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Love and Light

Christmas Carols at the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London

A SSE Student’s Experiences

As part of our 2014 Christmas celebrations, we at the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London sang Christmas carols on three occasions: firstly at our monthly gathering for Narayan Seva with our guests (most of whom are homeless); secondly during bhajans with all the Centre’s devotees; and thirdly at a care home for the elderly in Westminster.

Before the Christmas celebrations, I, along with Bhavesh, Daren, Irene, Maria, Philip, Nikita, Pratistha, Sachin, Sanjay and Shaye (my talented brother!) met at Sanjay’s house every Saturday in December to practise singing the carols. It was hard work but good fun and, during the breaks, Sanjay and his mum served us exceptional Gujrati chai! There was also an additional practice held one Sunday at the centre, where Cliff, Geeta, Lourdes, Usha and Vidya also joined in. In all of these practices, we revised all of the carols, some of which were ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Silent Night’.

On Sunday 21st December, we sang the carols to the guests that came to the Centre for their monthly meal with us at Narayan Seva. Many of the guests thoroughly enjoyed the carols: some were swinging their arms in enjoyment; others were singing along with us!

Afterwards, during the afternoon, we sang the carols with devotees at the Centre during Bhajans, along with Bible readings, Swami’s quotes, bhajans and prayers. It was soooo much fun! The energy in the hall could be felt and it made me feel in a festive spirit. Some of the SSE students – Aryan, Deepesh, Jaimeet, Nelisha, Sophie, William and I - sang ‘Little Donkey’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ to the devotees, after practices with Nimah (our SSE teacher) Philip (Christmas programme co-ordinator), Irene (Excellent Supervisor) and Nirmal (Co-Excellent Supervisor!).

Moreover, during Silent Night, the SSE students then placed lanterns at the special altar made for Jesus. Dana Gillespie also joined us for the carols, leading us in the beautiful carol, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. After the Aarti (which we sang on this occasion in both Sanskrit and in English) and Philip’s brilliant discourse, Bhavesh then became Santa Claus, so to say, and he gave out gifts to the SSE students (including me!).

On the following Wednesday, Christmas Eve, many of the group (plus Gowri, her little son Devdan, and her friend Anna) also went to an elderly home in Westminster and sang carols to the residents. I am told it was also very enjoyable. Many of the residents joined in with the singing, and all the carol singers then joined the residents for tea and mince pies … and to have a good chat!

Finally, I would like to say that we (every singer, instrument player, and SSE student) thoroughly enjoyed ourselves from the very beginning to the very last moment and to be honest, we wished it never ended and we were very sad but proud when it did! And we also hope that everyone listening enjoyed it all as much as we did!

Nirina Chinegadoo
SSE Student
Sri Satya Sai Centre of Central London