 1994).

The theme for this year’s National Christmas Celebrations in UK, ‘Be Like Children To Enter the Kingdom Of Heaven’, Lord Jesus’ Message in the Bible (Matthew 18:3), is an apt reminder of the path and purpose to all seekers on the spiritual journey. In their childlike innocence, simplicity, enthusiasm, confidence and openness, children experience happiness and peace. They scatter joy, love and light to all others in their company freely and unconditionally. Let us all pray together to the Divine Lord, as His Children, on the auspicious occasion of Holy Christmas, to bless us with the untainted joy of our own innate nature.

Dr. Veeru Mudigonda
National Vice-Chairperson,
SSSSO UK

Christmas Celebrations

Christmas is an annual religious and cultural holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ celebrated on the 25th December by billions around the globe. Popular modern customs around Christmas include gift giving, Christmas music, singing carols, exchange Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas and others are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions.

Human mind tends to forget the inner significance of this great celebration. Sathya Sai Baba reminds us on its inner meaning,

“The observance of holy days like Christmas is an occasion for realising the importance of love and harmony among human beings. It is not right to celebrate Christ's birthday by feasting, drinking, singing and merry-making. The ideals taught by Jesus should be put into practise. That is the right way to celebrate his birthday.” ssspeaks/volume21/sss21-34

The purpose of human life is to realise oneself as commanded by the sacred writings. It is the destiny of man to journey from humanity to the ultimate goal of Divinity. There are many spiritual seekers who by their devotion, dedication and disciplined lives, attain Godhood, the vision of the Omnipresent, Omnipotent and the Omniscient One. Some are content with the Bliss they have won for themselves and consider that as their ultimate goal. There are however others, who make it as their mission, to go out and share this bliss and thereby inspire others with their experiences to tread the path.

“Divine personalities and Incarnations of God take birth in human form. They move amongst the afflicted and the seekers who have lost their way or strayed into the desert, and lead them into confidence and courage. Certain personalities are born and live out their days for this very purpose. They can be called kaaranajanmas (born for a purpose), for they take on the janma (birth) for a kaarana (cause, purpose). Such guides, exemplars and leaders, appear among all peoples and in all lands. They inspire faith in higher ideals, and teach in the Voice of God, counselling from the heart.”
ssspeaks/volume21/sss21-34

Baba beautifully describes Jesus’s spiritual journey,

”Jesus was kaarana-janma, a Master born with a purpose, the mission of restoring love, charity
and compassion in the heart of man. He had no attachment to the self, nor paid any heed to joy or
sorrow, loss or gain. He had a heart that responded to the call of anguish, and he went about the
land preaching the lesson of love. His life was a libation for the upliftment of humanity.
Like most seekers, he first searched for the Divine in the objective world. But he soon realised
that the world is a kaleidoscopic picture created by one's own imagination, and sought to find
God within himself. His stay in the Himalayan monasteries in Kashmir and in other centres of
eastern asceticism and philosophical inquiry, gave him greater awareness. From the attitude of
being a Messenger of God, he could now call himself the Son of God. The bond of relationship
increased: the ‘I’ was no more some distant light or entity; the light became a part of the ‘I.’ With
the body-consciousness predominant, he was a messenger. With the heart-consciousness in the
ascendant, he-felt a greater nearness and dearness, and so the son-father bond seems natural at
this stage. Later as the Aathman-consciousness was established, Jesus could declare, "I and My Father are One." The three stages may be described as: ‘I in the Light,’ ‘the Light is in me,’ and ‘I am the light’.”
ssspeaks/volume21/sss21-34

The Cross is the symbol for Christianity and is worshipped by Christians. Sathya Sai Baba has lovingly explained its significance,

“Unity of head, heart, and hand is essential for man. This is the true significance behind the Christians making cross sign. Install God in your heart. Contemplate on Him and undertake good deeds. Consider every activity as God’s work and act accordingly. Merely feeding the poor and distributing clothes to the needy do not constitute seva (selfless service). Along with this, one has to cultivate love, which is eternal. Right from dawn to dusk all our actions should be suffused with love.”
ssspeaks/volume31/sss31-45

One reminisces Christmas Celebrations in the Divine physical presence of Sathya Sai Baba in Prasanthi Nilayam, His abode in India. One witnessed the demonstration of the power of Love. People from many countries flocked to His abode who spoke different languages and came from diverse religious and cultural background with their different dresses, mannerisms and customs. Transcending all these differences, they got together as brothers and sisters with a sense of Brotherhood of Man and Fatherhood of God inspired by Sathya Sai Baba and His Message of Love that bound everyone together.

Elsewhere in the world, people drunk, ate all sort of foods, and made merry in the name of Christmas. To the contrary, Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam was special, celebrated in a holy atmosphere, an occasion to spend as a “holy day”and not as a “holiday”!

On the Christmas morning, overseas devotees all dressed in whites gathered in the Sai Kulwant Hall, singing carols during Nagarsankirtan (walking in procession singing God’s Name and His Glory) and carrying candles and assembling for the early morning darshan (sight of Baba). It was a sight to be witnessed when Baba made His appearance in the balcony, dressed in a white robe. Later, Baba made His way to the hall in His white robe led by a procession of children from overseas countries who were dressed as the characters in the Nativity. Baba then very lovingly blessed the cakes that were offered and then the programme commenced. In the latter years, the University brass band participated, filling the hall with heart rending musical tunes and melodies. The young boys grateful for the chance to perform finished their slot with singing of ‘Jingle Bells’ accompanied by young Santas’ who prayerfully approached Baba with their gift bags to be blessed. Baba enjoyed every second of the proceedings throwing a few toffees to the boys nearby, and the Santas going around the hall distributing their bag contents. This was followed by singing of Christmas songs. Then Baba delivered His Christmas Message exhorting and reminding all those gathered about Jesus’s life, His Mission and Message. It was a Joyous occasion and an experience to witness.

Dates for National Events in 2015

Sai Smaran Bhajans - Saturday 10th January 2015

National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference – Saturday 24th January 2015

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day – Sunday 26th April 2015

National Easwaramma Day – Saturday 2nd May 2015

National Retreat/Pre-World Conference – date tba

Avatar Declaration Day – Sunday 18th October 2015

National Birthday Celebrations – Sunday 15th November 2015

National Pilgrimage – Sunday 20th – 27th December 2015

National Birthday Celebrations 2014

As one person put it, this was the event that kicked off a week (if not longer) of celebrations of our dear Lord’s 89th birthday across the country. Yes, the National Birthday celebrations, titled “Love is My Form,” were held in Wandsworth Town Hall, London, on Saturday 15 November.

Altar at Entrance to Wandsworth Civic Centre – presenting a Grand Welcome

Altar on the First Floor of Wandsworth Civic Centre – keeping everyone connected

Proceedings started with three aums but, instead of being followed by the usual prayers or devotional songs, our National Vice-Chair, Veeru Rao, described the Advent of our Lord by reading out a very powerful passage describing the events that surrounded the birth of the Incarnation of Lord Sathya Sai, 88 years ago in Puttaparthi, a remote unknown little village in Andhra Pradesh, India at the time. Accompanying his reading was the playing of musical instruments and other sounds, just as was the case during that holy nativity. This was followed by a recitation of the Guru Paadukaa Stotram (verses adoring the sandals of the Supreme Teacher) accompanied by SSE children who walked towards the stage carrying trays with lights.

This was followed by a traditional dance presented by SSE children from Wimbledon Sai Centre, Region 1. The audience was captivated by the four little girls who expressed themselves so beautifully through their rhythmic bodily movements and emotional expressions.

SSE (Sai Spiritual Education) Children Dance & Preamble to the Programme

Dr Kiran Patel, Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) then delivered the welcome address, where he described the different facets of Bhagawan Baba and shared experiences of His Divine Love for humanity that demonstrated His innate nature. It was not surprising that the event was themed ‘Love is My Form’.

A real treat during the first half of the programme was an item, “Living in Love,” presented by alumni of the Sathya Sai educational institutions from India who current residein the UK. Primarily taking the form of a dialogue between two or three students, interspersed with songs and video clips, the audience was treated to a vivid reminder through numerous personal anecdotes of how Baba was a loving mother as well as a stern but caring father. Examples included how He would await His students’ return from a day of Graama Seva (village service) activity, foregoing food in the process; or how He narrated to one student what was happening to his parents in Uganda at the time of their eviction from the country, whilst simultaneously saving them from further trouble via a physical form He assumed of a local African. We also learned that, when the students would long and crave for His attention after a seemingly endless period of His ignoring and evading them for the sake of educating them for the better, their weapon would be songs such as “O Sai Maa” (O Mother Sai) – which worked every time, since Lord Sai was like butter melting away with the warmth and outpouring of Love! On another occasion, when asked on one’s approach, given that we could treat Him as our mother, father, or a friend, Baba responded that it was best we regarded Him as a guru (Teacher) because then He would be able to take charge of our lives.

Alumni of the Sathya Sai Institutions sharing their close moments with Bhagawan Baba

Following a rousing rendition of “Tere Janam Din Me Sai” (Your birthday, Sai) and cake-cutting by SSE children, the Mayor of Wandsworth then addressed the audience. Councillor Stuart Thom cited the five human values, as espoused by Bhagawan Baba, as being essential to today’s society.

