For the Satsang Seva Mission team, the first week of November 2021 was extra special. It brought together twin occasions of joyous celebration after two years of being engulfed by the darkness of a global pandemic. On November 4th, light and laughter was to herald the dispersal of despair with Deepawali and on November 6th, SSM celebrated the birth anniversary of the helmsman who expertly steered us through the stormy seas that threatened to drown the world as we knew it.
Born on 6th November 1949, Sri M’s birthday is also celebrated as Founder’s Day at the Satsang Foundation. What better way to celebrate than to implement the life lessons he has been teaching through the pandemic of seva to the less fortunate, the suffering, walking, talking temples of the divine.
As a token of gratitude, the team collectively decided to do an “Annadanam and Seva Week” from 1st to 7th November across the country and even in far corners of the globe where some Satsangis are based.
From Chandigarh to Coimbatore, from Ahmedabad to Kolkata via the beating hearts of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, extending even to East Africa and Canada, The Satsang Seva Mission celebrated the week with kindness and concern, love and empathy receiving ever more than it could give in return.
Read the Complete ReportReseqeunce-Seva-Utsav-Annadanam-1_compressed
Chanda Satsang Vidyalaya, Uttar Pradesh
The festivities were initiated on October 31st at the Chanda Satsang Vidyalaya at Lathira Village in Garhmukteshwar District of Uttar Pradesh with a gala function where the primary school children performed a skit based on the life and spiritual journey of Sri M. They danced and sang the Guru Vandana, Gopi Geet and the Govardhan Krishna Leela in the gaily decorated premises followed by a festive lunch with delicious sweets to mark the twin occasions.
In Mathura, where Sri M had done a Bhagwata Saptah in November 2019 and where various projects had been implemented after his Walk of Hope for peace and Harmony passed through in 2016 in its 7,500 km march across the country, the SSM team distributed gift hampers of sweets and savouries to hearing and speech impaired children at the Kalyanam Karoti Special Education Institute on November 1. The children in turn took the oath to spread peace and harmony that was recited every day during the Walk of Hope in sign language, preserving a copy in Hindi in their Principal’s office. The children also gifted the team with diyas made of cow dung and hand painted by them for Diwali.
On November 2, the Mathura team travelled to a primary school in Kumaria village laden with the gift hampers. The delighted tiny tots swamped the team with love and affection, happiness and laughter as they partook of the sweets and savouries in the hamper and posed for a group photograph after taking the oath for spreading peace and harmony from the Walk of Hope. Their parents being domestic workers, manual labour, plumbers and daily wagers, had not had an easy time or been able to afford treats for their children during the pandemic.
November 3rd saw the team travelling to the juvenile reform home where Sri M had put in the last bead and made a tulsi garland with all other beads threaded together by the children individually to wear around his neck when he had done the Bhagwat Saptah. This time the children were gifted hampers of chocolates, chips, savouries and a smiley ball each, reviving those precious memories and providing a rare treat in a place where none were ever available. They too took the oath to spread peace and harmony through the land.
On November 4, the team arrived at a transformed Mahila Ashram Sadan where they had been working consistently with widows and destitute women to produce incense sticks with the flowers offered at the Banke Bihari Temple after the Walk of Hope passed through in February 2016. In a hall sparklingly cleaned and decorated by the women, the team sat down to listen to the rendition of Sri M’s favourite bhajans, ending the visit with the distribution of festive sweets to all 170 inhabitants who eagerly sent birthday greetings in advance to Sri M. From there the team proceeded to Krishna Kutir where they served a sumptuous lunch to the 135 destitute women residents followed by festive sweets ending the day with a prayer in their hearts that the women remain happy despite the privations they faced.
November 5 saw the team feeding a hot and healthy meal to blind Sadhus of Vrindavan for Annakut and Govardhan Puja after they sang some beautiful bhajans to commemorate the occasion and conveyed greetings and gratitude to Sri M for his continuing work in Mathura.
November 6th saw joyous celebrations at the Mathura Shishugraha, an orphanage where the team had carried a birthday cake along with goody bags for the tiny tots. The cake-smeared kids showered affection on the team and the cake in equal measure, announcing what they would like in their goody bags for the next time!
In adjoining Punjab, plates of plenty with hot food and halwa were distributed with cleanliness and care to 1700 people opposite Chandigarh’s Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research on the 6th of November. The beneficiaries included patients and their attendants, daily wage laborers, autorickshaw drivers, rickshaw pullers, and passers-by. Some food was delivered to the Gurudwara inside the PGI campus for poorer patients while dry rations helped feed patients and their relatives at the Spinal Rehabilitation Centre.
