NEWSLETTER - Last Quarter - 2020


            Sai Ram Jai Maruthi Jai Maruthi! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and welcome to this quarter's newsletter!  Our last quarter of 2020 was filled with many exciting events, from Navarathri, Deepavali, Kartigai Deepam, Christmas, Homi Baba's birthday, New Year’s function and the Shri Dhanvantari Mahayagnya function in December.

             On October 11th, our quarter began with homams for Lord Ganesha, Prathyangra Devi, Rudra, Purushasukta, Shri Sukta, and Navagraha. At this time in October, the pandemic had reached a peak in India and cases were multiplying exponentially. These homams were therefore held to invoke peace, to remove all obstacles, and to bring forth good health, happiness, and most of all, strength.

             Continuing the quarter of festivities, Navaratri, began on October 17th and was celebrated by performing a Kali puja on each day. Usually Kali in most parts of India is feared for her ferocious nature, but here in the ashram she expresses her all powerful, yet divine motherly love to all who take her darshan. There was a special puja that was performed each day during which portions of Chandi Parayanam were recited everyday, and daily rendering of Sri Lalitha Sahasranama. A different variety of sundal was made for offering, on all 9 days! We were overwhelmed by Mother Kalis divine grace and presence!

             On the ninth day of Navarathri, ‘Navami,’ Saraswati Puja was done in the morning along with carrying out all the customs followed by all students. Usually on this day, students keep their books in front of Goddess Saraswati during the puja. And on the following morning on Vijayadashami, students read one or two lines from those same books, seeking the blessings of Saraswati for a promising year in their academics.

             Every Navaratri is more special for Sai devotees because it culminates with Baba’s Mahasamadhi Day, which falls on Vijayadashami-which this year, fell on October 25th. On this day, our Gurumaa did a special abhishek for the idols of Homi Baba and Shirdi Baba! Bhajans were also sung to commemorate this auspicious day and to honor and worship our beloved Shirdi Sai Baba. Vijayadashami is the day that our dear Shri Shirdi Sai Baba left his mortal coil to merge with the cosmic universe.  Though Baba is omnipresent, Vijaydashami is the single most celebrated day of the year to receive the grace and worship our Sai Baba. On Dashami, we also performed Ayudha Puja, which in simple terms, means “worship of instruments.” On this day, all the tools that are used on a daily basis are worshipped. All the tools and instruments used by the staff in the ashram and in the annadhanam hall, were worshipped. This included the worship of our pots and pans, utensils, the car, lawnmower, and so many other items that are used for daily living.

             Deepavali fell on November 14th, 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. Following Deepavali, was Kartigai Deepam on November 29th. Here in our ashram the entire temple, prayer hall, and ashram were lit with hundreds of lamps! It was a beautiful sight to witness!

             All these functions led up to our December function, which started on December 9th  and culminated on the 13thevening. We dearly missed all the devotees that could not make it due to the pandemic, however, the health and safety of all devotees comes as first priority. We look forward to the next function when we all will be together once again. Though we were missing so many members of our Sai Darshan family, we made sure to commemorate this annual function as we always do, with just as much positivity, optimism, joy, and love for all!

             Beginning on the 9th morning, Taila Kappu was performed for both sets of Ganapathi and Dhanvantari idols, in front of the Yaagashala with Maa and a few devotees present. Simultaneously, across from the yagashaala, in line with the Dhwajastambam, a 9 feet deep pit was dug. Maa had instructed to place two earthen pots filled with butter, navadhaanyam, ghee, dry fruits, and nuts, and covered with a cloth, inside the pit. The earthen pots were supposed to have rested neatly on the ground beneath them, but due to the heavy rains that befell Chennai following Cyclone Nivar, the water level within the pit kept rising to nearly 7 feet! It was a challenge to figure out a method to drain the water for the earthen pots to rest on the ground. Maa herself sat for more than 2 hours, and then instructed us to dip the pots in the water so that they would sink to the ground, and indeed, they sank. After the earthen pots were kept inside the pit, the latter was filled with dirt, covered by one layer of bricks on top. Baba’s further instructions were to create a square by placing a stick in each corner. These were tied and decorated by mavu yellai thoranam (mango leaves). Following this, the Likhita Japam books which were collected from all devotees, were to be placed beneath the two Ganapathi and two Dhanvantari idols. Maa remained in the yaagashala to guide devotees as to the proper placement of all the books. The Likhita Japam books were placed on a 10x3 plank, and 1 kilo of karpuram (camphor) was placed in between the books as instructed by Baba. These books were then covered with another set of planks, and a white cloth. The 4 idols were then placed on top of this cloth, and were kept as so, throughout the function.