Audience entertained during the programme & Cake Cutting Ceremony led by Children

After a scrumptious and delightful lunch, the audience was treated to a suite of devotional songs, rendered in a variety of languages, melodies and tunes – in English, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and French and accompanied by a group of very accomplished young musicians. We felt instantly transported to the Divine abode of Sathya Sai where such wonderful performances are performed in His presence.

Mayoral Address being Delivered by Councillor Stuart Thom & Musical offering by the youth performers

Then came what was the icing on the cake for the many devotees who had gathered: a talk by the veteran devotee Mrs Phyllis Krystal, our keynote speaker. Still going strong at the age of 100, it was inspiring to hear her thoughts, speaking from personal experience and also from unswerving and steadfast faith with Him. Phyllis started by narrating how she had felt unwell the previous day, but that she prayed not to let us down! Such selflessness! She revealed that she always asked Baba to speak through her; she had been getting a clear message from Baba that she should be speaking about Love, so that formed the subject of her talk. Phyllis enlightened the audience how to connect to Swami, Heart to Heart, by asking all to imagine a physical connection between His heart and ours. His Love was our birth right, she said, something that we ought not to feel reluctant to request. All were entitled to His pure Love. She then explained how one could give this pure Love to others via a simple visualisation technique. She remarked that the world was currently lacking Love, so it desperately needed Love to spread. This seemingly simple technique was quite powerful and many afterwards expressed a desire to practise it on a regular basis. Fittingly, Phyllis Krystal received a standing ovation at the end.

Musical offering by the youth performers & Phyllis Krystal sharing her experience of Love

The final item, a high point of the day, was a performance by the accomplished vocalist Sairam Iyer. Those unfamiliar with his repertoire were taken aback when, as he sang the film devotional song, “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” (Truth, Auspiciousness, Beauty), out of his mouth came a female voice! Indeed, many present would have said that it was as if the original singer, Lata Mangeshkar herself, was present! Expressing his gratitude to Baba for His Grace and Blessings innumerable times, Sairam Iyer demonstrated his amazing proficiency and gift in singing using both male and female voices. He kept the audience spellbound by his performance. Sairam Iyer ended his performance by singing a few group devotional songs, a fitting end to this memorable celebration of Sathya Sai Baba’s Birthday.

Musical finale by Sairam Iyer

When the end came, as it inevitably does, people left with smiles on their faces and a warmth in their hearts. There was a good feeling all around, a sense of gratitude to Bhagawan Baba for the opportunity of being part of the elevating programme. One could not forget the selfless work by the army of volunteers who assisted with tasks such as hall and altar set-up, audio-video, food preparation and car park duty. It left one and all from across the country feeling uplifted and motivated to be part of His Divine mission and uphold His teachings.

Roni Ramdin - Brixton Sai Centre, R1
Sakthi Shanmugathasan - R1 Spiritual Coordinator

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Birthday Celebrations

The Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Brixton commemorated the 89th birthday of Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba on 23rd November 2014, at Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College. Volunteers transformed the classroom into a beautifully decorated shrine for Swaami. As 10am approached, the room started filling up with more than 70 devotees and the celebration commenced with a remarkable thought of the day:

‘Many must be thinking about the gift to offer Swaami on His Birthday. The present given to God must be pure, steady and selfless Love. You can rejoice that you have given the Lord a real gift only when you love your fellowmen, share their sufferings, and engage in serving them. Adopt villages and make them ideal villages. The rich and powerful have plenty of servants. The distressed, the poverty-stricken, and the diseased have no one to serve them. Go to them and be their friends and relatives, their closest well-wishers. Let them welcome you as such. Do not pour spirituality into the ears of those who are tortured by hunger and afflicted by pain. First satiate their hunger. Serve them as God and give food, clothes, and medicines and then teach them spirituality. I bless you with long life, good health, bliss, peace and prosperity. May you devote your physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual strength and skills for the service of the Universe.’
-Divine Discourse, 23 Nov 1982

Two minutes’ silence was observed to let go of our thoughts and quieten our mind. We were surrounded with divine atmosphere as a symphony of the Vedas, multi faith prayers and group devotional singing were offered to our dearest Swami.

Our SSE students made a wonderful offering in a form of a play titled, ‘The Loyal Builder’. The play was based on Swaami's teachings about "Shraddhaa aur Saabari" (faith and patience). The children certainly brought about laughter of exhilaration and tears of love. The students’ hard work over the previous couple of months shone through the narrators’ memorisation of the script and the actors’ well-timed and marvellous performances. They did the teachers, parents and Sai family proud through their engaging and heart warming performance.

The main part of the event was singing happy birthday to our Swaami. The celebration concluded with the aartee, food prayer and mahaa prashaadam (a full meal of consecrated food), homemade by our fabulous members. We express our most humble gratitude at the lotus feet of our beloved Sri Sathya Sai Baba for being able to mark this auspicious occasion with our Sai family.

- Vidhi Rupchandani

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Celebrates Ladies Day

‘If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation, there will peace in the world.’

On Sunday 19th November, the Sai sisters of Brixton Sai Centre marked the auspicious occasion of Ladies’ Day. The morning celebration comprised prayers and group devotional singing. It was a wonderful morning as we offered our reverence and homage to our Divine Mother.

A special surprise activity, organised by some of our Sai sisters, awaited us next door. As we made our way to our surprise, we saw the tables neatly laid with tablecloths, blocks of butter, jars of pickle and packets of shredded cheese. When I heard that we were going to mark the special day by making sandwiches and donating them to the Mother Teresa Home in Elephant & Castle, I was reminded of my time in Prashaanti taking part in graama seva (service to villages).

While making the sandwiches, we chanted the Gaayatree Mantra. Our SSE children excitedly helped us and were very curious to understand what we were doing and why we were taking part in this service activity. This was our opportunity to offer a small token of our love to our Swaami by serving our community.

We were able to finish four boxes of sandwiches in half an hour; this really showed that working together is better done when we have unity and devotion. The children decorated lovely notes to stick on the boxes; and soon the sandwiches were ready to deliver.

On 19 November 1995, out of His immense love and compassion, Swami initiated Ladies’ Day. This day is now an annual event, observed worldwide on 19 November. Women are represented as the qualities of truth and culture and these qualities will protect the nation. Bhagawaan has very lovingly guided women about the significant role they can play in shaping individual and national character. In His divine discourse on 19 November 1995, Sri Sathya Sai Baba explained:

‘If the nation has to prosper, improvement must start with the parents. Without peace and harmony at home, there can be no peace in the nation. This message should be propagated throughout the country on every November 19th, by observing it as Ladies' Day. You should teach people how to run their homes well and how to bring up children on right lines. You must deal calmly and tactfully with the men, if they are not cooperating. Though Raavana was evil-minded, his noble wife, Mandodhari, tried to correct him as much as possible. She advised him strongly not to keep Seetaa in Lanka, but to restore her to Raama.’

Our Ladies’ Day service activity was one in a million! We thank Swaami for being able carry out this service and especially remind ourselves the value of a mother’s love.

Kirtee Parmar

Region 1 - Bromley Sai Centre: Birthday Celebrations

My parents brought me to the Bromley Sai celebrations on Sunday 23rd November and I was thoroughly looking forward to this Day.
Firstly the hall was a different one to the usual hall that our centre uses but once the talented ladies created a beautiful alter adorned in golden and deepest burgundy colours the setting became a familiar surrounding, with wafts of fragrant vibhuti filling the air with warmth and love .

As the energy filled the hall with around 100 devotees, I could see my fellow Balvikaas students placing the beautiful yellow sashes around our bright white uniforms in readiness for the March Past.
The music arrived promptly as we excitedly took our places and proudly saluted our Lord. Once the melodious bhajans were sung by our gifted singers, this set the scene for our love offerings on our beloved Lords 89th Birthday.

All my fellow students performed short stories on why we love learning the human values at our regular classes with committed and hardworking teachers by our side. The nursery class also sang beautifully and the whole congregation enjoyed their performance.

The speaker Aunty Louise who reminded us of all the small miracles that occur in our everyday life, which we must not fail to notice, inspired us and show gratitude as Our Lord is everywhere and in all the paths we take.

The final part of the evening involved the cake cutting of a creamy fruitcake and gently swinging our Lord on a beautiful swing, whilst enjoying the video presentation of Our Lord explaining how the5 Human values are inter-connected.

I had exams all week but did not want to miss the opportunity of tasting the delicious prasadam of hot curries and birthday cake, which the ladies of our centre take great care in preparing and organising. Everyone helped to tidy the hall and left this year’s celebration with elation and love ...a good feeling that I will take with me into my school next week.

Sai Ram
SSE Children - Nikhil and Naina Rampal aged 15 and 12 Helped by Mum

Region 1 - Merton Centre: Ladies Day

Merton Sai Centre we celebrated Ladies Day with great devotion and simplicity. The presence of our beloved Sai was felt who has declared 19th November to celebrate womanhood and He gave guidance on how to be an ideal woman. He reminds us not to forget our household duties despite being educated and working. He reminded us that our mother plays a vital role in shaping the future of her children, mother must infuse human values in her children. We should conduct ourselves in the manner to help ever and hurt never. To treat guests cordially and empathise with those who are in difficulties.

The ladies sang melodious bhajans, all the musical instruments were played by the ladies and the technical equipment was operated by the ladies including the microphones. This was followed by a DVD of a discourse given by Swami. We were transported to Kulwant Hall instantly. The devotion and love was felt by all. We finished with parsadam. Thank you to our Beloved Sai for giving us the opportunity to celebrate this day with our sisters.

