lips that pray: Sai Seva at the Pushkaram
Radio Sai E-Magazine,
September 15, 2003
every twelve years, in the southern part of the Indian peninsula,
millions of people congregate at the temple town of Rajamundry, on
the banks of the mighty river Godavari. They are consumed by only
one desire: to take a dip in the Holy river during this auspicious
period called Pushkaram. The Hindus believe that a dip in the
Godavari during this period rids one of all impurities: physical
and mental. This of course is in consonance with the Hindu
practice of revering all aspects of nature as a direct
manifestation of the Divine. Whatever may be the other religious
or spiritual reasons for this event, the fact is, that over a
period of 12 days, in the month of August 2003, specific spots
along the banks of Godavari witnessed a convergence of lakhs of
people everyday….yes, lakhs of them everyday!
the consequences of such an event. The very numbers implied a
system operating on the edge of chaos…with every possibility of
things going wrong: stampedes, public health disasters, and deaths
by drowning. Moreover, majority of the devotees who came there
belonged to the poorer sections of the society; with just a pair
of clothes, little for their food and a bounty of faith! The
government, of course, did its best to organize this mega event.
But it had its own limitations as far as the resources and
manpower was concerned. This was where many voluntary groups swung
into action and foremost on the list was the Sri Sathya Sai Seva
Organization of Andhra Pradesh.
the 29th of July, 2978 volunteers of the organization gathered at
the Sathya Sai Gurukulam at Rajahmundry and made a commitment to
unto themselves: 'We shall see SAI in every pilgrim we encounter
and serve him/her to the best of our capacity'. Several months of
planning had gone into this event. All the raw materials were
ready. Three buses and four trucks were in place, ready for use.
Every volunteer was given specific duties at specific locations.
The service was to be rendered in turns by batches of thousand
volunteers (600 men, 400 women), for a period of four days each.
Taking the name of SAI, the volunteers plunged into service. One
could see SAI volunteers wherever one went. As soon as one walked
into bus terminals and railway stations, volunteers offering
service in the free cloakroom facility welcomed them. There were
others who gave guidelines on how to reach the bathing ghats. The
volunteers were there near the bathing ghats too, maintaining
cleanliness and helping the old and the disabled to take a dip.
They took care of the children when the parents went for their
holy dip. They prevented stampedes by helping police maintain the
was no outbreak of any kind. Volunteers supplied pure drinking
water, carrying water tanks on their backs. Medical camps were
organized on the banks to tackle any health problems. Others were
seen cleaning the river water of the offerings that the devotees
made. Some others were busy elsewhere preparing large quantities
of food, which was given away in the form of packets, free of cost,
to the pilgrims everyday. The total number of packets given in
these twelve days was a staggering 3,27,750!
numbers would surely have impressed you too. But there was also
quality to this quantity. The pilgrims and the newspapers were all
praise for the wonderful service rendered by the Sathya Sai Seva
Dal. In response to all this one of the young volunteers from
Rajamundry remarked, " We only pray that this little act of
serving His devotees, has pleased Bhagwan!"
Not many of us get a chance to serve the Lord directly…but a
service to those who seek Him, is by itself service unto Him!
JAI SAI RAM
If you have stories from your land, where your people have touched
the lives of others in any little way through their service and
love…let us know about it.
We seek your inspiration on this path, too!