SSE children of Seremban Light the Lamps Within
21st October 2011 was the SSE class just before Deepavali for the Seremban centre. As the number of devotees at the bhajan on Thursday at the centre turned out to be depressingly low, as Deepavali was nearing, a strategy had to be thought of to avoid flagging attendance for SSE the next day. It had to be exciting enough to attract the children to the class. There was another problem: we had only 50% of the gurus coming as they were busy with Deepavali preparations. Swami’s divine help was sought and that was when His article on why the lamp was lit on Deepavali surfaced. So, instead of having the usual class with explanations on why Deepavali was celebrated, it was decided that the class was going to be activity-based. Each parent was messaged to bring a lamp, some oil and a wick for each of their children. The children came out in full force more because they were curious about what this new activity entailed. The class started as usual with the manthras and the rudram being chanted. Then, the significance of Deepavali was explained on powerpoint together with the story of Krishna destroying Naraka the satellite, as it was approaching earth. (Divine Discourse: 28 October 1989 )
The children were informed that the lamps that they had brought were like their hearts and that the wick represented a steady mind. Love and devotion was the oil and that the inner significance of Deepavali was to remove darkness and to light the lamps within. So they needed to first remove the negative qualities within them. They were then told to pour oil in their individual lamps, and just before they lit the lamps, the children had to reflect on the negative quality that they had, that needed to be removed. The children did this very seriously and were then told to stand in rows. They then lit the lamps from Swami’s main lamp at the altar with the help of the gurus. It was indeed very solemnly carried out and then to prevent any oil spillage in the centre they were all led to sit outside the centre holding their lit lamps.
The children were now curious to know what was coming next. We wanted at first to have a naamasankeerthanam around the centre but because it was raining, we decided to let them sing bhajans sitting on the verandah instead. As their individual lamps shone brightly, they were apparently proud of their new found knowledge and this activity gave them a sense of achievement. It ended with greetings , wishes and hugs. For the gurus, the activity was successfully carried out and the purpose was achieved- despite the lack of manpower, and the rainy weather. Deepavali became more meaningful to the children. There was enthusiasm all around and we managed to avoid what would otherwise have been a poorly attended SSE class prior to a public holiday.