SRI SAI DARSHAN TRUST

NEWSLETTER - 2nd Quarter - 2017

Sai Ram Jai Maruthi Jai Maruthi! Welcome to our second quarterly newsletter! Never is there a day where the feeling of happiness, positivity, love, and spirituality wavers, here in our ashram! This quarter was full of celebration, the not so pleasant heat of peak summer, and the very pleasant welcome of mangoes. The major event from this past quarter was the Sahasra Chandi Homam function in April. As we reminisce all the events and happenings during the function, it all just brings back a rush of energy. It was a wonderful feeling to have most of the Sai Darshan family reunited for the powerful Chandi Homam.

Starting off the functions for this quarter, Ram Navami fell on April 5th. This is the day that Lord Sri Ram was born, and we celebrated this day at the Ram Darbar in our ashram temple.  The festivities included paal (milk) abishekam, followed by delicious neermor (buttermilk) and paanagam (jaggery water spiced with cardamom, ginger, and lemon). The puja was elaborate as we celebrated Lord Sri Ram’s birthday, and the happiness and positivity in the air was contagious! 

Our next event, and the highlight of this quarter was the Sahasra Chandi Homam function which took place between April 6th and 16th. The function took place in April, after it had been postponed from the original scheduled date in December due to Cyclone Vardah. We also saw the return of our favorite elephant, Bashila! The significance of this year’s Sahasra Chandi Homam was to bring about world peace and for the overall welfare of the ashram. During the ten days of the function, the 50 priests recited Chandi Parayanam three times a day! The significance of doing Parayanam lies in its power when recited. When the story is recited, it brings the devotee closer to the Goddess as they feel especially connected. The Devi Mahatmya is the story of Devi, Her incarnations, and what types of evil they faced and conquered. All the asuras that were fought by Devi symbolize all the vices that we as mankind, face.

The first day of the function began on the evening of April 6th. All the priests completed a Vastu puja and homam to ensure that everything goes well for the rest of the function duration. During the homam, a vastu figure was ignited by the agni from the havan-kund, and was taken around the temple to protect the temple during the time of the function.

Each morning of the function started with the Ganapathy Puja, Go Puja (performed for Sai Ganga), Gaja Puja (performed for Bashila), and Guru Puja as are done during every December function at the ashram. Having Bashila at the ashram during the function, provided a lot of strength and power to all those in the ashram during the puja, and ensured that the entire function would be conducted without any hindrances. Having Bashila at the ashram not only enhanced the power and positive energy, but she was a joy for all the devotees to witness. 

The morning of the 7th, while the Puja and Parayanam were being conducted and chanted, an especially busy medical camp was concurrently held and was a success despite the heavy crowds. On the evening of the 7th, all the priests climbed up to the roof of the temple where a tent was set up. Here, the priests performed Pancharudra Puja by chanting Rudram, Chamakam, and other Vedic mantras while Maa, standing at the Gopuram, did abhishek with five kalashas and did aarti for the Lingam. After the puja, the evening commenced with the first day of Chandi Paryanam. This was followed by a beautiful recitation of Sri Lalitha Sahasranama, Trisathi Parayanam, and Ashtotram. Next, Avatharikei followed, which included the Chaturveda Gosam-chanting of the four vedas (Rig, Yajur [Krishna & Shukla], Sama [Jaimini & Gautami], and Atharva)- which was recited by all the priests, Ganapaata, Upanyaasa, and Keertan. It was a charged and an energy-filled few hours, felt by everyone conducting the puja and by all those in attendance. 

From the 8th (Saturday) until the last day of the function on the 16th (Sunday), every day’s function began with the preliminary pujas (Ganapathy, Go, Gaja, Guru). On the 16th, the last day of the function, Ashwa Puja was also performed for a horse as it represents Chandi Devi and invokes Her blessings to grant courage and mental power to all. After these pujas, the priests began chanting Chandi Parayanam in the morning. At this time, concurrently, the Suvaasini (married women who represent Devi), Dhampati (married couples representing Shiva and Shakti), Kanya (young girls also representing Devi), and Vaduka (two bramhacharis) pujas were also being conducted. For the entire duration of the function, the priests would chant Chandi Parayanam in the morning and again in the evening, followed by Lalitha Sahasranama, Tristathi Parayanam and Ashtotram, and lastly, Avatharikei (Chaturveda Gosam, Ganapaata, Upanyaasa, and Keertan). By the end of the function, on the 16th, the priests had chanted 1059 Chandi Parayanams!

