“An activity that benefits others—feeding the hungry, sharing knowledge with the unknowing, resolving the suffering of others, worshipping the poor, and serving the needy — thinking of them as the very personification of God. One’s spiritual purification is realized only through this selfless service. Service is the best way; serve others and do your Sadhana alongside. Both must be combined.”Sri M
Sri M’s message of selfless service to the Divine in all beings was exemplified in the various sevas offered to commemorate his 73rd birthday during the Seva Utsav Week held from 6th to 12th November 2022.
The lives of over 4500 people from diverse communities in 14 locations across India were touched through annadaanam seva and other sevas while entire generations have benefited through the MyTree plantation drives at different venues.
Some of these communities included senior citizens; differently-abled children and adults; children in orphanages, care centres, and a juvenile reform home; young girls and women from distressed family backgrounds; students from less privileged families and single-parent families; patients and their caregivers; healthcare personnel and therapists; hygiene workers; security personnel; farmers; migrant workers and daily wagers; and the homeless.
We pay homage to every individual who was part of this endeavor and recall moments of grace and beauty in the face of overwhelming odds.
Madanapalle Campus and The Sacred Grove, Chowdepalle
As the sun began reddening the Eastern skies on 6th November 2022, the residents at the Madanapalle campus and The Sacred Grove, Chowdepalle woke up with a nip in the air, a spring in their step and warmth in their hearts to inaugurate the celebrations planned for the day and the week ahead.
A small ceremony and distribution of sweets marked the transition of the Satsang Swaasthya Kendra (SSK) to a larger space in the upcoming Swaasthya Hospital. Construction workers at the hospital site were offered hot masala vadas and sweet madata kaja as part of the celebration.
A delicious celebratory meal was lovingly shared with the kitchen, cleaning, maintenance, and security staff, the guests, and residents at the Madanapalle campus dining hall.
Sweet laddoos and payasam were served to all residents and workers as well as villagers visiting the primarily Ayurvedic health camp held at The Sacred Grove, Chowdepalle. Visitors, therapists, workers, and residents joined hands to plant a number of trees, including the Sita Ashoka, Adukha Vrikhsa, and Kachnar on the campus.
Warm blankets were offered to the elders at Sri Ranga Anand Old Age Home, Thane and the Karunaradham Old Age Home, Hyderabad to protect them against the bitter cold of winter. Interesting book readings and an energetic song ‘n’ dance session followed by a sumptuous lunch marked the celebrations at Radhika Old Age Home, Bhayander. An electric air bed was also provided for these sprightly seniors.
The elders at Nirmala Praanjivan Bhagat Old Age Home, Surat regaled the young SSM team members with amusing anecdotes and spent many happy moments in their company after partaking of an elaborate Gujarati thali. Annadaanam seva was also offered to the senior citizens at the SEED Old Age Home and the Annaiyar Home for the Aged in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu. Abandoned by their families, this festive meal shared with their friends and the SSM volunteers brought much cheer to these seniors.
The elders at the Vallabh Niketan Ashram, Bengaluru too enjoyed festive meals throughout the day with the young residents of the home just as their contemporaries at the Mathruchaya Balabhavan Home for Boys and Senior Citizens in Chowara, Kochi partook of a typical Kerala sadhya and helped the young boys at the home to plant saplings at their home. Dry rations were also provided to sustain the nutritional needs of these seniors and young residents.
Differently-Abled Children and Adults
The differently-abled children sheltered at Voice of World, Kolkata were overjoyed to participate in a small plantation drive held at the premises of their home. Ecstatic gestures and joyous cries marked this celebratory event as the volunteers held their hands and helped them plant the saplings with great affection. A month’s supply of dry rations was also offered at this safe home.
The extraordinary children at the Government School for the Visually Challenged in Poochiyur Village, Coimbatore recorded an endearing birthday message for Sri M addressing him as ‘Babaji’ in their sweet voices after enjoying a treat of breakfast and sweets and receiving a set of school uniforms.
At ANIKET Sevabhavi Sanstha, Pune energetic sessions of yoga, pranayama, and games preceded a traditional lunch and a festive dinner much to the delight of the special children of this home. The children at the Love Care Centre in Pallikaranai, Chennai also partook of a special lunch and conveyed their wishes to Sri M with a loving message.
The Banyan, a care home for women suffering from mental illness, served as the perfect venue to share a festive lunch with these remarkable women who are rehabilitated and reintegrated into their families following intensive treatment.