Dina Rawal - Co SSE Coordinator - Merton Centre

Region 1 - Mitcham Sai Group Birthday Celebrations

Mitcham Sai Group sathsang is once a month on the last Friday of each month. Hence on Friday 28/11/2013 we lovingly observed this as a beautiful celebration of our beloved Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s 89th divine birthday.

We commenced the celebration at 07:00pm with the Chanting of Gayatri Mantra, followed by the chanting of the 108 names of our Lord’s divine lotus feet – Asthothra Padugha Namawali for which the Chair Person of Mitcham Sai – sister Sheila, who sadly lost her beloved husband a weeks back, did “Pushpanjali puja” (placing flowers 108 times at the Lotus feet for each chant) with rose flower petals. As the third line of the Namawali was chanted – a rose flower that was at the top of our beloved Swami’s large photograph fell down – indicating his loving presence and for dear sister Sheila – it was a blessing and a loving message from Swami about her late husband.

We then had well sung multi lingual Bhajan session - sung by various age groups.

This was followed by the Birthday cake cutting ceremony when all the devotees joined in happily and joyously to sing the renowned Sri Sai Birthday song – Tere Janam. All the devotees, happily invited Sister Sheila and two members of the youth to join her cut the cake - she was very emotional. This was followed with Aarthi done by all the devotees taking turns (as this is normal at our Center Bhajans) for the continued chanting of the Aarthi song, ending with Samastha Loka Suckino Bavanthu. We also observed a minute’s silence to pay our respect to late Kinglsey Gamage – the late husband of our sister Sheila.

We then had an interesting Quiz session that was conducted by a member of the Regional Youth - where simple questions about the birth of our beloved Lord and HIS physical family, including mother Easwarammah were explored, after which two winners were presented with gifts. This was followed by a very brief interactive discussion about the significance of celebrating Bhagawan Baba’s birthday each year. We had several inputs from various age groups. At the conclusion it was agreed that the best Birthday gift to our dearest Bhagawan would be the transformation of each one of us in line with the teachings of our Lord – which will automatically change our lives.

We also had the loving company of our dear brother Yogesh Swaminathan – our Regional Chair person, The Vice-Chair Rajinder Bhai and family along with Regional Service Coordinator Jay Bhai and his wife - who participated in all the proceedings of the evening and also contributed very wisely for the Quiz and interactive sessions.

The evening came to an end with prasadam being served to all the devotees.

Jai Sai Ram
Mitcham Sai Group

Region 1 - Pollards Hill Sai Centre Birthday Celebration

‘You must be thinking about the gift you have to offer Swaami on this Birthday.
You can be happy that you have given Swaami a proper gift only when you love your fellowmen, share their sufferings, and engage yourselves in serving them.
That is the only gift I wish for.
The present given to God has to be pure, steady and selfless Love.’
-Sri Sathya Sai Baba

On Saturday 22nd November, Pollards Hill Sai Centre commemorated the 89th birthday of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The celebration commenced a day earlier with multi faith prayers, Hanuman Chalisa followed by 108 Sri Sathya Sai Ashtottaram. It was a splendid evening as we joined hands together to sing the glory of our Swaami in unison. The evening continued with melodious group devotional singing; and the children gathered around the cake as everyone sang the birthday song, ‘Aaya janam din tumhara...’

The celebration concluded with Mangalam Aartai, and our regional chairman, Brother Yoges Yogendran, gave a wonderful discourse narrating anecdotes about our dearest Swami’s love and compassion for his devotees. This was a delightful way to end a lovely celebration along with Maha Prasadam.

‘Where there is FAITH, there is LOVE; Where there is LOVE; there is PEACE; Where there is PEACE; there is GOD; Where there is GOD; there is BLISS.’
-Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Sadhana Seechurn

Region 1 - SSE Training Day

16th October 2015

I attended the Basic SSE training held in Tooting Sai centre, Region 1 as an office bearer and former SSEHV trainee who had had some limited opportunities to put that training into practice. The skills have been lying dormant as there are no children in my group in Wandsworth.

I was struck firstly by the great enthusiasm and dedication of the National SSE training team and by the quality of their presentations.

They started by setting the scene in terms of the aims of the Wing, mainly based on extracts from Swami’s guidelines on the purity of the child and the profound influence of the teacher, working in tandem with the parents. The presentation on Understanding Children provided the scientific setting in terms of the intellectual, social and moral development of the child as expounded by the great child development psychologists such as Piaget and Erikson.

I recognized the 5 Values and the 5 teaching methods and they took me back to Values Summer Camps in Croydon.

For me the most interesting parts were the sessions on how to conduct each of the 5 teaching methods. The trainer covered meditation using the participants as his “children” showing the step-by-step procedure for building concentration, starting with counting backwards from 100 to the full Jyoti meditation. Excellent notes were given out.

He also covered story-telling and absolutely brought the session to life with his tips. It was obvious that he had captivated/terrified/intrigued many a Bal Vikas/SSE child over his years as a teacher.

The teaching of singing, in particular bhajans was covered. The class matched the trainer all the way and sang along heartily. The need for short pithy quotations as theme for the day was also mentioned.

But the real excitement was reserved for the afternoon when we took part in Activities. The trainers had gone to much trouble laying out extensive art materials of all types and we enjoyed making our own creations. They explained the benefits of Group Activities and we all came away proudly clutching our little masterpieces, having enjoyed the fun but very aware of all the work behind the scenes.

I had a lovely day and it certainly piqued my interest as a teacher of the 5 values but whether it will lead me back to the role of “guru” has yet to be decided!

Maureen O’Hara, Wandsworth Sai Group

Advanced SSE Training for Teachers and Parents in Region 1

On a beautiful Saturday morning of 16th October 2014 we gathered at Fircroft Primary for SSE advanced training organised by Region 1. The morning began with breakfast and warm hospitality from the Region 1committee members. We met other teachers from our region and other regions too. These events are great for networking meeting old friends and making new friends. The training commenced by singing bhajans and then we are sent to our classroom. Eagerly waiting to deliver and share their fountain of knowledge were brothers Dr Mahesh Narayan and Dr Radia. The first session was on the Group 2 stanzas of the Bhagwad Geetha included in the SSE programme and after lunch, a session on Bhaja Govindam which is also part of the SSE syllabus.

Dr Narayan entertained, inspired and taught us the meaning of each stanza and gave us entertaining stories to illustrate the essence the stanza being taught. Time flew by listening and absorbing the stories as given by Bhagavan Himself to teach a message in these sacred stanzas.

Next Dr Radia gave us an in depth insight the Bhaga Govindam and showed us some teaching techniques to use in our classes so as to highlight the relevance of these sacred chants to our everyday lives. We recited the verses of the Bhaga Govindam and some of the teachers shared their experiences and their teaching techniques. Overall the day was filled with excellent vibrations and left us refreshed and motivated to go back teach our children with much deeper understanding of our scriptures.

Finally I am grateful to Region 1 and Tooting Sai Centre for hosting this event.

Dina Rawal, SSE Coordinator
Merton Sai Centre

Region 1 - Swami’s Birthday Celebrations at Wimbledon Sai Centre

Dear Love & Light Readers,
Jai Sai Ram!

Wimbledon Sai Centre had the pleasure of celebrating our beloved Swami’s 89th Birthday on Sunday the 23rd of November at Malmesbury Primary School in Morden. Preparations for the most important day in the Sai calendar had begun weeks earlier, with the SSE children writing articles for the annual newsletter and the youth having practices for Bhajans and a presentation.

Many of the Centre members gathered at the venue on Saturday evening to set up the Altar and decorations with a lot of enthusiasm. We were also fortunate to have the support of the youth from Bromley Sai Centre and thus were able to complete the set up earlier than planned.

The Birthday Celebrations started off at 10am with Vedic Chanting, followed by Bhajans by the youth and LOTUSS students and an uplifting Jhula song by one of the Centre’s long standing members. The SSE children then rendered the beautiful ‘1926’ Birthday song and the cake cutting, and this was followed by a presentation by the youth titled ‘The Divine Legacy’. The presentation focussed on some of the major Seva projects initiated and directly overseen by Swami - Education, Medical, Water Supply and Grama Seva. These projects form the essence of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, and will continue to be so with Swami’s Grace. The Youth finished the presentation with the song ‘Aaj Tumhara Janam Divan Hey (Today is your Birthday)’ which was originally sung at Swami’s 85th Birthday in 2010 in the Divine’s physical presence.

The Celebrations were rounded off with a wonderful finish by the Guest Speaker for the Day, Brother Karthik Prashanth, former Student of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Brother Karthik shared with us some of his humbling personal experiences with Swami which only reminded us of Swami’s unconditional love and care for his children. Prasadam was distributed to more than the 100 odd devotees who joined the celebrations until Midday.

On the whole, it was a very fulfilling day! All of the above would not have been possible without Swami’s Grace. Even the persistent rain could not dampen the festive spirit amongst the devotees.

Surely, the devotees took away many happy memories and thoughts from the day, but more importantly the message that we should remember, is that our beloved Swami gives us everything we need; He is our Divine Mother, Father and Best Friend. Let us strive together and achieve the one thing he wants from us – Unconditional Love.

