February 13, 2010 – Shivarathri Vigil Concludes in the Divine Presence

Once Swami left the previous night, the Shivarathri vigil began. It is said that there are as many ways to God as there are devotees. Each chooses his/her way to worship God and the Lord responds to each. The vigil too saw varied activities being undertaken. Of course, 'central' to everything was the bhajan singing that was on, alternating between the gents and the ladies. Many devotees undertook a night long fast. At about 9 p.m., once the mikes went off, group bhajans began.

A separate group was formed in a corner of the hall and they began to chant the Rudram. Reading of scriptures and holy books was resorted to by some; others who were of a strong physical constitution began circumambulating the Ganesha temple and the various other temples in the vicinity. Everyone tried to engage themselves in some spiritually beneficial activity or the other.

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The night was deep and at the crack of dawn, the Saishwara lingam was re-adorned with flowers. 6 a.m. saw the mikes being turned on and once again the glory of Lord Shiva, as bhajans, echoed everywhere in the Nilayam. Ten minutes later, there was a hush and an outburst of Joy as the familiar orange of Swami's robe was seen at the western end of the hall.

Swami had arrived and He was once again on the special throne chair. As He moved through the ladies side and reached the centre of the hall, He was requested to bless the prasadam and Swami gladly agreed. Swami moved through the centre aisle to the Northern gate of Sai Kulwant Hall. Huge vessels holding chakrapongal (sweetened rice) and pulihora (tamarind rice) had been impressively arrayed.

Swami took the small "broom" made of sacred grasses and began to gently sprinkle water on the prasadam vessels; He moved along the entire array doing this. Some people were concerned about Swami having to go to all the vessels. But Swami Himself was very keen and He kept sprinkling water on all the containers. After that was done, He moved back through the aisle and continued to the stage. He arrived on the dais and sat for the bhajans. Everyone now perked up.

Sleep was definitely overpowering a few but it was no match to the glow that Swami brought. Active bhajan singing resounded in the hall. After a while, Swami allowed for the prasadam to be brought and kept in the front on the respective sides. Once that was done, Swami moved towards the Bhajan Hall.

He blessed vessels of food there and also gave some instructions on distribution. He then had a look at the leaves on which the prasadam would be served. Some things in life do not change and Swami's meticulous attention when it comes to devotees certainly tops the list. He then moved out of the Bhajan Hall from the rear door and made His way to the side area where the alumni generally sit.

He saw the arrangements that had been made for the prasadam distribution. Satisfied, He took a full darshan round in the reverse direction and the devotees were simply too happy. Moving through the gents and students, He went to the ladies too. Now, He arrived on the stage and once again, after a few bhajans, moved into the Bhajan Hall. This time, He took another round and traversed the path that had been neglected till now - the one in the front bordered by students.

It was 7:10 a.m. when He arrived on the stage and midway through a bhajan by the boys, asked for the aarthi. Even as the aarthi went on, the prasadam distribution began - leaves followed by tasty pulihora and pongal. And as all the devotees were being served, Swami moved into the interview room. It was shortly before 8 a.m. that He retired for the morning.

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