Children and Young Women at Orphanages, Shelter Homes
The young boys harbored at Mathruchaya Balabhavan Home for Boys and Senior Citizens in Chowara, Kochi received stationery kits and sweets after a filling meal and the planting of saplings with the elders at the home.
Phulwa Daycare Centre, Pune offers a safe haven to the children of sex workers in the Shukrawar Peth locality. Touching scenes of older children cajoling and feeding the younger ones were witnessed during the annadaanam seva offered here. Scenes of such empathy and camaraderie characterized the annadaanam sevas offered at Pune’s Caring Hands, a home for children of migrant workers and at the Vallabh Niketan Ashram, Bengaluru which harbors children of single parents from economically challenged families.
In a touching ceremony, the 41 young boys at the Juvenile Reform Home in Mathura lit diyas and placed them on a colourful ‘M’ made of wheat dough in a prayerful mode to seek Sri M’s blessings and guidance for a brighter future. Natural colour made from flowers in the Banke Bihari Temple adorned the M that signified his presence and wisdom for the children. Sweet, home-made kheer was offered to them and the security personnel at the home.
A simple yet nutritious breakfast was offered to the residents of Udhavum Ullangal, Chennai and the Mahila Seva Mandal, Pune while a traditional lunch was served to the residents of Nambikkai Illam at Namakkal, Tamil Nadu. These homes provide sanctuary to young girls and women who hail from distressed families and have been abandoned. Given their sensitive family circumstances, the SSM team members exercised great caution during their interactions with them and served them with much care.
At the Angel’s Nest Orphanage in Marol, Mumbai the team members offered dry rations and sweets to the girls and young women sheltered here. The matron’s eyes welled up with tears as she thanked the team members for this providential help. An interactive session with the residents revealed some of their daunting challenges related to health, academic support, and self esteem. The team members assured these wonderful youngsters of their support and promised to return soon with sustainable solutions to their challenges.
Patients, Caregivers, Hospital Staff
Blankets were offered to leprosy patients and their families at the Kushta Ashram, Haridwar. The children of these patients were particularly pleased when they received their choice of dishes – nourishing kadhi-rice and paronthis – during the annadaanam seva held for all the residents of the ashram.
Cancer patients undergoing treatment at Tata Cancer Hospital and their caregivers lodged at the Sant Ghadge Maharaj Trust in Dadar, Mumbai received milk, apples, bananas, and oranges.
About 300 meal packets were offered to the patients and their caregivers at the Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital, Hyderabad. The SSM team members interacted with a young 15-year-old patient and her family and were moved beyond words by her sweet, charming demeanor and the positive attitude of the whole family.
Langar seva was offered out of a mobile bhandara truck to the patients and their caregivers at the Government Hospital, Sector 16 and PGIMER, Chandigarh. Over 700 people partook of a filling meal as they queued up outside these hospitals. The youngest volunteer of the SSM team, a six-year-old girl, lovingly served them throughout the three hours of continual seva.
A healthy snack and herbal tea was offered to the patients, healthcare personnel, and the hygiene personnel at the Narayan Dham Naturopathy Centre in Narayanpur, near Pune. This celebratory meal was a refreshing break for the healthcare and hygiene personnel who spend long hours caring for the patients.
Rubber sheets for 50 beds were offered at the Goregaon Municipal Maternity Hospital, Mumbai. The team members will continue to provide bedsheets, hospital gowns, and toiletries to the new mothers at this hospital in the months ahead.
Migrant Workers, Daily Wagers, and the Homeless
A wondrous gift of various musical instruments and a microphone set was presented to the migrant workers and the homeless at the Yamuna Pushta Night Shelter, Delhi-NCR to help fulfill their dream of setting up a Bhajan Mandali. The residents learned how to combat the poor AQI in Delhi and mitigate body aches brought on by hard labor through an invigorating session of simple pranayama and asanas conducted by the volunteers of the Bharat Yoga Vidya Kendra (BYVK). Finally, an annadaanam seva that lasted over 4 hours ensured that the hungry residents received a nourishing meal served with reverence and humility.
A weekly annadaanam seva was launched in commemoration of Founder’s Day to support the nutritional needs of the community of daily wagers at Lakshmipura in Gavipuram, Bengaluru. As the recipients came back for a second helping of food, the team members expressed their heartfelt gratitude for having been of service to them.