In Ludhiana, the SSM team invited eleven lesser privileged children of domestic workers, rickshaw pullers, and gardeners for a delightful cake cutting ceremony followed by a hearty meal of aloo puri, raita, salad, and kheer at a team member’s home. They were then given a warm send-off with chocolates. The team wound up the celebrations with a visit to a nearby gaushala to feed cows.
Delhi – NCR
In the National Capital, Sri M’s birthday celebrations were initiated on the 5th of November with a fresh hot lunch of mixed vegetables, Channas and Puri served with a dollop of gur for 30 Ragpicker Children, a few truck drivers and mechanics on the busy Som Vihar traffic light. On the 6th, Team SSM Delhi-NCR took to different parts of the city for a veritable Seva Fiesta to honor Sri M’s birth anniversary.
Early dawn before the light broke saw the team distributing or covering with blankets people either asleep or huddling on the pavements, auto rickshaw drivers sleeping in their vehicles and hawkers pushing carts.
At the Ramkrishna Mission in the heart of the city, the team offered 100 kgs of rice, 50kgs of Dal, 2 Kgs salt and two kgs of oil for making hot khichadi that the Ashram distributed to 60 Sadhus and 70 students at the ashram plus 150 slum dwellers and rickshaw pullers each on both the 6th and 7th of November.
The evening saw the team stop by at a Dharamshala opposite the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to distribute a delicious Delhi-favourite snack of Samosas and Ladoos to 350 cancer and organ transplant patients and their caretakers, bringing a ray of sunshine amidst their careworn days.
West Bengal, Kolkata
Over to the East in Kolkata, just before dusk on the 5th of November, SSM team members distributed 50 food packets of luchis, vegetable curry and ]sweets to daily wage workers living under the flyover and on the pavements in the Ballygunge area to celebrate Deepavali. The workers touched the hearts of the team by insisting they would share a single food packet with the family and the rest of the food could go to other hungry people in the Gariahat area in the vicinity. The team walked over and served several workers rendered homeless by the pandemic.
On the 6th of November, Sri M’s birth anniversary, the team visited the Ramakrishna Vedanta Ashram in Vivekanandapur to serve 45 young abandoned and orphaned boys by giving them warm blankets for the approaching winter.
On the 7th of November, celebrations continued with the team serving a breakfast of idlis and coconut chutney to daily wage workers living under the flyover at Syed Baba Mazaar in the Hastings area. It being a Sunday, enthusiastic young children of team members participated in the distribution, remarking that they were indeed privileged to have a home to live in and enough food to eat.
An SSM team member from Gujarat has worked relentlessly to provide shirts, warm clothing and other sevas on Deepavali not only in Ahmedabad but also to other cities across India.
On the eve of Deepavali, the 3rd of November 2021, he distributed new shirts to 100 street dwellers in the Ahmedabad city area to spread love and joy during the festive occasion. Their winsome smiles as they tried on the shirts were reward enough for SSM Gujarat.
The SSM team initiated celebrations on 30th October, serving a delicious hot lunch at the ANIKET home for the differently abled that they have been working with for some time now. They also carried with them special elasticated high quality track pants for the young boys residing there so that they could be worn easily by them.
On 6th November, the team planned a series of activities starting bright and early by serving a healthy and hearty breakfast to the residents of the Mahila Seva Mandal Ashram on Karve Road that works for the rehabilitation of abandoned young girls and women.
The team then moved to the Akurdi Railway station in Pimpri-Chinchwad where hot khichadi and Laddoos were served to milling crowds many of whom teared up because they had not been able to afford a decent meal in days, having lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Groceries, clothes and Diwali Faral brought cheer to the differently abled children at the Aniket Sevabhavi Sanstha. The day was rounded off by serving special “hotel style kurma” requested by the 19 children of Renutai Gavaskar’s Bholgiri Vidyalaya who could not go home for Diwali Holidays. The school serves children of lesser privileged socio-economic groups and sex workers. The children sang, danced, made merry and shared gulab jamuns with the team, ending the day on a happy note.
The celebrations continued the next day as well as the team served Khichadi and Laddoos to construction workers and porters on Dange Chowk where daily wage workers collect for finding jobs. As construction work has yet to pick up post the pandemic, many had not been able to afford a meal in days. Despite their hardships, the queues were orderly and all waste was neatly binned, leaving no litter at all.
