The whole theory of karma yoga is that you should work with complete attention for the benefit of others, rather than for your own self. Then the mind is in meditation and it becomes purified.
Sri M’s 74th birth anniversary was celebrated with great joy and fervour across the globe as Seva Utsav from the 6th to 12th November 2023 under the aegis of the Satsang Seva Mission (SSM) and with volunteers from all The Satsang Foundation(TSF) initiatives spreading his message of service before self to bring about reformation and change in human minds for a better and more inclusive world.
Whether it was Annadaanam, Conservation of the Planet, Supporting Education and Health Initiatives for the less fortunate or promoting peace and harmony to highlight his key teaching of the oneness of all humanity, everyone joined minds and hearts to lend a hand for making the celebrations a special and meaningful tribute to the Master.
Madanapalle and Chowdepalle
At the Madanapalle Ashram of TSF, the volunteers ventured forth bright and early to serve a hot breakfast to 105 children and staff of the Kuraparthy Sai Chaitanya Sravanti Trust Orphanage. They were back in the evening with the staff and doctors of The Swaasthya Hospitals to do a free health camp for all, checking their basic parameters and providing consultation and medicines to those suffering mainly from cold and flu. All of them are now registered at the hospital for checkups and treatment. They were also joined by volunteers of the Lions Club of Horsley Hills who distributed seed balls to the children, providing valuable lessons in environmental conservation, tree plantation and health care amidst fun and games.
Within the Ashram itself, a special lunch was served to all the students and staff of The Satsang Vidyalaya, followed by dances, songs and talks on Sri M’s life performed by the students and the distribution of geometry boxes and sketch pens by volunteers and staff to them. The students then proceeded to clean up the campus, sweeping, collecting and disposing off trash in an eco-friendly manner.
A couple of days down the line, the Kabbadi Youth Seva joined celebrations by donating 132 trees for plantation both at Madanapalle and at The Sacred Grove at Chowdepalle, TSF’s Centre for Exploring Consciousness a 45-minute drive away. While some of them added a touch of nature around the periphery of the green and ochre glass fronted building of the newly made Swaasthya Hospitals at the Ashram, the others were planted on the sprawling 17 and a half acres of undulating hills and grounds of the Chowdepalle campus.
The team at The Sacred Grove had come across a nursery in Madanapalle that was reeling under the impact of a road widening project, and decided to adopt four of their Gulmohar trees. They worked tirelessly for two days to rescue these trees and give them a home at The Sacred Grove.
The team also planted 14 Peltaphorum, Bauhinia and Tabebuia Rosea plants at the local Grama Sachivalaya on soil prepared lovingly by the village elders. Volunteers, guests, and workers at The Sacred Grove also carried flowering bushes to the Koturu village school where 80 students and teachers helped them plant Rose, Hibiscus, Chandani, Plumeria, Brahmi and Sadaphuli.
The Sacred Grove’s wellness centre, ArogyaM hosted a free Ayurveda camp, providing consultations and medicines to over 60 individuals from neighbouring villages of Chowdepalle. Santrupti, the Sacred Grove dining hall, transformed into an “Annadana Kshetra,” serving delicious meals to those seeking free consultations and subsidised medicines at ArogyaM. On 11th November, special Yoga sessions and annadaanam for 40 children and 20 adults were held as a fitting finale to celebrations at Chowdepalle.
Amidst a brown pall of smog, battling plummeting Air Quality Index (AQI) figures, bright tee-shirt clad volunteers of the The Satsang Foundation (TSF) Delhi – NCR threaded their way through different parts of the city to spread cheer among some of their less fortunate brethren to celebrate the birth anniversary of Sri M over three days.
Their first stop on 4th November was the New Delhi Railway station where 500 rickshaw pullers, porters, and arriving migrants’ faces lit up with joy to receive hot samosas, laddoos, and juice neatly packaged for their consumption at tea time. On 5th November, the beleaguered patients living outdoors in tents and in free dharamashalas in and around the premier hospitals of the city – the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung Hospital received a comforting meal. The homeless, the differently abled and the destitute forced to beg for their living around the Sai Baba Temple on Lodhi Road were also among those served 1000 hot food packets.
