In service of humanity
10 September, 2018, 12:00 pm
SINCE its establishment in 2000, the Fiji Sevashram Sangha has been working throughout the country, assisting the members of the public in various ways.
This week, we look at the history of the organisation and how it has shaped and helped countless lives in the country.
Sangha president Swami Sanyuktanand said they were an affiliated body of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, which was a spiritual brotherhood of monks and selfless workers devoted to the service of humanity.
“Bharat Sevashram Sangha was founded in 1917 by patriot saint Yugacharya Srimat Swami Pranavanandaji Maharaj as a result of divine inspiration at the altar of his spiritual revelation in 1916,” Swami Sanyuktanand said.
“We have two branches based in Suva and Lautoka open to the general public. People come here to give their time, skills and knowledge to those in need.
“All people of different faiths come to us and help us make a difference to the lives of many. We do not have restrictions as this is a service organisation. We are here to help the people. Saving one’s life is very important.”
He said the sangha’s activities began with morning and evening Vedic prayers every day.
“We are focusing on the future generations as well. We organise annual camp for physical fitness and cultural camp for school students, youth camp and one-day camp for adults,” he said.
“We also celebrate Raksha Bandhan and organise rangoli (traditional Indian art form using coloured sand or powder to decorate a floor, courtyard or other flat surface) competition during Deepawali.
“More than 110 students spend time throughout the week in these camps. Most of our volunteers have come through this camp system.” He said they celebrated major Hindu festivals such as Swami Pranavananda Jayanti, Vasant Panchami, Maha Shivratri, Holi, Ram Navami, Janmashtami and Guru Purnima, to a name a few.
“The 2018 nationwide Ganesh Utsav preparations have begun. This will be the 18th year the sangha will be organising the event in Fiji and it is expected to be the biggest celebration organised so far,” he said.
“Ganesh Utsav will be celebrated at the Suva and Lautoka ashram of the sangha and about 50 other venues around Fiji from 13 to 24 September.”
He said more than 50 Lord Ganesha idols had arrived from Kolkata, India at the Suva and Lautoka ashrams for the celebrations.
“We have brought in special eco-friendly clay idols which will have no effect on the environment. All materials used in the idols are environmentally friendly,” he said.
He said the sangha also undertook temporary relief work during natural disasters such as floods and cyclones.
He said since 2006, the sangha started the Nar-Narayan Seva (save a life and be blessed) where the organisation would identify the most needy people who were unable to have even one meal a day.
“We have been distributing monthly rations to single-parent families and elderly people as well. More than 90 families so far are receiving this assistance in the Suva to Nausori corridor, in Navua and Lautoka,” he said.
He said the main objective of their services was to unite the people living in the communities.
“Needy students also receive educational assistance with scholarships, fees, books, stationery, free tutorial classes and moral support,” he said.
“People also have the opportunity to take advantage of our yoga classes. This with self-defence classes are conducted at both centres and karate classes are held twice a week.”
He also mentioned they had one of the largest collections of books on Indian culture and heritage in Hindi, English, Gujarati and Bengali languages. In his message to the public, Swami Sanyuktanand emphasised that the orgnaisation’s activities had been increasing, especially among the under-privileged in the communities.
“For the maintenance of educational and charitable works, the sangha is in need of patronage and financial backing from all generous people,” he said.
He concluded that the organisation would be always ready to help the needy, nurse the sick, feed the hungry and clothe the naked.