Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan donates $300,000 Ambulance to St John

Tenth Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony on February 9 at 10 am

Venkat Raman
Auckland, February 6, 2024

The Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan of New Zealand Inc will become the first and only Indian organisation to donate an Ambulance to serve the growing needs of the Auckland communities as a part of its Tenth Anniversary Celebrations.

The keys to the $300,000, fully-equipped Ambulance will be handed over by Dr Chandra Bhanu Satpathy, the Spiritual Leader and Guru of Shirdi Saibaba Santhan worldwide to the officials of St John at a special ceremony on Friday, February 9, 2024.

The event will be held at the Temple premises at 12 Princes Street in Onehunga, Central Auckland from 10 am, preceded by a special breakfast service at 9 am. Among those present will be members of the Executive Committee of the Sansthan, officials of St John and hundreds of devotees.

The Executive Committee, donors and devotees of the Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan deserve congratulations on this significant achievement in a short span of ten years, since the Sansthan established its own place of worship and community centre. The move will help St John to render its services with greater efficiency.

We also record with gratitude, the services rendered by Appayya Swaminathan (popularly known as Sam), a Chartered Accountant by profession. He was the President of the Sansthan from 2004 to 2006. He passed away at his residence in Auckland on June 13, 2013 after being ill for some time.

Refreshers
Grandeur marks Temple opening on Waitangi Day
Auckland Saibaba Temple a pride of the world
Ambitious Saibaba Temple nearing completion

About St John

Hato Hone St John (also often referred to as St John Ambulance of New Zealand) is a charitable organisation providing healthcare services to the New Zealand public. The organisation provides ambulance and other health services throughout the country.

The Saibaba Sansthan Ambulance will deployed in Auckland which accounts for the largest share of St John services in the country.

A branch of the St John Ambulance was first founded in Christchurch on 30 April 1885 and later in other cities. In 1946, due to the efforts of St John in New Zealand during the Second World War, the organisation was elevated to a full Priory, with the Governor-General of New Zealand as the Prior.

St John is a major health service provider, accounting for 90% of the emergency and non-emergency ambulance coverage, emergency care and first aid at public events support phone lines for the elderly and house-bound, hospital patient transport, public first aid training, health products and a youth programme.

In June 2020, St John announced that it would be laying off staff due to a $30 million deficit caused by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in New Zealand. It could not secure a wage subsidy from the government despite a 40% drop in income.

The services of St John services include emergency and non-emergency ambulance treatment and transport, event medical services, first aid training, the sale of first aid kits and supplies, programmes offering non-clinical support for patients and their family and friends, medical alarms, caring callers who phone to check on someone’s well-being and health shuttles to help people with impaired mobility attend essential appointments.

To millions of devotees, Bagvan Shirdi Saibaba is the eternal example of Kindness and Service (The Main Deity at Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan, Auckland- INL Photo)

Tenth Anniversary Events

The Tenth Anniversary festivities of Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan will commence on Thursday, February 8 with Kakad Aarati at 7 am at the Temple Hall, followed by daily rituals and conclude at midday with Madhyan Aarati. The Temple will reopen at 5 pm, with Dhoop Aarati taking place at 6 pm, followed by a special welcome and Palki Seva for Sathpathy. Songs and dances on Guru Bhagavath and Guruji Pravachan on Guru Bhagavath will be held thereafter, with the final offering of Ashtothar, Shej Aarati and Mahaprasad.

The Tenth Anniversary Celebrations on Friday, February 9 will commence at 6.30 am with Dwar Puja, followed by Kakad Aarati and the daily rituals leading to breakfast.

The Ambulance presentation ceremony and release of the Tenth Anniversary Souvenir will be held from 10 am to 12 pm, followed by Madhya Aarati and Mahaprasad.

The evening festivities will commence at 6 pm and will include Madhyan Aarati, Palki Seva and a cultural programme. Satpathy Dr Chandra Bhanu will address the gathering at 7.45 pm, followed by Shej Aarati and Mahaprasad.

According to the Sansthan website, the current Executive Committee comprises Rama Rao Kadali (President), Uma Rao (Vice-President), Subbarami Reddy Manubolu (Secretary), Ronnie Patrawala (Treasurer). Sainath Nethula, Laxman Sunkari, Ravi Pondicherry, Shivani Arora, Ramanathan Murugesu, Madhukanth Jogia, Sreeram Reddy Bobba, Sujel Surendra, Ezhilnilavan, Niti Tataparthi and Kunal Motwani (Members).

Humble beginnings

Indian Newslink is the only newspaper covering and supporting the activities of the devotees of Shirdi Saibaba since informal meetings and prayers began at the residence of Shivani Arora and Sunkari Luxman in 2000. In 2002, Bhaskar Reddy Duvvuru led the initiative of establishing Saibaba Sansthan as a charitable institution with weekly prayers held at Bal Mural Temple, later shifting to Mt Roskill. The weekly prayer meetings (Thursday) and special programmes such as Mata Chowki Pooja, Navaratri, Diwali and Holi have been bringing together thousands of devotees to the Shirdi Saibaba community. They include Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and others.

Mr Bhaskar Reddy said that Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan is funded by communities and not by one or two individuals or organisations.

“Ten years ago (on February 9, 2014), we began with a bank loan of $2.8 million, in addition to the weekly donations and contributions of devotees at special events. Since then, the Sansthan has witnessed approximately $8 million in turnover. We are confident of liquidating the existing loan of $350,000 soon. More than 1000 people attend the Temple prayers every Thursday and take the Mahaprasad served at the community hall downstairs,” he said.

The Prana Pratishtha Ceremony of Shirdi Saibaba on February 9, 2014, with then President Bhaskar Reddy Duvvuru, Shalini Duvvuru (left) and others

The largest Temple

With an estimated $6 million investment in a variety of facilities and amenities, the Temple complex is arguably the largest Shirdi Saibaba Temple outside India. With the Main Prayer Hall, Community Centre and Dining Hall with a well-equipped commercial kitchen accounting for about 3500 sq metres of built-in area, this Complex has been attracting communities to organise not only their religious festivals and Poojas but also conduct marriages, cultural and entertainment programmes and other events.

The two-day festivities that will mark the Tenth Anniversary of the Temple, will be enhanced by the presence of Dr Chandra Banu Satpathy, revered as a doyen of the Shirdi Saibaba Movement in India and overseas. He will be in Auckland at the invitation of the Sansthan.

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