SSDS THROUGH MIND’S MEMORY
THE STORY as published in SANSKRITI SSDS KENYAN JOURNEY marking the centenary celebration of Shree Sanatan Dharam Sabha
It was over a score of years ago when I first moved to Nairobi in 1994 from India. With no relatives here it was a journey into developing friendships and forming bonds with acquaintances and places. Being so new on the African Continent, missing home the urge was getting stronger to find a holding of support which came in the form of SSD Temple at Lower Kabete. I happened to meet a Kashmiri Muslim family who first mentioned the temple to me and introduced me to Mrs. Sushma Mahajan who along with her husband ran a Green Grocery store in westlands.
Sushma guided me to this Hindu Temple thankfully and there on began my spiritual journey. SSD had soon become my favourite place to be. At the temple I met an elderly priest called Yogeshwar Prasad Ji. We called him Pandit Ji with respect. I clicked on quite well with him and felt as if I had always known him. Likewise were his sentiments and upon discussion we found a link to our familiarity feeling. He happened to be a priest in Delhi at a temple frequently visited by me along with my siblings in our childhood in the early 70s. Now the temple became more of a home ground for me.
Another attraction towards SSD was the idol of Lord Jhulelal that lay installed along with many others. No sooner did I start paying my respects to Jhulelal, I thought of locating other Sindhi Families in Nairobi. Having been successful at that within a few years we had an informal group called The Sindhi Community of Kenya and in 1999 we had our first ever Sindhi New Year prayers (Cheti Chand) held at SSD Temple. Mrs. Sukarma Mahajan and Mrs. Yash Mahajan were very helpful in accommodating our request to let us use the premises soon after they finished their Navratri prayers in the early evening hours on the condition that we conclude our communal prayers before the 7pm Arti.
Earlier in January 1999 we were visited by the Late Guruji of the Nirankari Mission, His Holiness Baba Hardev Singh Ji and together with a few Nirankari faithful we decided to organize his talk and kirtan at SSD Temple. Since the organizing committee was fairly new, we were helped tremendously by the management of the Temple. They gave us a list of people we could be inviting and guided as ref the planning of the event on a Sunday Morning.
There on this temple which had become a comfort zone for our family was frequented by us on a weekly basis. I started attending the Navratri celebrations at the temple. Although throughout Nairobi a lot of temples had the dandia programme it somehow never resonated with me. With my spiritual inclination, Navratri meant worshipping the Mother Goddess through prayer invocation more than dancing it out. I found that spiritual urge satiated at SSD as the vibrations during prayer sessions seemed very connecting. My two children would often return from school directly to the temple to find me there and they sang Mata ki Bhents (hymns). Their shyness at singing on the mike was soon eased out as they used to be supported by Mrs. Meera Vashisht and the Late Ms.Ekta Tiwari both being excellent singers.
My journey with this temple had only just begun. From then for several years we continued to celebrate our Sindhi New Year at SSD and invited Sindhis as well as Non Sindhis to the prayers and Prasad. Gradually more Sindhi families started attending the Navratri prayers and Hawan at the temple premises. The temple was growing in strength and structure each year with new features being added. The Yagna Shala, the installation of Navgrahas ,The Kabro pathway, the ground being used for functions, the function hall’s emergence, The restaurant within the premises, the enhanced residential facility for the priests, the heightened security, the extended car park, the Balaji Temple to name the growth as recorded in my mind’s memory.
In the year 2005 my Reiki Guru, Kamal Tolia and myself along with few other ladies formed a Reiki Group called the Lotus Healing Seva Group and in October of the same year we conducted our first Reiki Camp where we taught Reiki to about 100 people in a day. The venue for this camp was the function Hall of my favorite place, the SSD Temple. I strongly believe that our Healing Group invoked the blessings there since from being a small group then within twelve years it has reached several countries and gained members. For the camp we needed lots of chairs and mattresses and the management of SSD helped us out with all our requirements willingly.
A Sindhi saint, Guruma Giteshwari Devi Ji from the very revered Geeta Ashram of New Delhi, who visits Nairobi each year has also formed a bonding with the temple over the years. During her visits she often gives a talk at least once at SSD. Such is the rapport that once the faithful are made aware of her visit; they simply know that she would be conducting the talk there.
While mentioning everything else I must add the very important weekly Hanuman Chalisa chanting that is conducted on Saturday evenings. This regular feature forms a very significant aspect of the temple resulting in the yearly Hanuman Jayanti celebration whence continuous 108 Chalisa are sung. The captivating festival of colors, Holi a fun filled event is celebrated at SSD every Hindu month of Falgun following the Holika Dhahan. The majestically sized Ravana is burnt at the temple grounds each Dusshera which is a very big crowd puller. I am glad I have had the opportunity to attend several such occasions.
Reflecting back I feel privileged having formed a connection to this temple that made me feel welcomed to Nairobi. As we now celebrate the Centenary of the SSDS I wish to express my gratitude to this Holy shrine for helping many maintain their faith. I congratulate the Trustees and management of this Divine establishment on behalf of the entire Sindhi Welfare Society and the Lotus Healing Seva Group.