Jai Sai Ram!
Ragu Viswanathan - Youth Coordinator

Region 1 - Tooting Sai Centre Birthday Celebrations

On Sunday 23rd November Tooting Sai Centre celebrated our beloved Baba’s 89th birthday with a vibrant, music and drama filled programme put together by the children of SSE, Youth and Adults members. The elaborate staging, set up of the hall, practice sessions for the various performers on stage, the magnificent altar set up and the general catering arrangements had already been planned for the previous day. As this is one of two highlights of the Centre activities each year, there was an eager anticipation by the devotees as to what the programme would unfold.

We invited Swami to join us for the programme at 9.30am by commencing with the peaceful chanting of prayers, followed by the 108 Sai Ashtotharam Naamavali performed by offerings to the fire in the Havan Kund and thereafter a wonderful, uplifting selection of bhajans.

The first item on the programme was the graceful Bharata Natyam dance performances by students of our SSE; Anjaliben and Saviben
This classical dance form is one of the oldest in the India, and uses dance, music, expression and rhythm to create a piece. The dance ended with a powerful performance by Reenaben, on the Shiva Tandava, depicting the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution of life.
Next, children from SSE excitedly offered their performances to Baba.

Group 1 Year 2 reminded us the importance of following the 9 Point Code of Conduct with a catchy song they created and sang so passionately. Then Group 3 Year 2 children performed a fantastic, funny, focused play entitled My Life is My Message. This depicted verses from the Bhaja Govindam (an 8th century composition by Adi Shankara) and thankfully made them applicable to daily life, 2014! It was certainly a thought provoking piece delivered fantastically, with the very clear messages to take home for the entire audience, children, youth and adults alike. We have always found that any poignant messages from our rich historical plays become more meaningful when translated into its 'modern day' equivalent.

Shortly after this we were in for a surprise performance! Centre members, including our very own centre chair took to the stage, leading by example to perform a comedy filled drama on the devotion of young Prahlad and the Narasimha Avatar. The shock of our members seeing the elders do this play brought a howl of laughter and fun element amidst the more serious message of the play. The costumes, props and backdrop for the stage were colourful and bold, catching everyone’s attention. The audience were mesmerized by the familiar story acted out with such passion. The story finished with a dramatic powerful scene of the Lord revealing himself to Prahlad in his ferocious form of half lion half man, to destroy the evil King Hiranyakasipu.

To finish the fun filled programme we were transported to what felt like Pranshanti Nilayam’s Kulwant Hall itself, with a special song selection sung beautifully in harmony with accompaniment by the harmonium, tabla, flute and guitar. The music was blissful and uplifting, with songs picked and arranged by youth members as a tribute to Swami, in Hindi, Sanskrit and English.

The programme ended with the cake cutting carried out by the children of SSE and thereafter everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch of hot prasad. Celebrations like this serve to galvanise the Centre and strengthen the bond between Swami, Centre members and the rest of their extended families.

Jitesh Patel & Rishni Patel
Tooting Sai Centre

Region 1 – Wimbledon Sai Centre: Ladies Day Celebrations

Ladies Day was celebrated at Wimbledon Sai Centre on Sunday 16th November 2014. All programmes on this day were conducted by the lady members of the Centre. The ladies were clad in pink outfits which reminded me of one of Swami’s quotations “Make your life a rose that speaks silently in the language of fragrance. So pink is the colour of that rose.”

The programme started at 9.30am with unity prayers and Gayatri mantra followed by chanting of the 108 names of the Lord. The bajans for the day were sung by the lady devotees. The Maha Mruthanjaya Mantra was also chanted. It was concluded with Arati to Bhagavan.

The guest speaker for the day was Sister Vidyu Narayan, the current National SSE coordinator and one of Swami’s students. Sister Vidyu shared with us many unforgettable experiences with Swami. Through her stories she explained Swami’s unconditional love for every living being, the importance and power of collective prayers and how Swami responds to our call if we all pray with intense devotion. Prayer is communion with God directly, thereby strengthening and developing our relationship with Him. Immense powers and benefits are associated with prayers and have alleviated many from sickness and sufferings. Through praying we are having our own intimate conversation with our chosen deity. He listens as long as our prayers stems from the devotion within our hearts. Praying enables one to increase levels of concentration and will help us to tap into a new source of energy as we begin to focus within. It will also remind us of the Lord’s omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience.

Sister Vidyu also spoke about the importance of developing self-confidence. Often in life we face dilemmas, some of these are self-inflicted and we cause our own problems. Others are the product of circumstances around us. When we are confused with what is right and what we should do, we can turn to our conscience. Our conscience is the unfailing voice of God that guides us from within. Sister Vidyu concluded by saying that every time our conscience ‘prods us’ wait, think and follow it and we will find that the action we have taken is the most appropriate one.

Wimbledon Sai centre moved to a new location in August 2013 and many new devotees and children from the locality have joined the Centre. Sister Vidyu’s speech was enlightening to all our new parents and children.

The wonderful and beautiful Ladies Day came to a conclusion with the distribution of special prasadam lovingly prepared by the ladies.

Mrs Mallika Wimalasekera (SSE Teacher)
Wimbledon Sai Centre

Region 2 - Akhanda Bhajans

'The Alter was breath-taking and beautiful. Set up with Love and care. The colours were chosen carefully to set the mind at ease and calm. It was beautiful and befitting for the Lord. It looked just as beautiful after the 24hours.

Akhanda Bhajan – literally meaning Unbroken Bliss! And indeed what divine bliss was derived from 24 hours of uninterrupted devotional songs, not only sung with great fervour, but felt in the heart and experienced by the soul! What makes this annual event even more special is the thought that our Sai brothers and sisters all over the world are engaged in the same divine task – creating a universal web of love, peace and divine vibrations, which can only serve to uplift humanity and bring much needed peace inside and out.

Region 2 came together once more at the Oxheywood Primary School in Watford, beginning at 5:45pm on Sat 08 November with a procession which included Vedam chanting and opening prayers, followed by the first unity slot of the programme, which allowed centres from across the region to sing as one. After this, the event was well and truly underway as one centre after another delivered sublime bhajans, accompanied by some great musicians, giving devotees the perfect opportunity to be one with Swami and bathe in waves of pure ananda (bliss).

As midnight approached and another unity slot drew closer, a calm, peaceful and serene aura enveloped the venue and the bhajans took on an almost hypnotic effect, as the worries of our daily life disappeared and all that mattered in that moment was connecting to Swami and Swami alone.

The region’s spiritual and seva coordinators as well as the youth and new singers who wanted to offer their voice at Swami’s lotus feet, all sang their way into the early hours of the morning, until at 5am sharp everyone chanted the Suprabatham and once more awakened the Lord to be present with them through the next 12 hours of bhajans.

As the morning progressed, different centres continued to make their heartfelt offering as singer after singer did their utmost to please Swami and the musicians played their part in making the offering complete. Swami has often mentioned what a great opportunity it is to be able to sing bhajans. ‘Those who sing bhajans get what can be called 'double promotion,' for they derive Joy and distribute joy!’

This joy was plain to see not just for those who sang, but for those who simply had the pleasure of listening to the beautiful melodies, which were even more touching and poignant in the last few hours as the SSE Bal Vikas children offered their sweet voices to our dearest Bhagavan, followed by the SSE Gurus and the final unity slot of the programme. And what better way to finish than Swami himself singing a few bhajans as the congregation sang after him, to bring the extended 24 hour programme to an uplifting and glorious ending. Then there was a period of calm and reflection as devotees were led through the guided Jyoti Light meditation, allowing everyone to soak in the divine vibrations and spread them across the world. This was followed by mangala aarathi, vibhuti mantra, kshama prarthna and thought for the day, bringing a close to one of the most important events in the Sai calendar and purifying the heart and mind in time for Swami’s Birthday celebrations!

Swami once said: “THIS day you have resolved to imbibe Divine Bliss by reciting the Glow of God in chorus and with music, continuously for twenty-four hours. You call it akhanda bhajan, even though it will end after that period. Still, the idea is good and the programme will yield good results. For in this busy age of fear and anxiety, the remembrance of God and the repetition of His name is the one means of liberation that is accessible to all.”

How blessed we all were to have the opportunity to remember our Swami and have His name constantly on our lips, if not for the full 24 hours, then at least for part of it.'

Sai Ram
Priya Kotecha

Region 2 - Harrow West Sai Centre: Swami and Us on His 89th Birthday...

NOVEMBER... The time of year when Sai devotees in the entire world become excited, inspired, passionate and enthusiastic. Words cannot describe the emotions we go through during the birthday celebrations of our beloved Kali Yuga Avathar Sir Sathya Sai Baba !

Our journey started with having a Center meeting in the early part of October, while our Youth started their preparations in August. With Swami’s guidance, all items were discussed in detail and agreed upon at the meeting. November came with a big week-end of Global Akhanda Bhajans. The 24 hours of uplifting bhajans boosted our energy levels with our loving Master showing His presence in every possible way !

The SSE children were fully engaged with their contributions. The SSE Gurus put their love and dedication in helping the children creating cards and choreographing dance and dramas.

The Spiritual and Service teams organised and performed their tasks with love and affection.

A lot of preparation went in the day before...

Swami's Birthday Cake..

Some of the SSE children, parents and teachers met up to bake Swami around 171 Birthday cupcake and each one was hand decorated making it unique. This was another special offering to our dearest Swami on his 89th Birthday.

