Swarna Gowri Puja Celebrations – September 12, 2018
Gowri Puja is a special Vrata observed by married ladies in the month of Bhadrapada Thruthiya of Indian calendar, a day before Ganesh Chaturthi. Goddess Gowri, wife of Lord Shiva, the mother of Lord Ganesha and Lord Subramanya is worshiped throughout India. This Puja has a special significance for married women as it is believed that Goddess Parvati or Gauri blesses the husbands with longevity, wealth and prosperity. A golden statue of Goddess Gowri was placed on the stage of Sri Sathya Sai Sai Premamrutham Hall and Puja was offered to the deity in the elaborate traditional manner.
The Hall was filled with ladies who were observing the Vrata and were following the instructions provided by the priests for the completion of the Puja. All the materials needed for the ritual including water, idol, and other related items were provided to the participants and from time to time, instructions in English were provided so that they could follow the procedure according to the norms.
For more than two hours, the Puja was performed including offerings through Stotras, and musical instruments among other items. At the end, a special Gowri Arati was offered to the Goddess followed by the Mangala Arati and marking the successful completion of the Vrata.
Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations – September 13, 2018
Worshipped and revered at the beginning of literally everything, whether worldly or spiritual, Lord Ganesha is the deity that represents many attributes and characteristics that humans aspire to attain—be it the control over senses, knowledge, power, and even enjoying the subtleties of life. In the Bhadrapada month of the Indian calendar, the fourth day marks the birth of the Lord Ganesha, and the festival goes on for ten days.
On this auspicious day, Swami came to Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham and offered flowers to the beautifully decorated idol of Lord Ganesha. As is a custom, the story of Syamantaka Mani, the blessed jewel of the Sun-God, was retold in Kannada by Sri Sanjeeva Shetty, Senior Trustee of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Group of Institutions, and was translated in English by Brother Anantha Krishna, Staff and Deputy Warden of Vidya Kendra.
For around half an hour, the duo regaled the audience with the story and how Lord Krishna cleared himself from the blame and also provided an alternative for the devotees to rescue themselves from the curse, which states that a person who sees the moon on this day will incur a blame on himself without any reason. It is a beautiful story where Lord Krishna shows us how to navigate the worldly affairs with equanimity and without losing hope and faith.
Thereafter, Ashtawadhana Seva was offered to Lord Ganesha in the traditional and ritualistic way involving Shastras, Puranas, Stotras, Bhajans, music, etc. After the completion of the ritual, Swami went around the hall blessing all the devotees and students with Akshata.
A special Ganesha Arati was offered to Bhagawan followed by the Mangala Arati, and thus the morning programme came to an end.
In the evening, escorted by the Vedam Group, Swami came to the Premamrutham Hall from the stage-side and took a full round of the Hall blessing the devotees, accepting letters, encouraging and counselling, and guiding them on various matters. The programme commenced with the chanting of Atma Suktam by the first-year students of the Pre-University College.
Sri B N Narasimha Murthy then spoke about the beautiful and unique relationship between Swami and His pet elephant, Sai Geeta. Sri Narasimha Murthy also recalled many instances of how Sai Geeta was the torchbearer of unsullied devotion towards Swami and served as a beacon for other devotees. He then talked in detail about various scriptures and texts that act as the signposts of Hindu Religion and how through the benediction of sages, even the common folks could understand the highest truths talked about in the Vedas and Upanishads.
Thereafter, Swami blessed everybody with His Divine Message. He revealed that the Sloka, Shukalambardharam Vishnum Shashivarnam Chaturbhujam is composed by Sage Vyasa for Lord Ganesha and not for Lord Vishnu as is popularly believed. He also talked about the characteristics of Lord Ganesha as Shaktitrayatamkah—the one who is the embodiment or the overlord of all the three types of powers, namely, physical prowess, willpower, and knowledge. Bhagawan then exhorted everyone to worship Lord Ganesha, because He not only removes the obstacles that we face in our worldly life, but also for the spiritual progress.
Bhagawan then commanded the Bhajan Group to sing Ganesha Bhajans, and after receiving Mangala Arati, He retired for the day.