On the 14th, not only was it a function day, but it was also the Tamil New Year. On this day, Maa distributed new vastras to all the priests. On this day, several of our Sai Darshan devotees performed a Shatdevata Puja. In this Puja, they performed a special abhishek to six Devatas: Ganapathy, Ambika, Subramaniam, Narayana, Shiva, and Surya. Along with the special abhishek, an archana was also performed while chanting ashtotram for each God/Goddess. This puja was done for the welfare and prosperity of the ashram and everyone there. Throughout the entire day, the feeling of happiness of bringing in a “new year” rang in the air!

The last two days, culminated in the Chandi Homam. On each day, three havans were performed by all the 50 priests. The priests that conducted all the pujas and the homams for this function are very skilled and learned priests who had come from all over India for this function! Twenty-seven of the priests are Ganapaatas, who are priests who are trained in the elite art of Vedic chanting. The resulting energy from the havans and from the chanting of all the priests was so strong and illuminating, it was palpable in the air! The Mahapurnahuti was offered at the conclusion of the havans on both days. Since there were three havan-kunds on each day, there were respectively three Purnahutis that were offered on each day. What’s very significant is that during the time of the Purnahuti, all the Devatas come down from the heavens to be present in the area of the yaaga to bless everyone during the time of offering! After the Purnahuti, all the devotees and priests sat in the hall to witness the Kalasha Abhishek to Baba and Maa. All the power and energy of the havans were kept and collected in nine kalashas. Out of the nine, the first kalasha was used for Baba’s abhishek and the rest of the eight kalashas were used for Maa’s abhishek. Witnessing the abhishek being performed to Baba and Maa was a sight to see as the energy was palpable, electrifying the atmosphere! After the kalasha abhishek, all the devotees and priests stayed in the prayer hall for the madhyaana aarti for Baba. It was beautiful to see everyone come together at the culmination of the exhilarating nine days, for our dear Sai Baba!

Overall, the entire function went very smoothly. Each day, annadhanam was performed during the lunchtime for the crowds of villagers who came to attend the function and all the devotees in the ashram. The food that was cooked for annadhanam during the function was mouth-watering and always was something to look forward to, and the big crowds at lunchtime only increased anticipation to taste the delicious food!  Although it was very very hot and humid, one could easily forget about the heat while being engrossed in the Parayanam recitation, playing with sweet Bashila, and listening to the captivating chanting of the Vedas. Although not held in December like usual, the Sahasra Chandi Homam function went perfectly due to the blessings and grace of Baba and Gurumaa. Having most of our Sai Darshan family here during the function, only emphasized the love and the extraordinarily powerful experience everyone had while being at the ashram for this year’s Sahasra Chandi Homam. 

After the function concluded in mid-April, and all the fervor had calmed down, May brought Agni Nakshatram. The peak heat of the summer was finally here. The heat from the sunny skies mixed with the humidity, was simply overwhelming at times, and it felt like the heat would never ease. The upside of the lack of cool air was the the plentiful mangoes in our ashram! So perhaps due to the abundance of sweet mangoes, it made the heat a little more bearable. As always, with so many mangoes in our ashram, we were sure to make lots and lots of oorgai(achaar), and varieties of dishes made with the sweet and raw mangoes!

On the charitable front, we recently donated 50,000 rupees to the Aatheswara Charitable Trust, which is located in Chennai. This organization was founded by Mr. S. Srikant, and is responsible for sheltering and caring for numerous orphans, elderly, and destitute people. The trust funds all medical expenses, the children’s educational expenses, as well as food and shelter for all, as well. 

Our next event in the upcoming third quarter, is Guru Purnima, which will be held on July 9th. We hope to see all Sai Darshan devotees there! As always, our regular monthly projects continue-including the medical camps, weekly annadhanam, Purnima Puja, and Pradosham Puja.We look forward lots of of love, happiness, and festivities in the upcoming quarters.

 

May Baba’s grace and Maa’s blessings be showered on us all.

Jai Sai Ram Jai Maruthi Jai Maruthi!

 

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