At 3:30pm on Swami’s Birthday, the programme started with 3 Oms, Ganapathy prarthana and all 11 Anuvakas of Sri Rudram. As the prayers were chanted with devotion, The Oxhey Wood Primary school hall filled with divine energy.

In 2010 march, our centre members made a pledge to Swami to learn and offer all 11 Anuvakas of Sri Rudram on His 85th Birthday. The pledge we made enabled us to learn and chant Sri Rudram every Friday to date – Swami has blessed us in many ways for this wonderful seva.

Melodious bhajans started after the powerful vibrations created by the Sri Rudram. Devotees took the opportunity to express their love to Swami by singing bhajans. A mixed medley was performed at the end to enhance the atmosphere.

The programme continued with the Nursery children offering their handmade cards and a rose to Swami , wishing Him Happy Birthday. Swami would have enjoyed the little children’s sweet voices.

The next item was the Shiva Shakti dance drama performed by the SSE girls, about Swami’s birth being preordained way back in the Treta Age (in Lord Rama’s time) in the life of Sage Bharadwaj. Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati conferred boons on sage Bharadwaj that they would take birth in his lineage in the Kali Yuga. Swami revealed these Truths in His discourse on Gurupurnima Day, 6th July 1963.

The SSE Boys performed a thought provoking, but hilarious drama from Swami’s Chinnakatha, giving us a valuable lesson in not to follow instructions blindly.

The Youth choir was truly blissful, having been composed and by our very talented youth. The lyrics came from their hearts to Swami and the beautiful music filled the entire atmosphere with so much love.

We felt Swami’s presence right throughout and to put the icing on the cake, HE made himself available to us on 4 different times (falling of flowers) from the beginning to the end of the program. We were all truly blessed, for him to have stayed with us for such a long time. Although nothing is impossible for Him.

The programme came towards the end with the birthday song and Arathi. Mahaprasadam was served for all the devotees, before tidying up concluded a wonderful day of celebrations.

When your heart is filled with good thoughts and feelings, all that comes out of the senses - your speech, your vision, your action - will naturally be pure. - Baba

Harrow West Sai Centre.

Region 2 - Slough Sai Centre: Birthday Celebrations

Sunday 23 November 2014

Our beloved Swami’s Birthday celebrations commenced with a powerful Ganesh bhajan which accompanied the SSE children into the hall. Each of these children carried a candle and placed this at the lotus feet of Bhagwan baba. This significance of this start to the programme was twofold, firstly to pay homage to Lord Ganesh, the remover of all obstacles and secondly to bring the eternal light to the afternoons proceedings.

The SEE children then led the unified sound of the voices to chant the Rudram filling the hall with such vibration that each and every one present felt being transported to Prashanthi Nilayam.

Following the Rudram and opening prayers the melodious bhajans commenced led by the singers and supported by a strong chorus which uplifted and energised all the devotees.

Slough Centre was greatly privileged to have Brother Divij Desai, an alumnus from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.

Brother Divij studied Physics as an undergraduate and was then instructed by Swami to study for an MBA. Many devotees recognised Brother Divij as one of the uniquely privileged boys who pushed Swami’s chair during Darshan.

Brother Divij shared many experiences of the tender Love and care with which Swami had guided him and how through his intensity of devotion Swami had allowed him proximity as a personal attendant. Brother Divij also spoke about the importance of seva and how this should be done from the heart in a loving manner. There should be no ego attached to seva because the reality is that seva is done to better oneself and not to gain publicity. One should not see seva as an act of doing and a chore rather one should consider himself fortunate to be given the opportunity to serve and fulfil the purpose of mankind’s role in this world which is to serve with love.

Brother Divij concluded his talk by asking the entire congregation to join him in making a solemn oath that on this auspicious day each and everyone will seva with love and full devotion. This oath was placed at the lotus feet of Bhagwan and blessings were sought from the Lord to help us meet this oath.

Following the talk a short video presentation of gram seva was played, Slough centre has witnessed an increased number of new devotees over the year and this was an opportunity to share some of Bhagwan’ s seva projects and how his divine organisation wants us to take his message forward.

The birthday programme continued with a musical item from three renowned artists, namely Balu Raguraman (violin), Subathra Raguraman (veena) and Thanujen Chandrakumar (mridangamthe). Slough centre was blessed to have the opportunity to listen to such enchanting melodies from such dedicated and talented individuals.

The musical item led us beautifully into the birthday song and the cake cutting ceremony. As is the tradition at the centre, the cake was brought into the hall by the SSE children who then blew out the candles and cut the cake. The birthday celebration ended with Mangala Aarthi followed by Maha Prasadham.

The birthday programme was one of the best in recent years and capacity in the hall reached 170 which paid tribute to the hard work and dedication that was put into organising the event by all the active volunteers.

This successful event epitomised the theme of the day which was “Service to Mankind is Service to God”

Region 2 - SSE Akhanda Bhajans: SSE Blossoming of Human Excellence

With the Divine Grace and Blessings of Swami, Region 2 Akhanda Bhajans commenced on Saturday 8th November at 6PM. The programme began with a Procession, a Conch was blown to mark the beginning of the programme, the Poorna Kumbam was carried by a Sai Devotee; followed by the SSE children carrying Ganesh Moorthy and Swami's paduka, All the devotees followed SSE children into the main hall. Poorna kumbam, moorthy & padukas were placed at the altar. SSE children then joined the youth to conclude the rest of the prayers.

Around 60 SSE Children and 30 Teachers & Parents Helpers presented their loving thoughts and feelings on what Swami meant to them by offering their service through devotional singing, playing their instruments and chanting the prayers.

The children filled the hall with vibration of 'Pure Love' when they sang their hearts out. Prior to the event, SSE children, parents, teachers and centre members conducted practice sessions locally and came together as 'One Family of Sai' at the regional practice where they were given an opportunity to participate in group devotional singing, practice their musical instruments and also to enhance their skills on chanting the prayers.

As always, we are only his instruments and the final outcome is as per his will. We felt Swami's presence right throughout the SSE session and know that he was very pleased with the beautiful demonstration of SSE's hard work and talent in Region Two.

The session was very well coordinated with the effort of Gurus, youth and the parents! Of course, without Swami managing the process it would not be possible to achieve the high standard that was very evident during the Akhand bhajan weekend. The event was a wonderful opportunity for all of us.

Children of all age to come together to pray and share the blessing of being in the light of Swami. This truly was a beautiful and blissful weekend! Thank you Swami!. More of the same next year please.

Written by Sairatha Nimalathevan (Parent)

Region 2 - SSE The Great Diwali Bake Off

19th October 2014

“Hands That Help are Holier than the Lips that Pray” Baba.

As part of the Global Service Project, a group of SSE Teachers, Parents and Children got together on Sunday 19th October to freshly make and deliver Diwali food for our local Elderly Care Home. About 30 adults and children came to our house and had lots of fun in making around 750 pieces of 4 different type of Diwali food. The day started off with prayers and each child sang a bhajan as an offering to our Dearest Swami and for Baba to remain with us and help us in achieving this great service task. Firstly all the Adults and children were sorted into small task team.

We had lots of parents and teachers to help and guide us. We cleaned our hands before we were let lose in getting on in making our special Diwali food. Messages were given out “Ready, Steady, Cook!” and the cooking began.

All the children started by making 150 coconut and jam biscuits. First we greased the baking trays then using the coconut and jam biscuit mix, we moulded it into a squashed sphere. Each child then placed the squashed spheres on the greased baking trays, keeping it about an inch apart from each other. Then, using the edge of a small spoon, we made a small cross on them before the adults placed it into the oven.

Once the coconut and jam biscuits came out of the oven and had cooled down, the children decorated them in (of course) coconut and jam. They placed the jam and sprinkled desiccated coconut on top of the jam.

The adults were making ghugaras (pronounced ghu-ga-ras). First they rolled out the pastry into a circle and filled that with crushed nuts, roasted semolina and sugar. That was then beautifully sealed with a twist and made ready to fry it later. The adults with the help of our older brothers and sister made around 500 ghugaras throughout the day.

After that everybody took a break and had a Sai Family lunch. Before we sat down the food prayer and a poem was recited. For lunch there was a MASSIVE selection of food to choose from. There was homemade pizza, homemade sandwiches and even a homemade cake! (The homemade cake was for Asha aunty because it was her birthday).

After we filled our appetite, the children continued with the next task of making coconut balls with Asha aunty. First we poured desiccated coconut into a basin along with a tin of condensed milk. Asha aunty helped us mix it all together and then the children started making the coconut balls.

We made different coloured batches of coconut balls e.g. orange, yellow, red and ruby and some with sprinkles of coco powder. We all had lots of fun making the coconut balls as we were able to get our hands all sticky and covered in different colour food ink. It was really easy and great fun filled activity.

Towards the end, everybody helped make ghugaras including the children. Bharat uncle showed us how to make the twist in the ghugahas. And throughout the activities we all sang lots of bhajans one after the other, it was like Akhand Bhajans non-stop.

I had a wonderful day and everybody else did too, BABA had blessed us to have a wonderful day and we did.

Written by Nishika Thaker Aged 11.

Diwali Poem

Written by Nishika Thaker (Ages 11).

