NEWSLETTER - Last Quarter 2017

Dear Sai Brothers and Sisters,

             Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and welcome to this quarter's newsletter!  Our last quarter of 2017 was filled with many exciting events, from Deepavali, Kartigai Deepam, Christmas, and Homi Baba's birthday to our much-awaited December function, the 18-Siddha’s Ashtabandhana Mahakumbabishekam.

             Our first quarter began with Deepavali, during which the entire ashram and temple were magnificently lit up with lamps, similar to the way that Baba would decorate Dwarakamai with lights every day. Bhajans were also sung in celebration. Following Deepavali, was Kartigai Deepam. This festival commemorates the supreme Lord Sada Shiva who appeared as an incredibly luminous pillar of light, baffling Lord Vishnu and Brahma.  In the famous south Indian temple town of Thiruvanamalai, on Kartigai Deepam, on the hill of Arunachalam, a huge jyothi (flame) is lit. This flame requires thousands of liters of ghee to fuel. It is a sight that can be witnessed from more than a mile away.  Here in our ashram the entire temple and prayer hall was lit with hundreds of lamps and Hanuman Chalisa was chanted in unison by all devotees. The altar in particular was lit with 108 lamps! It was a beautiful sight to witness!

             The main event for this quarter was the 18-Siddha’s Ashtabandhana Mahakumbabishekam, which fell between the 25th-28th of December. We were delighted to have the Sri Sai Darshan family all together once again to celebrate this notable function!

             On the 25th evening, the Purvaanga (preliminary) pujas for the function, were conducted by ten pundits. The 25th also marked the cheerful day of Christmas, which is always celebrated with a grand celebration in the ashram. This year, special abhishek was done for Infant Jesus in the morning, followed by a celebration in the evening, where all devotees, children and adults alike participated.  The decorations included a Christmas tree and lights, along with the lighting of 108 candles all around the ashram. To spread the spirit of Christmas, and the feeling of festivity, all the young devotees of our ashram sang Christmas carols. One of our devotees even led the rest of the devotees in a chanting of a Christian prayer. To conclude the evening, Maa distributed chocolates to all the devotees to commemorate this special day.

             The following day, on the 26th morning, Ganapathy Puja, Go Puja, and Guru Puja were performed. This was followed by Ganapathy, Navagraha, Nakshatra and Shanti Homams. These pujas and homams were done every day of the function. Concurrently to the homams that were performed by our devotees, the priests continued with vedic chanting in the main hall. Since our main goal of all devotees was to each chant the 27 nakshatra names starting one month before the December function, we continued with the number “27” as our theme for the Kanya puja and Suvasini Puja which was also performed on this day. In the afternoon, Sri Chandi Parayanam was chanted along with Lalitha Sahasranamam. The 26th also denoted, our beloved Homi Baba’s birthday, which is always grandly celebrated in our ashram. This year, there was a special abhishek done for Homi Baba in the morning. In the evening, bhajans were sang and Homi Baba’s prayer was chanted, by all those in attendance. To top the festivities, 3-4 delicious cakes made especially by the devotees, were cut and shared by all the devotees in the ashram. Almost 100 people were in attendance on this occasion!

             The 27th denoted the day of the 27-Nakshatra Homam. To continue with the theme of “27,” the Vaduka Puja and Dampathi Puja were performed. After the regular poojas in the morning were completed, the 27-Nakshatra Homam commenced. What was special about this homam was that, the devotees themselves performed this homam with the grace and blessings of Baba and Maa. The priests concurrently performed vedic chantings inside the hall while all the devotees performed the 27-Nakshatra homam in unison in the yagashala. This homam was performed as a prayer for positivity to encompass us among all the negativity in the world, and to pray for world peace. Following the homam in the morning, the priests convened in the evening to chant Parayanam and Lalitha Sahasranamam.

             The last day of the function took place on the 28th. The day marked a momentous occasion in the ashram! The devotees were positively stunned, surprised, and overjoyed to see our beloved Maa, in a divine alankaram for the final day of the function! All the devotees were overwhelmed with emotion to see Maa in this element during the homam.

            As the name of the function denotes, the main event was the 18- Siddha temple’s Ashtabandhana Mahakumbabishekam. The Siddhas have  always been a constant presence in our ashram, blessing us daily. We are grateful to have had Siddhapurushas among us in our ashram for the past two decades. To pay homage to the Siddhas, and to have a place of direct focus, we installed a Siddha Sanadhi as a form of gratitude and to offer our prayers to the 18 Siddhas for their blessings. The ashram was filled with strong and positive vibrations, felt by all those who attended. This installation marks a whole new chapter in our ashram, and we are eternally grateful for the Siddhas’ presence and their blessings! What makes the day even more special is that approximately 1400 people were in attendance to witness and be a part of this significant moment! Following the Kumbabishekam, all the devotees and priests, made their way back into the main hall to offer their prayers to our beloved, Gurumaa by performing a Padha Puja. All the devotees were full of gratitude, respect, and love for our Guru and for her continual blessings. It was a beautiful sight to see everyone come together to celebrate and honor our beloved Gurumaa on this notable occasion! After the padha puja, everyone stayed in the main hall for the noon arati. As this final function day fell on a Thursday, Annadhanam was also performed, with almost 1400 people in attendance!

 Maa has declared Sri Sai Darshan to be a temple of high spiritual energy by virtue of the countless service and spiritual activities, which have been performed over the past 20 years.  Sri Sai Darshan maintains a Go Samrakshan. We serve the society each month by way of free medicalcamps,  we have sponsored numerous eye surgeries and operations, given glasses and free medicines to the poor, annadhanam for thousands of people, we have performed 3 Shatha Chandi and 2 Sahasra Chandi Maha Yagas, athi rudram and over 50 Chandi Homams. We have performed many Ganapathy Homams and nearly a thousand Dhanvanthari Homams in Canada, U.S.A. the Gulf, all over India, and right here in our ashram.  We have also provided financial assistance to

other charitable organizations who care for those with mental disabilities, victims of abuse, blindness, physical handicaps, and the list goes on. Maa says the purest way to serve God is through selflessly serving humanity.  By serving others, we are not wasting any of our own energy our power, but on the contrary, our service for others, empowers us. We become empowered with God's grace and blessings.

             The last major event of our year was our annual New Year’s celebrations. On New Year's Eve, 250 devotees gathered in the hall close to midnight to wish Baba a happy new year. As usual, everyone was allowed into the sanctum sanctorum to do abhishek for Baba, by themselves.  At midnight, Maa did the Aarthi for Baba and distributed the new 2018 calendars and laddus to everyone.

             This year was full of surprises, happiness, and wonderful moments. We are humbly grateful to Gurumaa and to Baba for their ever-present blessings and grace, and we look forward to another exciting year for the Sai Darshan family!

             Aside from the special events, our regular monthly projects continue, including the medical camps, weekly annadhanam, bi-monthly visits to Veerapuram, Purnima Puja, and Pradosham Puja.

             May Baba’s grace and Maa’s blessings be showered on us all. Jai Sai Ram Jai Maruthi Jai Maruthi!