             Then, on the 9th evening, our function festivities officially began with the Dhwajaarohanam (flag hoisting) of our temple flag, as is done before each annual function. This was done alongside worship to Raksha Ganapathi, and the four Dhwajastambam devatas-Ganapathi, Garuda, Shri Chakra, and Hanuman. Following this, we began our Rathotsavam (chariot-procession). A new idol of Baba was placed on a decorated golden chariot, adorned with a beautiful vastram, stunning alankaram, and lights surrounding Him. Baba’s original padukas were also placed in the front. While several devotees pulled the chariot around the temple-side, other devotees fanned Baba with chamaras, and a group of Nadaswaram and Thavil musicians led our devotees in singing bhajans in honor of our dear Shirdi Baba! What an exhilarating start to our function! This continued on after Dhup Aarti, for the next 4 days!

             On the 10th, the morning began with the usual Ganapati Puja, Go Puja, and Guru Puja, as the preliminary pujas. Over the course of the four days, these pujas were performed before starting the homams. Ganapathi Homam was performed to remove all obstacles on our paths going forth. Sudarshana Homam was done for protection and to destroy any negativity. Yoga Narasimha Homam was performed to destroy our inner fear which is inherently the root connection for all attachments that we form during our lifetimes, Dhanvantari Homam was done for the purpose of inner healing, detoxification, and overall good health. Rudra Homam was performed to invoke Lord Rudra to bless us with all spiritual and material success. Shri Suktam Homam was done to bring forth prosperity and auspiciousness. Lastly, Navagraha Homam was performed in worship of the nine celestial bodies, to grace us and protect us in every walk of life. These Homams were done over the course of the four days. During the homams, 108 Ritviks were worshipped in the yaagashala, while simultaneously, 9 Dhampatis (to represent the divine mother and father) and 18 Suvasinis (to represent the divine Goddess) were worshipped in the main hall. These pujas also occurred throughout the function time. Everyday, after the homams were completed, the final offering was a saree that was offered into the Agni. Throughout the 4 days, 9 sarees were offered into the Agni. On the last day, the 13th, the Mahapurnahuti was performed, in which all types of dried fruits, nuts, ghee, etc. were offered into the Agni. Following the Mahapurnahuti, the main vadyar, renowned Shri Thiruvaindai K. Maalola Kannan, gave an engaging talk regarding the significance of pujas and homams. As mentioned before, each evening of the function was filled with enlivening and energetic vibes during the Rathotsavam. The Nadaswaram and Thavil musicians continued to lead us with bhajans which filled the air with zest and fervor. Devotees fanned Baba with chamaras, pulled Baba’s chariot, and our dear Maa danced with several devotees, enhancing the positivity and joy in the air! After the final parikrama around the temple-side on the last day, the Dhwajaavarohanam (flag-lowering) was performed. The function had officially come to an end. The four days had passed by as quickly as they had come. The whole annual function was completed, leaving us with full hearts and full stomachs (the food was absolutely mouth-watering). During the function, as we perform weekly annadhanam with dry provisions to surrounding villages, the same was done daily during these 5 days.

             As the year wrapped up, the last few events of the year included Christmas and Homi Baba’s birthday! Christmas, as always was celebrated with lots of festivity. Abhishek was done in the morning for Infant Jesus, followed by a celebration in the evening, when all devotees, children and adults alike participated.  The decorations included lights, decorations, a Christmas Tree, a dancing Santa, along with candles, which were lit by everyone in the ashram while singing Christmas carols. We enjoyed by distributing cake and chocolates to all those who attended!

             Homi Baba's birthday is also a huge celebration in the ashram. There was a special abhishek done for Homi Baba in the morning. To mark the joyous event, Homi Baba’s sannadhi was grandly and elegantly decorated. A special puja was performed by Maa after which she led everyone with bhajans full of love for and devotion to our beloved Paramaguru. Maa then cut 5 cakes which was then distributed along with mixture, chocolate, and some sweet- to all devotees and especially the workers who are working night and day on our ashram/temple renovation project. Homi Baba’s birthday was an extra special one for all. Maa was especially elated, and moved. The happiness she felt seeing the workers enjoy the food that we served, the gratitude that she could see on their faces, was extremely moving for Maa. This inner happiness from serving others, ties back into the ideals that Maa was raised with. To always put others before yourself, the importance of sharing with others even if it means less for yourself at the time, and most of all-giving to others, unconditionally. Homi Baba’s birthday this year was a beautiful reminder of these ideals, and Maa remembers her father and Homi Baba on this day, and ties in wonderfully, to the mission of Sri Sai Darshan Trust-to spread the message of selfless love and service to all humanity regardless of caste, creed, and religion. These ideals and values form part of Maa’s main teaching to us as her devotees. May we strive to embody these qualities and genuinely lead our lives with these values at the front of our minds.

             The last major event of our year was our annual New Year’s celebrations. On New Year's Eve, devotees gathered in the hall close to midnight to wish Baba a happy new year. Due to the pandemic however, no one from outside was present for the midnight abhishek. However, ashram devotees present for the function, were allowed into the altar to do abhishek for Baba, by themselves. At midnight, Maa did the Aarti for Baba and distributed the new 2021 calendars and sweets to everyone!

             This quarter was especially busy in terms of ashram activities! We have started a new construction/renovation project, had a new shed built, as well as beginning the construction of a new structure for all the Likhita Japam books.