When the doors are decorated,
And the lanterns are lit,
And when the house wears its finest clothes,
That’s when we all will celebrate DIWALI

When the house is bursting with people,
And the children shriek in delight,
And when the sweet and savoury traditional are made,
That’s when we all will celebrate DIWALI

When our enemy, the dark nights come by,
And the fireworks light the sky,
And when our fears are all gone,
That’s when we all will celebrate DIWALI

When there’s paper everywhere,
And the children play with their gifts,
And when the gifts are offered to the Gods,
That’s when we all will celebrate DIWALI

When the chatter, laughter and noise is made,
And the air is so pleasant,
And when nobody can wait any longer...
That’s when we all will really celebrate DIWALI
Happy DIWALI to you and your family!

Jai Sai Ram.

Region 3 - Re-SAIcycling and More: Akhanda Bhajans Go Green

The akhanda bhajan is for global welfare – that is to say – the welfare of all beings, the environment and elements that co-exist in this vast web of life. Indeed one could be forgiven for saying that all Sai events and all our activities too, ought in spirit to carry something of that noble motif. It is easy though to lose sight of this. For one, the world is a big place, and a duty of care seems an obscenely onerous mandate to vest on any humble devotee. After all, doesn’t the singing of the holy name; a heartfelt prayer; or service to the needy, absolve one of further responsibility to the world?

All of this is important no doubt. Global welfare necessitates all of these things, but it is also a lot more. That means – extending our circle of concern to things more subtle and bringing awareness into everything we do – from how and what we buy, eat, wear, travel, or anything else for that matter. Whether we like it or not, every act is intimately woven into the fabric of the world. Everything depends on everything else – be it the natural resources we depend on, fellow creatures or human beings locked in the global economy – all are involved in supporting our existence. No man is an island entire of itself. The spiritual activities we engage in and the sacred vibrations we generate fall short, if not accompanied by direct action; especially where we have the power and information to effect change. Every action has a consequence. Our duty as souls on this earthly sojourn is to tread as lightly and as consciously as we can. This is more important now than ever, because Mother Earth is hurting.

There are more of us on this planet than ever before and we are buying, consuming and disposing more rapaciously than all the previous generations put together. All of this uses scarce energy resources and contributes to climate change; but less known and more insidious is that virtually everything we buy contains toxic chemicals – from the pesticides used in almost all the food we eat, to the harsh chemicals embodied in cosmetics, detergents and plastics – this includes all the disposable cups and plates that have so pliantly withstood the weight of tiffin at many a Sai event. Most of these chemicals will ultimately leach into our soils and waterways, poisoning the earth. Worse still, all chemicals are tested on animals in unimaginably cruel experiments, before they are commercialised. The wounds we are inflicting on nature are manifold, and evident all around.

It is a sad contradiction that we can sing in the house of God whilst dumping our muck in his garden. We can no longer afford to sit back. Even if we are slow to make changes to our day to day lives, it is doubly important that the Sai Organisation promotes sustainability in all its events and activities and leads by example. To that end, this year for akhand bhajan, special effort was made by some centres in Region 3 (East London) to make the day as environmentally friendly and ethical as possible. Cups, plates and spoons were sourced sustainably from special vendors, made entirely from natural materials without any toxic chemicals. When eventually thrown (after recycling), they will also rot naturally and not linger in the environment for thousands of years like standard plastics.

Special consideration was also given to waste. The reality is that we are living in a throwaway society. But in truth, there is no such place as ‘away’. Everywhere is planet home. It may come as a revelation but the word disposable does not confer on one a legal duty to discard anything after a single use. That is why particular care was taken to wash and reuse disposable cups and spoons where possible, to minimise our impact on the environment. Designated bins were set up to separate all rubbish for reuse, recycling and composting, with a small, proficient squad of SSE children also helping to police the bins.

Careful thought was also given to the food served on the day. We can all vote for the kind of world we want to live in by choosing to buy food that is produced in harmony with nature. Where it was within the control of the organisers, food for the event was sourced locally from organic suppliers, with freshness, nutrition and ethics in mind. This included prime apples picked in Kent and salads from a community farm on the edge of London. Animal products, including dairy were also restricted. The time has come that we as Sai devotees gradually move beyond abstinence of meat alone. All animal products today are laden with cruelty. Exploitation and suffering is pervasive in almost all modern systems of animal husbandry.

These are all small steps. Much more can be done if only we decide to place more care and attention on these issues. After all, if we can invest time in the choice of bhajans; the precise permutation of fabrics to adorn the altar; or the optimal colour of the floral arrangements; then frankly we can think about sustainability too. Let us start now – the Sri Sathya Sai Service Sustainability Initiative perhaps (SSSSSI – an affable acronym to stand unabashedly amongst all the others we know and love!)

I have a dream that one day the success of Sai events will not just be measured by the opulence of the altar, nor the sincerity of the singing or speaking, but by the content of the bins. I have a dream today.

Region 3 - Rudram Ekadashi Programme

6th of September 2014

Aum Sri Sai Ram

With Swami’s Divine grace and abundant blessings, the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London had the privilege to host the Rudram Ekadashi Programme on 5th of October 2014. Around 100 participants from various centres from Region 3 of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation of UK attended this event.

Swami says, “Chanting Rudra Namakam and Chamakam with sincere devotion to Lord Shiva will be highly helpful to restore the Nature’s rhythm of natural seasons, reducing environmental pollution and damage, fighting evil forces, preserving the natural equilibrium; and providing welfare of humanity and world peace”(Divine Discourse, August 2006).

Ekadashi is the 11th Lunar day of a Lunar month. Rudra Ekadashini refers to the chanting of the first eleven Anuvakas of Namakam, followed by the Anuvakam of Chamakam, starting with the first Anuvakam in the first round and then the second Anuvakam in the second round and continuing. Thus, in the second round, the 11 Anuvakas of Namakam is followed by the second Anuvaka of Chamakam and in the third round the 11 Anuvakas of Namakam is followed by the third Anuvaka of the Chamakam and so on. This process is repeated 11 times until the 11 Anuvaka of Namakam followed by full chanting of Chamakam is completed.

Preparations for this auspicious day started in the early hours of the morning and by 7.30 am guests started arriving. The priest who presided over the function arrived soon afterwards and got busy with the setting up of the puja/abhishekam. Various condiments required for the Abishekam were arranged aesthetically on the makeshift altar (banana leaves covered in thick layer of rice and same adorned by several kalash. Coconuts were prepared – ready to be offered). Fresh fragrant flowers garlanded Swami’s pictures and His Holy Chair. The puja started once all the preparations were completed.

For this event, as per the priest’s instructions, husband and wife couples from centres of region 3 participated in the puja. Once the auspicious time began, the priests called upon each couple that had pre-registered to take part in the Abhishekam to come forward and take their seats at the altar while he chanted incantations and instructed them to follow simple Hindu rituals. This was followed by the chanting of the Rudra Namakam while the priests performed the Abhishekam on the Lingam. A group of very talented people, young and old, chanted the Rudra Namankam and Chamakam with great vigor and passion. Together they created heavenly mood and vibrations in the hall. This uplifted the spirits of all the participants.

A number of condiments were used for performing the actual Abhishekam. Each of these has a special significance. For example, Panchamrith for wealth, ghee for moksha, cow’s milk for longevity of life, honey for enhancement of musical talents, sugarcane juice for ever bliss etc. For each round of Abhishekam that was completed, Aarthi was offered and Prasad was distributed to the couples. This holy ritual went on for 30 couples. Towards the end, the volunteers and youth also got an opportunity to participate in the puja.

The Purnahuti – meaning “the complete offering away of oneself”, marked the end of the Rudram Ekadashi Homam/Abhishekam. Final offerings in the form of milk were given to the Lord Shiva. Swami describes Purnahuti as “total sacrifice” – it is the moment when one must give up ego and worldly passions and surrender to the Lord himself (Source: Sathya Sai with Students). Bhajans in praise of Lord Shiva and Sathya Sai Baba were sung. The programme concluded at 2.00 pm. Holy water was sprinkled on all the devotees as blessings. As per custom, Prasad (holy food), which included the Panchamirth used in the Abhiskeham, savouries and sweets, were offered to Swami and to all the devotees present.

The meticulous and holy rituals of performing the Abhishekam whilst simultaneously chanting the Rudra Namakam brought the hall to life, echoed divine vibrations throughout and lifted everyone’s spirits. The positive vibrations in the Centre on that day surely stayed on with everyone who attended. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.

We are eternally grateful to Swami for making this event possible and for gracing us with His Divine and loving presence. Central London Sai Centre Youth team.

Region 4 - Coventry and Rugby Sai Centre: Global Service Day 2014

With Baba's grace on Sunday 20th July 2014, Coventry and Rugby Sai Centres had the fortunate opportunity to hold a 'Global Service Day' event for the Elderly and Disabled. This year's event was held at Buddenhall village hall, Warwickshire. Swami had kindly answered our prayers in that this year's event was on a beautiful sunny day.

Global Service Day was an excellent opportunity for volunteers from Coventry & Rugby Sai Centres and those of different faiths and backgrounds to serve over 100 people in their local community in a humble and loving manner. For our guests it was an excellent opportunity for them to enjoy the fun activities, entertainment, delicious food and one another's company.

Baba says very beautifully that we should "Love all Serve all" and that "Service to Man is Service to God".

Preparations for this year's event had naturally began months in advance of this date. On the day volunteers had arrived early to help with set up of tents/gazebos, seating, food preparation and general set up. To sanctify the event and work three Omkars were recited by volunteers.