Dinner time saw the team serving Pau Bhaji and Pulav at Caring Hands, an institution that aims to improve the socio-economic conditions of children from neglected indigenous communities, namely the Paradhi, Bhil, Laman, Dombari, Kaikadi, Ghisadi, Vaidu, Kolhati, Dhanagar and some others. The 30 children and six staff members were eagerly awaiting the Pau Bhaji that they had requested the team to serve and very kindly shared the food with them. SSM Pune had been working with Caring Hands to plant 200 trees in the vicinity during the monsoon and were delighted to see that the staff and students had been looking after the saplings very well. The team went home with lightness in their hearts and a spring in their steps for having had the opportunity to be of service to their brethren.
The team carried forth Sri M’s birthday celebrations to the 8th of November by serving lunch to resident orphan girls and staff members of Sumati Balwan, Kondhwa, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The eco-friendly school helps children apply what they learn in their daily lives and builds their skills in self reliance and maintaining a positive mindset.
For the boys of Subhedar Ramji Ambedkar Vidyalaya in Dahisar East, Mumbai, the first day of Diwali on November 1 brought little cloth bags of joy containing new shirts, snacks, and cake distributed by team SSM Mumbai. Since attendance was thin because of the holidays, the remaining snacks and sweets were distributed to local street children and other little ones in the locality, initiating Diwali celebrations in all their homes.
The team also collaborated with DESIRE, an NGO to distribute school bags, shoes chocolates, sweets and biscuits to 32 children who are either HIV positive themselves or have lost their parents to AIDS. The team joined the children in reciting and singing songs on love and living, ending the day on a musical note.
On Sri M’s birth anniversary on the 6th of November, the Mumbai SSM team served a hot meal of dal, rice, vegetables, puri and halwa to the 150 residents at Maratha Life Foundation. The foundation takes care of abandoned, destitute, elderly and ill men women and children. The team, that has been supporting the foundation for five years now, spent a happy time joining the residents in singing and dancing to express their joy.
In Hyderabad, SSM team members distributed 120 food packets to workers and their families at the Sri Krishna Gaushala nestled in a verdant nook in the concrete jungle of Kokapet on the 6th of November. The priests at the temple in the precincts and their families also enjoyed the delicious meal of vegetable pulao, shahi paneer, raita and jalebis. The little children received goody bags filled with stationary and chocolate biscuits delighting their hearts.
In Warangal, the Bhadrakali temple in Hanamakonda was the chosen venue for the SSM team to distribute 50 lovingly prepared hot food packets to the hungry homeless and destitute people who gather at the entrance during weekends and in the festive season.
Fun, feasting and energy were the hallmarks of the celebrations organised by team SSM Bengaluru at the Vallabh Niketan Ashram on Diwali, November 4, 2021. Thirty children and 15 senior citizens partook of a delicious breakfast organised by the team while the children were also busy trying out the new clothes that were given to them on the occasion.
Giving in keeping with their wishes was a heartening experience for the team as the traditional meal served to the residents included a couple of items which they had personally chosen. Fun and games followed. Spicy pani puri for tea spiked their enthusiasm again and after bursting crackers, the children danced to some rocking music till 7.30 pm.
On Sri M’s birth anniversary on the 6th of November, 20 children from the ashram joined the team in celebrations chanting the guru mantra and singing the birthday song while cutting a delicious cake. They later enjoyed a lavish breakfast of set dosa, vada, chutney and kurma along with samosas, brownies and mixture. The caretaker sent special thanks to Sri M for The Satsang Foundation’s continuing support and regular supply of food and educational assistance.
Team SSM then proceeded to distribute 200 Puliyogare meal boxes to the caretakers of poor patients at the St. John’s Hospital.
At Madanapalle, the headquarters of The Satsang Foundation, there was a happy buzz in the air as the Satsang Vidyalaya children milled around decorating blackboards and making beautiful charts to wish Sri M on his birthday that is celebrated as Founder’s Day at TSF on November 6th every year.
The sun broke out from behind the clouds bathing the school in mellow light, guiding the children to the hall outside where they performed a beautiful and moving cultural programme as a tribute to Sri M.
Little girls from primary school sang bhajans while classical dances were performed by senior girls, boys from the 8th standard did a vigorous performance to the beats of the Shiva Tandav Strotram, while primary school girls charmed the audience of teachers and students with a folk dance. A delicious lunch of vegetable biryani, capsicum saalan, raita, potato fry, Madala Vada, Chandrakala, moong daal payasam was enjoyed by all the children.
A drawing competition on water conservation in the afternoon brought the joyous celebrations to a close.
In Tirupati at the Abhaya Kshethram, a safe refuge for differently-abled orphans, destitute women, and senior citizens who have been abandoned by their families, the SSM team shared a special festive lunch with the residents comprising of 14 delicacies served over different courses.