Fittingly, on D-day, 6th November, hot khichdi with vegetables made with rations for approximately 1000 meals provided to the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram by the Delhi-NCR team was served both to the Swamis within the mission and to rickshaw pullers and the indigent people just outside. SSM volunteers meanwhile served 200 packets of juice, laddoos and hot samosas to weary travellers on the bustling periphery of the Ashram to wind up celebrations.
A few hours away in Bengaluru, the TSF volunteers conducted an extensive environmental awareness program for a group of 60 children aged between 12-14 years at the Sneh Ghar Government school to mark the occasion.
It began with an interactive, multimedia presentation on Sri M’s vision of the Satsang Jal Seva Sangatan (SJSS) and MyTree – TSF’s intertwined environmental initiatives focussing on water conservation and plantation of trees in the spirit of maitri or amity with Nature.
The children were offered specially-curated, grow bags in which they sowed seeds of green leafy vegetables like spinach, mint and amaranth, enabling them to create their own kitchen garden. The germination and growth of the seeds will be monitored by MyTree volunteers. As the children took the Jal Seva pledge and promised to use water mindfully, they received certificates of participation and a friendship card to forge amicable bonds with Nature.
A fun-filled creative session followed with the offering of stationery kits comprising colouring books, pencils, erasers, crayons, sketch pens, water colours, and oil pastels to 160 children at the school. Artwork, songs, dances, and birthday wishes for Sri M by the children livened the atmosphere concluding with the sharing of snack boxes filled with cake and other delicious goodies prepared by bakery students of The Spastics Society of Karnataka.
SSM Bengaluru volunteers also spent quality time with children at two shelter homes which they have been associated with for the past six years. Residents of Vallabh Niketan Ashram in Central Bengaluru that provides refuge to a group of young boys aged between 8 to 21 years as well as senior citizens, were offered special snack boxes and juice even as they spontaneously sang birthday greetings for Sri M. SSM volunteers in the city provide weekly annadanam and monthly rations to the home, besides conducting yoga sessions and spoken English classes regularly. They do the same for the Namma Mane shelter home for young girls where they also distributed snack boxes and juice to mark the occasion, spending a happy time with the girls.
Since the Seva Utsav week ushered in the Festival of Lights, Deepavali on 12th November, Team SSM Bengaluru visited the Vallabh Niketan Ashram residents again joining in the bhajans, chanting, and prayers rendered by children of the Deep Academy of Visually Challenged Children. They also bore gifts of new clothes and firecrackers that were shared with a delicious meal of piping hot dosas. At Namma Mane, the volunteers also offered new clothes and an annadaanam seva of bisibele bhath and sweet laddoos for the young girls filling the place with light and laughter, festivity and fun .
On 5th November 2023, the International Yoga Research Foundation (IYRF), an initiative of The Satsang Foundation (TSF), had an early celebration of Sri M’s birthday in Trivandrum marked by the launch of a Library Initiative.
The event commenced with Swami Golokananda of The Ramakrishna Mission Trivandrum’s heartfelt donation of the first book to the library, symbolising a collective commitment to knowledge and wisdom. The day was marked by engaging discussions, emphasising the library’s potential to shape research and promote learning.
On Sri M’s birthday, 6th November, SSM Kerala Kendra volunteers vended their way to Sukarma Vikas Kendra for the differently abled in Parakkadavu, Ernakulam. The volunteers offered dry rations to support the nutritional requirements of the residents of the home and planted jackfruit and mango saplings to help sustain the serene environment and soothing, therapeutic ambiance. A cake-cutting session followed by a festive lunch and a walk across the campus with the residents formed a fitting finale to the day.
Annadaanam seva was offered to 20 people at the Mridanga Saileswari Temple in Kannur to mark the occasion.
SSM volunteers in the commercial capital of the country displayed the city’s warm heart by reaching out to 14 locations across Mumbai to provide different kinds of seva to mark Sri M’s birth anniversary through the Seva Utsav week.
Annadanam was offered first at the Sai Baba Temple at Matunga to 225 hungry citizens gathered at the temple precincts. The team then visited the Snehasadan Orphanage in Andheri East bringing a hot meal for its 45 children and adolescents. In Central Mumbai & Western Suburbs, small groups of volunteers set off bright and early to Jogeshwari, Andheri Station, Dadar Station, Vikhroli, Powai, Bandra East Highway, Santacruz Highway, and Bandra Masjid areas, reaching out to over 400 less privileged citizens. Children of pavement dwellers, flower sellers, and watchmen at apartment complexes were among those offered samosas, chocolate cakes, semolina cakes, and juice till 3 p.m.