Our guests were warmly welcomed by volunteers as they arrived in specially arranged minibuses just after noon. With love they were assisted to their programme seats. They were then served biscuits, tea and coffee. Throughout the event volunteers were ever ready and willing to serve guests and ensure that they enjoyed the programme. They were very much made to feel loved. Volunteers worked together as one and all wore a neck scarf which had previously been worn during a Sadhana trip to Prasanthi Nilayam, India.

With everyone seated comfortably this year's Global Service Day programme commenced at 2pm with a welcome greeting by the master of ceremonies.

The first item of the day was two Bharat Natyam dances. These were performed by a pair of primary school girls, Shyaami and Amrita aged 10 and 7. Bharat Natyam is a classical south Indian dance and is performed with Carnatic music. The first dance was an offering to Lord Ganesh whilst the second dance was a padam praising Sarawathi Matha. The girls were beautifully dressed and performed with real confidence. It was a privilege and honour for all in the audience to have experienced such talented performances.

The next item that followed was a local community choir from Coventry called 'Singing City Choir'. The choir sung a number of well-known songs, which the guests and volunteers happily sung together, harmoniously as one. There were group as well as exceptionally talented solo performances. It was a joy for the audience to listen to the high and low notes sung. 'Singing City Choir' were skilfully conducted by Elona. They also performed later in the programme.

There after there were group songs by Coventry and Rugby Sai Centre SSE children, Gurus and youth. Everyone including our guests sang joyfully to "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" and "Singing I Yi Yippee Yippee I".

The final performance before the food break was a singing and music medley by Ian King. So for the music lover this was a real treat. Ian has been part of Global Service Day for many years and his act is very much a cue for the audience, volunteers and everyone to take part in some dancing on stage.

This active session had very much prepared everyone's appetite for lunch. A range of hearty food including sandwiches, cakes, fruit, samosas, papri gathia, and potato poha, had been very kindly prepared for guests and volunteers.

The City of Coventry's very own Lady Godiva entrusted to Pru Poretta, was also present during the lunch break. Her presence and radiant smile delighted guests and volunteers.

The delicious food break was then followed by another brilliant performance by the 'Singing City Choir'. This was followed by a short talk in English and in Guajarati on the story of Lady Godiva. Our special guest Pru Poretta (Lady Godiva) also gave a talk. The voluntary work conducted by Pru in today's times is fitting of the compassion and noble character of medieval Lady Godiva.

The next item was a fun game of Bingo. It was great to see volunteers help our guests spot number patterns on their Bingo sheets. The Bingo callers Mike, Rupert and Niruben did a great job in calling out numbers and the witty Bingo catch phrases.

The penultimate and final items of the day was another singing and music medley by Ian King and a Garba dance. Garba is a traditional North Indian dance from the state of Gujarat. The dance signifies the Hindu faith of moving time and reincarnation. Guests and volunteers joyfully circled around the centre of the stage.

Global Service Day 2014 had come to a close. Before everyone departed a vote of thanks was given. Thanking all the performers and volunteers for their participation and help in this year's fantastic event. We thank our guests in making this year's event such a wonderful experience.

Below is feedback on this year's Global Service Day event from Bond's Court & Hospital, Coventry.

"Residents, who had not been before, were full of praise for your kindness and consideration towards everyone. The food and dancing were greatly enjoyed. Of course, the lovely weather added to the enjoyment. We, as an organization, greatly appreciate the amount of work you put into giving everyone a day to remember. I hope you are all able to have a well-earned rest".

We are truly indebted to Swami for giving us the strength to serve and the opportunity to love selflessly at this year's Global Service Day event.

Baba says: "Every deed performed, do it in My Name. Every person who passes near your path give them the sweetness of your smile. Give freely of the nectar of your cup of happiness, of kindness, of Blissfulness. Give the warmth of your love. Extend your hand as I extend Mine to you".

Jai Sai Ram,
Coventry & Rugby Sai Youth.

Region 4 - Leicester Akhand Bhajans: Sing for Harmony

Swami has placed great emphasis on chanting the Lord’s Name during the present Kali Yuga. Why is this? Swami has told us that “The Name promotes comradeship and establishes concord; it stills all storms and grants peace.” Hence, the Global Akhand Bhajans were conducted across the world from Saturday 8th November to Sunday 9th November 2014. These were completed, not for the benefit of a single person, country or community, but rather for the welfare of humanity in its entirety.

Leicester devotees were graced with the opportunity to organise and participate in Akhand Bhajans during the auspicious weekend. Held at Abbey Primary School, the theme for the past two years has been “Sing for Harmony”. This theme we hoped would generate a sense of unity across all communities - regardless of religion, race and language.

The bhajans commenced at 12.30pm on the Saturday with a selection of multi-faith prayers: Hindu; Muslim; Christian; Sikh and Jain. Bhajans followed in full power. From the young SSE students to the respected elderly, everyone was given the opportunity to offer their flower of divine bhajan at the lotus feet of our beloved Lord.

Throughout the 24 hours we were joined by a number of different local faith groups including, the Leicester Jain Centre; Clarendon Park Mosque; "Kathiywadi Gujarati bhajans" by Prabhudasbhai Suchak’s Group; Namdhari Sikh Community; Leicester Sikh Group and Leicester Buddhist Vihara Centre. This coming together truly epitomised the ideal of Unity in Diversity. It did not matter that we had different beliefs, ideas, languages, practices. What did matter though was that every individual was present to Sing for Harmony.

Bhajans continued all through the night, generating divine energies that allowed us to keep on going. What is perhaps a beautiful element about Akhanda Bhajans is that those devotees who do not normally sing, plucked up the courage and offered their song to the Lord.

At 5am on Sunday, the devotees, with a heart touched by the vibrations of the night, tried to awaken the Lord though chanting 21 Aumkars and Suprabhatam. After 24 hours of soulful singing, the bhajans came to a close at 12.30pm on the Sunday, followed by Aarti.

Just think, it truly is a spectacle to imagine that 24 hours of singing God’s glory was conducted from as East as Australia to as West as California. Such a phenomenon can only be the will of the Lord. But why is it important to sing bhajans in a group? When a myriad of voices join together to sing the divine name, the pinnacle of unity is reached and an endless flow of divine vibrations are conjured to purify the environment in which we live.

We, with all humility, offer our gratitude to Swami for allowing us to conduct such an event and hope he continues to permit us to work towards the ideal of true harmony in society.

Needless to say, whilst the Akhanda Bhajans of 2014 have concluded, Swami tells us that Akhanda Bhajans “should not be just a twenty-four hour affair or even a seven-day affair; it must go on, from birth to death, this contemplation of the Source and Goal of things.” Hence, Swami reminds us that we must incessantly have the Lord’s name in our thoughts and on our lips, for he is undoubtedly our very beginning and our ultimate destination.

Sai Ram
Dixa Thakrar
Youth Wing, Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Leicester

Region 5 - Akhanda Bhajans

Akhanda bhajans was organised in Leeds on 9th November from 8.00 am to 6 pm by Swami`s grace.

The bhajans started with Vedam chanting in the morning. The region has been inviting various faith groups from the community to participate in the bhajans since 2012. The initiative has been a big success with many faith groups sharing their happiness in being a part of this blessed sathsang. This year we had groups from the Hindu Faith (Leeds Hindu Mandir Group), Bahai Faith Group, Christian United Harmonies Group and the Sikh Group offering their prayers through music on the day.

Different centres had practised unison bhajans which were sung with intense fervour for Bhagawan. SSE groups also had specific slots during the day to encourage the children singing at the sathsang.
The programme finished with Arati to our beloved Bhagawan and prasad.

Kailash Venkat
Region 5 Chair

Region 5 - Birthday Celebrations

Our beloved Bhagawan`s birthday was celebrated at Bolton on 23rd November 2014 with great enthusiasm and devotion. The altar was most beautifully decorated by a dedicated Altar Team who had a Jhula (Swing) for Swami in the middle. The theme for the day was “One with Sai” which was the theme for all our sathsangs this year.

The celebrations started with Vedam chanting (One with Sai through Vedam initiative). Every centre had taken up learning one Vedic hymn this year and they most humbly offered it at the Lotus Feet on His birthday. The initiative has restarted Vedam learning and classes in the Region after a few years.

The day had 3 beautiful offerings from the Region 5 SSE group (One with Sai through SSE). The first one was on “Motherhood” by the Warrington SSE children. The second programme was a play on “Ramayana” by the Halifax SSE group. The third was a play on “An episode from the Avatar`s life” by the Manchester SSE children. All three programmes were a delight to the audience. The dedication and enthusiasm of children, SSE gurus and the parents were highly commendable. There was so much thought put into the costumes, acting and delivery of the items by them.

The guest speaker for the day was Dr Nishith Patel from London. He delighted the audience with his simple and sincere talk. He started off by saying that One with Sai is nothing but “building a relationship with Bhagawan”. He shared many incidents as an SSE alumnus age and also from his family to substantiate how Swami responds as soon as you treat Him as your own. He said how Swami sees you in the same manner as we see Him. He gave many examples of how he treated Swami as a friend and how Swami responded to Him with all His love every time.

We also had the pleasure of having Mr Sairam Iyer, a prolific singer from Mumbai, India on the day. Mr Iyer's performance delighted them with a mix of classical devotional songs and Sai bhajans.