             On the the renovation front, all the flooring on the temple side is in the process of being completely redone! UltraTech company is heading this project, and is working relentlessly to make sure everything is done smoothly. This includes the parikrama flooring as well as the pavement in between each sannadhi. Even small areas, within the ashram have been redone, such as the area right next to the veranda. The new concrete was poured, laid, leveled, and set. It was then stamped, to give a tile-look finish. The process is still ongoing, but should be completed by the first week of January. It is such a refreshing and welcome change to our ashram and temple!

             Next, we welcomed a new car to our Sai Darshan family, and for the new car, a new shed has been built! This shed is closed on all sides so that the car will be completely covered when parked.

             Finally, our upcoming construction project involves all the Likhita Japam books. In the area where the pit was dug, in front of the Yaagashala, Baba has instructed to build a temple structure similar to the base of the Dhwajastambam and fill it with all of our Likhita Japam books. Then, an idol Lord Dhanvantari will be installed on top of a Padma Peedam, with a lamp lit in between. Baba has emphasized repeatedly the importance and significance of the Likhita Japam sadhana, and how essential these books are. Beneath the Earth where the pit is dug, the two earthen pots hold rice, ghee, dry fuits, nuts, etc., which all form the most nutritious parts of the food groups. These foods mixed with the healing properties invoked by the Likhita Japam books within the new Dhanvantari temple, will give our Earth and all of its beings, what it needs to sustain, be healthy, and strong, especially during this pandemic.

           On the charity front, SSDT was quite active this quarter. First off, as mentioned in the previous newsletter, Ganapathi and Dhanvantari idols were made and worshipped during this December function. A second set of Ganapathi and Dhanvantari idols were made during this quarter. Each set of the idols will be given to the Adyar Cancer Institute and Sundaram Medical Foundation, respectively.
Padma Vibhushan Dr. Shanta, co-founder/director of the Adyar Cancer Institute herself expressed how she felt in despair this year. She had intensely prayed for God to show some way out of this darkness, and shed light on all. When she received a call from SSDT, regarding donating two idols of Lord Ganesha and Lord Dhanvantari, she felt God’s grace, as He himself is coming to her hospital to ease the suffering of all those under her care. SSDT is now constructing a temple for Lord Dhanvantari and Lord Ganesha to be installed. Maa and a few devotees from SSDT will be present for the installation function. This just exemplifies how God is always there with us, especially when our intentions are earnest and pure-hearted.

             Sundaram Medical Foundation is newly constructing a hospital, designed specifically for Covid-19 patients. A temple will also be constructed for Lord Dhanvantari and Lord Ganesha to be installed.

             Next, SSDT has been donating on average 30,000 rupees worth of groceries, per week, to people in surrounding villages, since the beginning of the lockdown. In this time, access to basic necessities and groceries is tough for many people in villages. Each week, when our ashram annadhanam would usually be taking place, volunteers from SSDT, distribute packages of groceries which include rice, oil, 2 types of dal, sugar, soap, noodles and jaggery. These groceries are distributed to approximately 50 families each week!

             Although this quarter was busy and full of festivity, Sri Sai Darshan and our ashram family, suffered an irreparable loss. Sripadha Anna’s mother, Prema Mami, passed away on December 29th, here in our divine ashram, surrounded by Sripadha Anna and Rajappa Mama. By Baba’s and Maa’s grace, Prema Mami did not suffer in her last moments, and transitioned into Baba’s care, peacefully. Prema Mami was a beloved devotee, mother, sister, and friend, and has been a part of our ashram family for many, many years. Her years of service and devotion to Baba, Maa, and this institution, are commendable. She will be deeply missed and always remembered in our hearts.

             Though this year left us feeling dark and uncertain so many times, we must look past and be grateful to Maa and Baba for their ever-present guidance, blessings, and grace, and for continuously showing us that there is in fact always light even in the darkest times. We must be positive, spread love, and be open to receiving love, and adapt our lifestyles to the changes that come- to ensure good health. As our SSDT family starts a new year and a new quarter, may we pray for good health, strength, positivity, and love among all!

             As mentioned in the previous newsletters, the precautions and instructions given by Maa are to be followed strictly on a daily basis. Though the Likhita Japam books have been collected, Maa has instructed us to keep writing on a daily basis, to continue to give us inner strength, healing, and detoxification.

             As always, it goes without saying that the Poornima puja, Pradosham puja,  are taking place without fail. As of early September, Sri Sai Darshan Trust, opened up the temple to the public only on Thursdays. All preventative and safety measures have been implemented and are being strictly enforced. Medical camps which occur on every second Saturday have been placed on hold for the time-being due to the pandemic. As Annadhanam also cannot take place in the ashram, as explained above, packaged groceries are being distributed to people in surrounding villages, by SSDT. We thank you, all devotees and well-wishers, for your continuous support. Here’s to a wonderful quarter and year filled with love, happiness, and good health!


Welcome to 2021! 


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


Jai Sai Ram Jai Maruthi Jai Maruthi!