Another group of volunteers offered a hearty hot lunch to more than 110 daily wagers and pavement dwellers at Andheri East Station. Dry rations were offered to Angel’s Nest Orphanage, Marol, a shelter for young girls to support their daily, nutritional requirements.
At the Subhedar Ramji Ambedkar Vidyalaya, where SSM volunteers have been working with the children of Grades 1-4 since September through regular sessions for increased self-awareness and reliance, they screened the documentary “Walk of Hope”on Sri M’s epic padyatra of over 7,500 kms from Kanyakumari to Kashmir over 2014-15. The children were filled with wonder as they watched the documentary and enjoyed the snacks offered to them by the volunteers, concluding the celebrations with heartfelt birthday greetings for Sri M.
At the Thane Central Jail, inmates created over 100 vibrant lanterns during a three-day, lantern-making workshop arranged by SSM volunteers for the festival of Deepavali falling in the Seva Utsav week. These lanterns, put on sale at the factory shop, will help generate remuneration for the creative inmates.
At the remote Ketli Pada, Aarey Colony settlement in Goregaon (East) SSM volunteers offered traditional snacks, new clothes, and accessories to 30 children and their families on the twin occasions of Sri M’s birthday and Deepavali. The recipients were deeply moved by the unexpected outreach of the volunteers who had trekked their way to their pada. Volunteers also offered new clothes, sweets, chocolate cakes, and juice to children living in the hutments near Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), Mahape in Navi Mumbai.
On 11th November, the Diwali Krida Utsav or sports fest welcomed about 200 children and youngsters from the nearby labour camps at the Hiranandani Estate Central Garden for a fun-filled session of traditional games. Delectable snacks were offered to the enthusiastic participants to conclude this unique celebration. On the following day, 80 children from Cheenapada and Dharampada, Thane participated in the sports fest. The SSM volunteers also visited the Shrirang Anand Ashram, an old age home in Waghbil, Thane to offer new clothes and towels to the 25 elders sheltered here.
Under the aegis of the MyTree or Maitri TSF project to promote harmonious coexistence with nature, 32 children of the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) School No. 92 at Kalwa East, Mumbai participated in an interactive, audio-visual session on tree plantation. This was followed by the creation of a terrace garden on the fifth floor of the school, using dry leaves instead of soil to plant 100 saplings in recycled paint containers and mud pots under the able guidance of MyTree and their partner Hirwa Swapna Volunteers.
Volunteers from the MyBhoomi team launched a series of awareness sessions on plastic waste management in corporate companies, schools, and other institutions. The first session was held at the offices of KKD Studio, a luxury interior design firm that has committed to segregating all dry waste at their current projects and only using green-certified materials for all their work.
Team SSM Pune ushered in Sri M’s birthday on 6th November by offering annadaanam seva to over 200 recipients across the city. At the Mahila Seva Mandal, a safe haven that empowers women through education and community service, the volunteers offered its 150 residents a nutritious breakfast.
For the 55 specially-abled children of the Aniket Sevabhavi Sanstha, Sri M’s birthday presented a wonderful opportunity to meet and interact with their TSF friends. As the volunteers served them a festive lunch, the children touchingly offered to serve them in return. At dinner time, the volunteers offered bowls of warm, comforting khichadi to 25 patients and their caregivers at the Akurdi PCMC Hospital.
A group of volunteers gathered at the GauAmrut Balkrishna Gaushala to offer fodder to the 20 cows sheltered here. The fodder, rich in proteins, ensures a nutritious and abundant supply of milk to the calves.
At the Sumati Balwan school that provides education, food, and accommodation to children from less privileged families, volunteers offered dry rations and toiletries to support the daily requirements of the residents for a month.
Under the TSF MyBhoomi initiative, on 9th November, an awareness session on plastic waste management was held for a few residents of the Deccan Hostel to encourage the students to collect clean plastic waste and send it forward for recycling at designated centres.
TSF’s MyTree volunteers joined hands with the Kesnand Gram Panchayat and local residents to plant 75 saplings of native trees (banyan, peepal, neem) at the Jogeshwari Temple on 11th November. The SSM Pune volunteers also joined the Namaskar Foundation to offer annadanam seva at the Akurdi Railway Station on Deepavali. Many pavement dwellers and daily wage workers who live the vicinity could avail of a festive meal on the happy occasion.