The celebrations also witnessed a beautiful and colourful dance on the Goddess (Gharbha style dance) by the Bolton sisters group. We also inaugurated a “Spiritual poetry Darbar” with the Region 5 poets sharing some of their spiritual poems for us on the day.

Regional chair also announced two important service projects on the day- BabySai project and the Vastradhaan Project to commenmorate the “One with Sai through Service” initiative. He also mentioned that the “Pret a Manger” initiative has become highly successful with groups in Leeds and Manchester organising it every week. Leeds had so far shared sandwiches worth £5400 this year from Pret to St Georges Crypt which feed the homelss people. Manchester (which serves the homeless through the Chaplaincy) also donated a fridge and freezer to them for the sandwiches in November.

Whilst the devotees thought that this cant get better, the Region 5 Music team came up with a beautiful Qawwali performance (One with Sai through Music). Popular Qawwalis including Allah Hoo, Haji Ali, Sai Bhakton Ki Saji Mehfil , Sai Bin Raha Na Jaaye and Shirdiwale Sai Baba were rendered beautifully by the team. Each centre had practised one Qawwali each and the enthusiasm was imminent in every song. It was received with thunderous applause from the devotees.

After thanking every devotee who worked hard for the sathsang (Vote of Thanks), we had soulful bhajans and arati. All the children were brought to the stage and given a small token of love for their participation. They all stayed together to cut a specially designed cake for our beloved Bhagawan amidst glitters. Devotees did not want to leave the venue after such a lovely day. They left taking Bhagawan in their hearts wishing each other and Bhagawan “Happy Birthday”.

Kailash Venkat
Region 5 Chair

Region 5 - Laksharchana at Preston

Swami`s Laksharchana was organised at Preston on19th October 2014 to mark the celebrations of the Avatar Declaration Day.

This was a long awaited regional sathsang in Preston since the previous sathsang was organised way back in 1987. Devotees came in large numbers to enjoy the vibrations. Mr Vadgama came all the way from London to organise the sathsang. The day started with a procession amidst Vedam chanting when the blessed padhukas and the kalash were brought to the stage by devotees. Bhajans followed the Vedam which led to the Laksharchana prayers. The name of our beloved Bhagawan was taken 100000 times on the day and the whole hall was reverberating with Divine vibrations.

Dr Veerabhadra Rao (National Vice Chair) came as the guest speaker for the sathsang. The 250-300 devotees were left contemplating on Bhagawan after his talk. He emphasised on “what is the lakshya (goal) of the Laksharchana”. He said that namasmarana is the means of attaining happiness. He mentioned that “True happiness is union with God”. He reiterated the fact that we should not limit the Laksharchana to just that day at that venue. We should instead make sure that our whole life is a constant laksharchana. We should live in contemplation of the Divine every second of our life.

The laksharchana was viewed by devotees from various countries through live streaming. Devotees from Lithuania joined the laksharchana through the live streaming and chanted the name by using a screen at their end.

The entire region also participated in the National Service Project during the same weekend by delivering packs of items to Refuge UK (an Organisation which works with children who have been affected by domestic violence).

Kailash Venkat
Region 5 Chair

Region 5 - Leeds Birthday Celebrations

Leeds celebrated Bhagawan`s birthday on the 22nd November 2014 with great devotion and enthusiasm. The program started with the Balvikaas students doing a poem, then led up to Bhajans for the first hour. We then watched a 13 minute video clip of Baba/s discourse on life and finished the second part of the bhajans with Aarti and cake cutting by the Kids.

Live streaming was tried for the first time in Leeds which proved successful in the sathsang. There were about 50 devotees who turned up, as well as several others watching through the livestream from around the UK,Mauritius,Kenya,Australia,America,Germany and Holland.

Amish Hurree
Vice Chair, Leeds Sai Group

Region 6 - Brighton & Hove Group: Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Birthday Celebration

Devotees attending the Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Birthday Celebration of the Brighton & Hove group at The Church of The Good Shepherd on Sunday afternoon 23rd November were able to enjoy a programme that not only included bhajans and Vedic chanting but by the Grace of Swami, were also treated to a short talk by Mr. Anil Kumar and Mr. Sri Harsha who are graduates of the Sri Sathya Sai University (formerly the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning). They enchanted the listeners assembled with a rendition of the Vedic chant the Puruusha Suuktam, which to summarize means to undertake everything in Praise of God. Praise his greatness, uniqueness, glory, vastness and splendour.

Baba has previously stated that man, society, nature and God are all interlinked, inter-connected, inter-dependent and inter-related and that the famous Gita verse—Brahmaarpanam also explains the relevance of this Vedic chant.

‘Transformation’ was the theme of the two friends talk. Mr. Anil Kumar went on to explain that he had not been a follower of Sri Sathya Sai Baba until he had joined the college. He told us all that not only had he been transformed by coming into the Swami’s orbit and by seeing the way in which Baba, the master of time, had accomplished all these mammoth tasks whilst He seemingly still patiently carried on with the daily routines in the ashram and with the care of the students of the college in detail. Anil also told us how he had witnessed the transformation in the lives of workers involved in some of the big humanitarian projects that Bhagavan had undertaken at the time. Such as the project to provide clean drinking water to the people of Andhra Pradesh. Many of the people involved had previously not specifically followed the spiritual teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba but nevertheless they had put duty and work first, oftentimes going out their way to facilitate an aspect of a project expeditiously and miraculously they experienced their family lives being benefited in unexpected ways.

Mr. Sri Harsha on the other hand came from a Hindu family that were already devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and that Sri Harsha’s mother often arranged bhajans in praise of Baba but that his father always made an excuse not to attend by pleading that his work commitments would keep him away. Even when Mr. Sri Harsha joined Baba’s college, his father was too busy to accompany him and go to Darshan. One day his dad was forced to attend the ashram for his company on business and so did go along to Darshan. Baba came up to him during His walkabout and simply said to him, “ Work Is Worship”. From that moment onward Sri Harish’s dad became an ardent devotee!

Anil Kumar summed up his talk by saying that, “All of us, are blessed to be born in this period, giving each of us an opportunity to know about HIS mission and be part of the same.” He also went on to remark that although not everybody can actively engage themselves physically in some of these big projects but that if we all only sincerely put into action, in our thoughts and prayers as well as following through with our deeds, Baba’s motto ‘Love All – Serve All, Help Ever- Hurt Never’, we shall all surely reach HIS feet! Many thanks to Mr. Anil Kumar, Mr. Sri Harsha for sharing their experiences with the group and also to everyone that came to the party and participated in making the afternoon so enjoyable!

Sai Ram,
Nicola Johnson.

Region 6 - Farnborough Sai Centre: Birthday Celebrations

On Sunday, 23rd November, Farnborough Sai Centre held a lovely birthday event for Swami. About 200 people attended. Sushma Gurung welcomed everyone and the programme started with the prayer: “Vakratunda”. The SSE children then laid flowers at Swami's lotus feet. Seven bhajans followed. Then the SSE children performed a play, “Nature is the Greatest Teacher”. After that, they sang “I'd like to teach the world to sing”.

Two famous Nepalese singers, Manila and Uday Sotang, happened to be there and treated us to some beautiful singing, singing two bhajans. Dr Mahesh Narayan, our Regional Chair, then gave a lively and pertinent talk, including the children with questions, on what Baba expects of us and telling memorable stories to illustrate this. This was followed by the cake cutting ceremony performed by the SSE children and the programme was concluded with nine bhajans.

As usual, it was a very happy occasion, made possible by the warmth, hospitality and hard work of the Farnborough Sai devotees.

Region 6 - Roschester Sai Centre Birthday Celebrations

This was planned to be a fully loaded celebration program. The celebration began with start of Swami’s Darshan music, a procession by Bal Vikas Children carrying Baba’s Paduka, offering of betel leaf with flower and rice, all presented to swami’s lotus feet at the Aashan.

The Children performed prayer and Slokas learned in their classes and unison bhajan.
After the Children commenced programme, the Vedam chanting was performed followed by Sri Sathya Sai Ashtottara Namawali.

Wonderful uplifting 9 bhajans sang by the centre members accompanied with Harmonium, Dholak, Tabla.

After the devotional singing, a various performance was done the Bal Vikas children. Harmonium and Dholak to two bhajans “love is my Form” and “I keep feeling your love”

The children also recited poem and group 1 children performed dance to “ Tuhi ho Mata”. The Group 2 children presented a wonderful play titled “Do not tell lies even for fun!”

The Children performance was followed by an inspirational speech by our guest speaker and our Regional Chair Dr Mahesh Narayan, who presented us some old pictures of Swami in his younger days and shared his own experiences . Whilst we were listening to Dr Mahesh, we felt as if we were there with Swami freely mingling with all devotes. The message of sharing and giving came loud and clear. Share the Love, Share Good experiences, Give generously so left hand does not know what right hand gave and share within your means.

This was followed by beautiful devotional dance performance by a very talented young girl -Surya Titled “Udduraja Mukhi” a Malayalam song defining the Beauty of Goddess Lakshmi.

There are no birthday celebration without cutting a cake so after doing Jhoola ceremony with the Advent of Sai and “ Jhoolana Jhulaye”, Cake was cut by the children and Dr Mahesh.

The program was concluded with Mangala Arathi (plates decorated by children)

After Mangala Arathi, Prasadam was distributed and consumed.

The centre would like to thank all those who attended the celebration.

In Loving Sai Service
Mani ChairPerson
Rochester Sai Centre

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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.