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  Volume 4 - Issue 03
MARCH 2006
 
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STIRRING SAI SEVA IN MALAYSIA
- Two Inspiring Accounts

Here are two accounts of seva carried out at mammoth gatherings of devotees at Lord Murugan's shrines in Malaysia. It is heartwarming to learn how, in one instance, the Sai volunteers made every effort to help those unable to have Darshan, and in the other, break a Malaysian national record - read on to know more!

The spark of tears in their eyes gave me the happiness of a lifetime, not because I have achieved something great but to remind me to be more grateful to God for having an able body.’

This was the moving comment from a volunteer who had helped physically and/or mentally challenged pilgrims have Darshan of Lord Murugan during the festival of Thaipusam, at a hill top temple in Malaysia.

Thaipusam is celebrated on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (Jan/Feb). Pusam refers to a star that is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates both the birthday of Lord Murugan, the youngest son of Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati, and the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel (lance) so he could vanquish the demon Soorapadam.

 

In Malaysia, Thaipusam attracts mammoth numbers of devotees. Over 1,000,000 people congregate at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur and 200,000 at the Waterfall Temple, Penang . Heart2Heart is pleased to inform you about the wonderful seva carried out by the Malaysian Sai devotees at these two sites during the festival period from 10th-11th February, 2006 .

Sai Seva at the Waterfall Temple, Penang

 
Food was taken at base camp
 
The ascent up to the temple....

The Waterfall Temple is located at the top of a steep hill. Many devotees make their way there to worship Lord Murugan and to climb up is part of the ritual and penance. But the Sai devotees of Brown Garden Centre, Penang, became concerned for those people who are unable to climb up due to physical disabilities. They are forced to remain frustrated at the bottom, while their relatives go up to the top to receive the blessings on this holy day. It was indeed a sight to pity.

 

Emboldened by the teachings of Lord Sai to help those in need, they formed themselves into special palanquin teams to convey the yearning physically challenged pilgrims to have Darshan of Lord Murugan.

This seva activity was aptly called ‘Journey to God’ and it became so for both the sevaks and the disabled people. The palanquins were handmade by the Sai volunteers themselves and each was carried by 4 devotees with one man to oversee the safety of the disabled devotee and to make way through the crowds up the steps.

Upon reaching the bottom of the hill the disabled pilgrims were given food by the lady volunteers. Then, to invoke Swami’s blessings before commencing the climb the volunteers chanted Ganapati Prarthana, Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, Narayana Upanishad, Sai Gayatri and performed Arthi to Swami’s picture. Then, they began the ascent and reached the temple after one hour.

We take you through this holy journey with a series of pictures, showing one gentleman’s complete ‘Journey to God’.

 
We follow this gentleman....
 
He is going through the crowds...

 
The ascent begins...
 
Smiling, as he climbs higher...

 
Now it is steep!
 
At last holy Darshan...

Finally, the disabled people were able to feast their eyes and fill their hearts at sacred Lord Murugan’s shrine. Many were in tears at this longed for opportunity come true. Some of them had brought milk with them, so that they could perform Abhisheka (worship) for Lord Murugan.

Here you see two other disabled boys being lovingly carried to the lord.

 
This boy is about to set off ...
 
He looks very happy...

 
Strong young men are carrying him ....
 
This is service to see God...

So, there were all kinds of people who were carried to the top – elders, physically and mentally chanllenged children and adults. If there is one thing that was common to all - the ones who were being served and the ones serving – it is the smiling joy on thier faces. It was a truly joyful spiritual odyssey.

In all, 21 disabled people were blessed by Lord Murugan’s Darshan that day, thanks to the Sai volunteers. One young boy could not stop speaking of his experience for the whole day. Many of the disabled are not able to speak and could not convey their feelings, or were too young, but their parents were in tears at the sacred gift of Darshan that was given to their wards.

 
This man is taken up...
 
And another boy...

One volunteer said ‘When I saw the smile in their faces, it was a heart-felt satisfaction because I managed to help them experience a lifetime joy seeing Lord Muruga on such an auspicious day. It was a wonderful feeling making another person happy.’ The volunteers numbered 140. An interesting aside is that only 70 were from the Sai Organisation. The remaining 70 were young people from a squatter village which the Sai Centre had adopted some time ago and for which they had been conducting Bal Vikas classes. By God’s Grace the inspiring flame of seva had spread to them.

All the volunteers were overjoyed that they had made this holy pilgrimage possible for so many. One volunteer mentioned that,

‘The joy of the disabled in getting Lord Muruga's Darshan was the greatest gift that I have earned.’

And another echoed these feelings, ‘To see the special kids and adults smiling in joy, finally able to go up the stairs to the temple was just wonderful.’

Truly there is no greater joy than bringing a smile to another’s face and happiness shared is really happiness doubled.

Record Breaking Blood Donation at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

It is at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, where the wish to have Lord Murugan’s Darshan reaches overwhelming proportions. On 30th Jan 2006, the world’s largest statue of Lord Murugan was unveiled at the base of the ascent to the caves - 140 ft tall and gold painted. Over one million people throng there in the fervour of devotion during the Thaipusam festival.

It was here that the second seva event was held, when the Sai Organisation in conjunction with the Malaysian Blood Bank set up camp at the festival site with 80 beds ready for blood donors’ comfort. This amazing mega blood donation drive broke the Malaysian record, reaching 2,330 pints over a 35 hour period.

The Sai Organisation also organized non-stop singing of devotional songs from top Malaysian Indian artists for 36 hours to inspire the devotees and attract them to come forward to give blood. Behind them was the source of their inspiration in the form of a large picture of Swami.

The authorities gave the space used free of charge and a prestigious radio station supported and covered the event, encouraging its listeners to donate to save lives. In fact this time of year heralds celebrations of Chinese New Year, a major Muslim festival and Thaipusam. The 5 days of holidays unfortunately leads to many road accidents – thus there is a vital need for blood in all hospitals.

 

 

Some volunteers were present for 48 hours! They looked after the donors many of whom were donating for the first time, moved to come forward by the singing, prayers and the festival atmosphere.

The Star Newspaper covered the event under the headline ‘2,330 blood donations collected in just a day’ and mentioned that “The National Blood Bank and the Sathya Sai Council of Malaysia could have achieved a record by collecting 2,330 blood donations in a single day at the Thaipusam celebrations in Batu Caves.”  The Star 12th Feb 2006 .

At the same time, in the cities of Ipoh, Penang and Johore Bharu, Sai Centres held similar blood donation days, where a further 364 pints of blood were collected.

Heart2Heart is very pleased to pass on to you, dear reader, these two accounts of inspiring seva. It is wonderful what can be done with God’s grace, disciplined organisation and a will to make a positive difference to the world.

- Heart2Heart Team.


 
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Vol 4 Issue 03 - March 2006
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