On the 6th of November, Sri M’s birthday, SSM volunteers offered langar seva – a wholesome meal of rotis, rice, kadhi, chole-aloo curry, and prasad – to 600 people at the Post Graduate Institute in Chandigarh, a speciality hospital that caters to nearly 10,000 patients a day from Pujab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir.
On 8th November, at Kitaabghaar, supported by the NGO Yuvasatta in Bapu Dham Colony Chandigarh, the SSM volunteers offered colourful sweaters and sweets to the economically marginalised young girls from the surrounding slums, prompting them to share posters and banners depicting the importance of the girl child and enjoying lively interactions with the group.
In Ludhiana an SSM volunteer invited nine children from lesser privileged families to a hot meal and cake cutting ceremony at her home and suggested that all of them who didn’t know their birthdays celebrate them on the 6th of November with Sri M. The delighted children clapped and cheered, ending the celebrations with a photo session and chocolates.
Across the south-eastern stretch of India, in Tamil Nadu, Sri M’s birthday celebrations involved offering extensive annadaanam seva at shelter homes for homeless children, the destitute, and the differently abled in the cities of Chennai, Trichy, Tirupur and Coimbatore and spending quality time with the residents.
The Love Care Centre for the differently abled at Pallikaranai shelters 35 residents and 35 day scholars . On Sri M’s birthday on 6th November, Team SSM Chennai served them a hearty breakfast followed by a festive lunch on the following day, 7th November.
SSM Chennai volunteers also served a festive breakfast at the Udhavum Ullangal home for destitute girl children and homeless women to mark the occasion. Lunch was also served to 100 residents of The Banyan Adaikalam, a transit care centre for homeless women suffering from mental illnesses.
Under the MyTree initiative, volunteers planted a sapling of a jackfruit tree at a school in Mogappair, Chennai. The jackfruit tree holds a special significance in Sri M’s life because he met his Master under just such a tree at his childhood home in Trivandrum. The volunteers also joined the local population at the Thirumullaivoyal Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO ) to plant 74 saplings of fruit bearing trees such as guava and amla to help sustain the community with nutritious food over time.
An SSM volunteer offered a nutritious festive lunch of sambar rice, sweet pongal, kesari, and appalams to 75 people outside the General Hospital in the city.
SSMvolunteers also served a hearty breakfast to homeless boys and elderly women at the Shiva Sharmila Charitable Trust in Tirupur. This was followed by a hearty lunch for 35 elders at the Annaiyar Old Age Home.
Team SSM Coimbatore offered annadaanam seva at the Helping Hearts Old Age Home shelters and the Government School for the Visually Challenged, Poochiyur Village.
The 150 seniors at the Poosaripalayam, Ukkadam, and Kng Pudur shelters and 25 children at the Poochiyur school were overjoyed to be served lovingly by the dedicated volunteers, who also spent quality time with them. The volunteers went home with a bounce in their steps and contentment in their hearts.
Sri M’s birthday celebrations in Hyderabad began with a visit to the Amma Odi Orphanage for boys. SSM volunteers offered a dry ration kit comprising 26 kgs of rice, 16 litres of cooking oil, and 5 kgs of lentils for the month of November. An interactive session with the enthusiastic children culminated with an impromptu dance by two energetic youngsters and the sharing of delicious snacks, fruits and juice.
The volunteers then proceeded to Manoj Tuition Centre, located at Patimatla Village, about 120 kms from Hyderabad where they offered a festive dinner and new clothes to the less privileged children studying at this centre. The children listened with rapt attention to a brief introduction to Sri M and TSF. The younger children performed a group dance to a scintillating Telugu song before partaking of a convivial dinner during which the volunteers and children took turns to serve each other.
The volunteers concluded their celebration of Seva Utsav under the aegis of the Satsang Jal Seva Sangatan (SJSS) by creating awareness about the origins, life-giving nature, and history of the River Musi, including the degeneration to its current polluted state among children of the Government High School, Balamrai. Twenty five children of Grade 8 in the school then enacted contrasting visions of the river through short skits expressing their sadness at its neglect and hoping for its rejuvenation.