In Kerala, Sri M’s birthplace, 6th November was a day of feasting and celebration across the state. The distribution of dry rations for the orphans, destitute, differently abled, aged and diseased served by the Hope Charitable Society in Pilathara, Kannur was the first stop where the SSM team also spent quality time interacting with the residents.
Besides doing Annadanam at Sai Samithi Children’s home in Kollam, the members of the SSM team also served breakfast to differently-abled children and adults at Anandatheeram Home whose 36 residents are either orphans or abandoned by their families.
The 59 girls of the Lakshmibai Seva Sadan Balika Trust were served next with a traditional Sadya of about 12 to 14 dishes. The Lakshmi Bai Seva Kendra, under the auspices of the Rugmini Smriti Trust seeks to empower destitute girls and transform them into strong women through education, vocational skills, and spiritual learning.
Team SSM Kerala also shared breakfast, lunch, dinner and personal hygiene kits with 38 young indigenous girls from the Tribal Girls Hostel in Kottur, Thiruvananthapuram. The hostel looks after food, education and other essentials for destitute indigenous girls from nearby villages.
Festivities began in Tamil Nadu with the SSM team celebrating Diwali with school children in three villages in the Nilgiris district on the 31st of October. In Doddhani, Horasholai and Kannerimukku villages, 160 children received new shirts and dresses as Diwali gifts with great joy. The icing on the cake was the gift of a tree that each child planted, giving back to Mother Earth for supplying all their needs.
Mango, Guava, Marigold and Aristolochia trees, were among the many planted with attention and delight, warranting the end of the day with special snacks and sweets to fortify the children after they had expended their energy in the fun-filled task.
Fired with zeal & the joy of performing service on Sri M’s birth anniversary on November 6th, Team SSM Tamil Nadu engaged in Annadanam & Seva for the destitute, disturbed, aged, and ill across the state.
At Tuticorin’s Alex Kailasam Old Age Home, 25 residents were served hot idlis, sambar, vada and kesari bhaat for breakfast. The team also served breakfast at the Love Care Centre of Parthasarathy Memorial in Pallikkaranai, Chennai to 13 mentally challenged children and adult residents. All of them helped in feeding each other and the joy on their faces was reward enough for the team. They are also given 2 bags of rice, 10 litres of oil and a grinder.
At SEED- Old Age home in Avinashi, Tirupur, breakfast was served for all the 55 inmates.
At Annaiyar Old Age Home, Perumanallur, Tirupur, 37 residents were served lunch. Team SSM Tamil Nadu was also able to serve the Banyan Home for mentally challenged children and women with lunch, dinner, and special sweets for all 110 inhabitants.
Uthavum Ullangal – a Home for destitute girl children at Kattangulathur in Chengalpet district Chennai, was given a whole day’s meal for all 52 residents, who joined in prayer for Sri M. They were also given shampoo, soap, coconut oil for use at their home.
72 packets of Brinjal rice, potato curry & flavored milk were served to construction workers, corporation workers, disabled destitute women, and security staff along Kalakshetra road, Beach road & Besant Nagar in Chennai. An auto rikshaw carrying the supplies was parked at strategic points and food distributed among the people.
A hundred people were served food packets containing Sambar Rice, Poriyal and a sweet near the General Hospital in Trichy, while 200 packets of food were distributed at Kolathur and porridge served to 750 people at Perambur and Aynavaram.
In Coimbatore a delicious spread of steamed rice, Paruppu, Sambar, Rasam, Poriyal, Kootu, Appalam, and fruits was served as lunch at the Eera Nenjam an old age home peopled by 80 to 85 residents. The team ended the day with their hearts full of love and gratitude for the opportunity for service to commemorate the occasion.
Burundi & Brampton
Not confined within the country, Sri M’s birthday celebrations spread to the far corners of the world with a Satsangi lovingly serving 60kgs of rice and 60 kgs of beans to the indigent in Burundi, East Africa.
In Brampton, Canada, Sri M’s birthday was celebrated through Seva by donating essential items at a food bank that serves the homeless and needy. Breakfast supplies, cereal –hot and cold; pancake mix, syrup, Pasta Sauce, Canned Vegetables, Canned Fruit, Kraft Mac & Cheese and Instant Noodles, Snacks such as puddings, Jello, Granola Bars, Juices & Drink Boxes, Water, Cake Mixes, Diapers, Sanitary Products and Hygiene products were offered to cement the global bond of humanity through care and sharing.
The Satsang Seva Mission teams work diligently for the ‘Annadaanam’ initiative throughout the year.