Post No.6

Sai Ram!!!
It was Maha Shivaratri morning! 7th March 2016
This would be our last visit to this sacred place on this trip.
 The place where the Lord of the Universe chose to make His first appearance at this very spot 90 years ago!

 Swami's Birthplace Backyard

Swami's Parents 
 A Shivalayam (Temple of Lord Shiva) now stands in place of the house where Bhagawan was born. Bhagawan was born on 23rd November 1926, a Karthika Somavara according to the Hindu calendar, and a day traditionally devoted to the worship of Lord Shiva.

After breakfast, my son and I had raced back to the Shivalayam Temple.
The priest said the day before, that there would be a pooja and abhishekams to Lord Sai Shiva starting around 10am.
 It was also a Monday!
 (Monday is considered sacred for the worship of Lord Shiva)
We got there around 9.45am

It was packed with devotees doing salutations and offerings.
 There was a queue going in to the inner sanctum.
 Vedic chanting, mainly Sri Rudram and Shiva mantras were being constantly chanted,
 as people lined up to get in for His Divine blessings.

We finally got in and just plunked ourselves at the back, hoping Swami would allow us to stay.
As in previous years, if you bring a video camera, you would normally be told only to film from the outside.
 Not inside!
But not this time!
Not a word was said from anyone.
The resident priest even acknowledged our presence.
I felt Swami approved of us being there.
Finding the space to setup with a tripod was very difficult indeed without disturbing anyone
 or taking up any unnecessary space.
It was a very tight squeeze.
But somehow we managed.
As devotees filed in they were told to leave through the other gate on the left
 after they did their pranams.

There was a large group of ladies chanting Sri Rudram etc.

Even on the men's side, there was hardly any room to move.

For around 30 mins, streams of devotees filed in and out.
The divine energy was ...heaven!!!
It quietened down a bit and a lot of people started leaving.
A chance to quickly circumambulate around the temple 3 times and
stretch ourselves, as I was told that we might be in there for at least a couple of hours.
That's how long the main pooja would be going for.
We waited! Enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. It was very hot even at that time of the morning.

 Here is a video, I put together during that short time.

Not long after devotees started pouring in again.
 Priests, I recognized from Prasanthi Nilayam, had started arriving.
 Suddenly, we realized we needed to get back in to the inner sanctum,
 as the Maha Rudrabhishekam was about to begin.
For awhile, it seemed unlikely we could, as many had lined up.
We finally did....JUST!
 They even locked the gates intermittently soon afterwards, so no-one else could get in.
It was packed to the brim. Not one space was available.
Somehow, I could quickly setup again with tripod. No room to move!
Squashed against the metal barrier. There were oil lamps burning just a few inches away.
Someone kept warning me to be careful not to catch fire!
Soon, the five priests were chanting the Sri Rudram and started pouring water over Lord Shiva...Saieshwara!

 Maha Rudrabhishekam performed had special offerings to the Lord Shiva.
 The offerings included milk, curd, ghee, honey, sugar, fruits, tender coconut water, flower, yellow rice, sandalwood paste, vibhuti, bilva leaves, sugar candy juice, rudraksha, turmeric, kumkum (vermillion) etc. with each individual offerings bearing spiritual religious significance.
 These offerings are meant to appease the Indweller within, Who is verily Sai Shiva.

Lord Shiva Who is hailed as Abhisheka Priya is mightly pleased with such sacred offerings.

Sri Rudram was chanted continually.

Other Shiva mantras & Vedic chants were recited by all also.

The pooja went for over two hours.

Here is the video, I put together of this sacred pooja.

May Lord Sai Shiva bestow His blessings on you while watching this!!!

Note: A few hiccups occurred during the proceedings with the camera, so was not able to fully film everything.
 Got most it...though!
 The camera battery charge expired just before the end. Borrowed my son's mobile phone to record the final arati.

Here's some screenshots taken from the video.

Afterwards we headed back to Prasanthi to get some lunch. It was around 1pm.
Then took some rest.
It was getting close to the evening program in Prasanthi, so we decided to stay there, making sure we could get in to Sai Kulwant Hall for the Saieshwara Abhishekams and offerings to the white Lingam.
We were fortunate to get in close for the proceedings starting around 4.30pm.
At 6pm the all night Akhanda Bhajans started.
We stayed till late evening, intending to go back through the night.
I had also planned to film the Pooja's/Bhajans etc being performed around Parthi at midnight.
But due to the long day starting around 4.30am... tiredness finally took over!
Unfortunately, I could not stay awake.
Awoke again around 3.30am and headed back to Sai Kulwant Hall for the final two hours of the Akhanda Bhajan.
It finished at 6am.
Swami was present!
We were all blessed with prasadam at the conclusion.