Dry rations for a month and fruits were offered at Mathru Abhaya Foundation orphanage for girls and boys on 11th November. Team SSM Hyderabad has been serving the shelter home for three years now with monthly dry rations, annadanam seva on festive occasions and essential supplies. The children were delighted to see their friends and cheerful interactions followed as they introduced new friends who have recently received refuge at the home.
Chanda Satsang Vidyalaya Lathira, Garh Mukteshwar
At the Chanda Satsang Vidyalaya Lathira (CSVL), the children, staff and students along with TSF volunteers enhanced the Seva Utsav week by celebrating not only Sri M’s birth anniversary and their Founder’s day, but also ringing in Deepavali and Children’s Day in a joyous tribute to their founder.
Drawing inspiration from Sri M’s life of wisdom and selfless service, the children performed skits based on his autobiography, ‘Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master,’ and its sequel, ‘The Journey Continues.’ Music, dance, and plays commemorating all the occasions lit up the stage.
TSF volunteers joined the teachers and senior students in serving a delicious special lunch on the occasion which was also shared with construction workers engaged in building their new school premises. The children also distributed sweets to the workers, who would be spending the festive season away from their homes.
SSM volunteers in the land of Sri Krishna celebrated Sri M’s birthday on 6th November with birthday cake and little goody bags filled with treats for children at shelter homes and by distributing wholesome meals for the less privileged.
At the Shishu Grah Orphanage , little children enjoyed a scrumptious birthday cake and lit water diyas in honor of Sri M. They were delighted to receive goody bags filled with caps, whistles, smiley balls, snacks, chocolates, and candy.
At the Juvenile Reform Home that Sri M had visited in 2019, SSM volunteers spent time with the children narrating the incident of Sri Sainath lighting diyas with water instead of oil and following it up with presenting the delighted children water diyas. Birthday cake, brownies, and goody bags filled with little treats brought much cheer to the youngsters cut off from mainstream society. During their evening meal, delicious kheer prepared at Madhu Ki Rasoi was offered as a fitting dessert to end the special day.
Madhu ki Rasoi, the community kitchen of TSF at Vrindavan was festooned with balloons and the shrine of the Gurus illuminated with water diyas. Sweet laddoos were lovingly offered to over 500 daily wagers, migrants, and pavement dwellers along with the daily evening annadaanam seva to conclude the celebration.
SSM volunteers joined the nationwide Seva Utsav on the occasion of Sri M’s birthday, 6th November by offering annadaanam seva at different locations in Kolkata.
Joining hands with Arham Ahaar, an NGO that organises food drives, the volunteers offered khichdi and sweets to more than 250 pavement dwellers and daily wagers at a major traffic intersection in South Kolkata.
Some of the volunteers proceeded to the northern part of the city to Calcutta Rescue, a 40-year-old shelter home that provides education, food, and co-curricular support to children of slum dwellers. They offered a mid-morning meal of rice, dal, a vegetable curry, salad, a fruit and sweets to 200 children aged between 4-16 years. They were blessed by the elders and joyously thanked by the children, making their day.
In Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi in Sub-Saharan Africa, a TSF volunteer and his family offered biscuits, spaghetti, and chocolates to 70 residents sheltered at the Missionaries of Charity centre to celebrate Sri M’s birth anniversary.
The feature length documentary on Sri M’s “Walk of Hope” spanning 11 states across 7,500 kms from Kanyakumari to Kashmir titled “Walking With M” won the Best Documentary award at the Berlin International Film Festival held in Milan, taking Sri M’s core message of the oneness of humanity across the globe. The award was announced on the eve of Sri M’s birthday.
Walking with M also played at the International Film Festival at the Hague over November 10, 11, and 12 in the city of the Peace Palace getting the prestigious “Global Peace and Harmony Award”. The film underscores Sri M’s key teaching for the need of the change of heart to effect socio-political transformation. The cast and crew, including Sri M, interacted with audiences responding to queries about the iconic walk.
The United States of America
Sacred Grove, Graham
At Sacred Grove in Graham, Texas, volunteers of the Blossom Foundation and attendees of the fall retreats were fortunate to have Sri M present among them just before his birth anniversary. They baked a special cake for him, invited him to cut and share it among them. While he thanked them for the celebration, he said it would be good to question oneself on which birthday of many lives one was celebrating. He said, even within the present body, he had also had a spiritual birth and hoped all those present would also strive towards that for which he was always there to assist.
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