The daily annadaanam seva at the Shelter for the Homeless and Senior Citizens at Ganeshpuri for those who have been abandoned by their families and are unable to fend for themselves continued through the Seva Utsav Week. The dry rations required for their daily meal are provided on a monthly basis through a local grocery vendor who has taken on the responsibility of preparing the daily meal. The impoverished residents of this small, shed-like shelter offer prayers of thanksgiving to Swami Nityananda and to their anna daata before partaking of their only meal of the day.
At the Sai Baba Temple in Chembur, Mumbai the community of slum dwellers and their families partook of a celebratory lunch and snacks made specially for the children. No event is complete for this vibrant community without the participation of their SSM friends thanks to the weekly anndaanam seva that has been offered here since the past 5 months.
Food packets and water bottles were given to pavement dwellers at several locations in Chennai while warm blankets were offered to hutment dwellers in Gachibowli, Hyderabad and West Mareddpally, Secunderabad. Gentle whispers of “God bless you!” greeted the young volunteers who participated in a nocturnal sortie to hand over the blankets to the homeless as they got ready to rest for the night.
Snacks and cakes were shared with young students hailing from a community of daily wagers at the Labour Camp, Hiranandani Estate in Thane after they had completed their games session at the local park.
Farmers, General Public, and Students
The SSM team members who have been regularly providing dry rations and other essential items to the farmers in Thirupanagadu, Kancheepuram District offered a filling traditional lunch and fruits to them to celebrate Founder’s Day while annadaanam seva was offered at the historical Pudukkotai Palace, Trichy by a team member who belongs to the erstwhile royal family. A festive meal was served to over 100 people who had thronged the palace to participate in this celebratory meal.
A set of Physics textbooks were gifted to the students of Grades 11 and 12 at the Government Senior Secondary School in Ramgarh, Chandigarh. While the parents of these youngsters have the wherewithal to provide the basic necessities, they are often unable to provide educational material that is beyond their spending ability. The textbooks will help the students to explore, learn, and assimilate the core concepts and put them into practice during their lab sessions under the able guidance of their teachers.
An Aquaguard water purifier was installed at the Government High School in Balamrai, Secunderabad and the existing water purifier was also serviced, thus ensuring safe drinking water to the 300 students and teaching staff.
MyTree Plantation Drives
The spirit of maitri or loving friendship with trees and their nurture was exemplified through the MyTree plantation drives at Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.
The Bio-Park in Bangalore University is home to the garden of ‘Panchavati’ which has five concentric layers of trees such as Bilwa, Amla, Peepal, Seeta Ashoka, and Banyan that are conducive for meditation. The MyTree team members planted 108 saplings of the Tabebuia avellanedae species, chosen by the coordinator of Bio-Park with a vision to enhance the beauty of this remarkable garden.
The MyTree team members offered 108 Moringa (Drum stick) saplings at the Mukund Permaculture Farm located in Wada, Palghar, 100 kms from Mumbai. They planted 9 saplings and since most of the other saplings are still tender, they will be grown in nursery bags and transplanted into the soil by the farm personnel. The team members were thrilled that the saplings will thrive under the dedicated watch of the caretaker at the farm.
The donation of 108 saplings of fruit-bearing trees such as mango, coconut, jackfruit, and bel and the planting of 10 saplings including one of the divine Suvarna Pimpal tree at a spot where the legendary Sri Guru Dattatreya himself had once meditated marked the celebrations at the Narayan Dham Naturopathy Centre in Narayanpur, near Pune.
The student volunteers of the National Service Scheme (NSS), teachers, and staff of the BJR Government College in Narayanguda, Hyderabad joined hands with the MyTree team members to plant 20 twenty saplings of medicinal plants such as Ranaphal, Tulsi, Ajwain, Neem, and Bilva; ornamental ones like Rose, Hibiscus, and varieties of Nandi Vardhan; and fruit-bearing trees like Mango, Lemon, and Sapota. The young NSS volunteers promised to take on the responsibility of nurturing the saplings and monitoring their growth.
The relentless efforts of the Satsang Seva Mission (SSM) team members, volunteers, and donors through the entire Seva Utsav Week have ensured that each seva was offered with utmost care, concern, and gratitude towards the recipients. These endeavors continue as daily, weekly, and monthly commitments in several locations, providing constant sustenance and support.
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