Dada Mela Marks the Beginning of Rev. Dada’s 101st Birthday Celebrations
Every child that God sends out into this earth comes with the infinite promise of love and joy and hope. But this can be realised, this promise fulfilled, only through love.
—Rev. Dada J. P. Vaswani
The rains blessed the parched lands as it joined in the celebrations of Rev. Dada’s 101st birthday. Lashing across the city, the thunderous rains uplifted the spirits of the volunteers gathered in the early hours of morn for in a while a thousand joyous, smiling children would brighten the Sadhu Vaswani Mission!
27thJuly 2019, marked the beginning of the 101stbirthday celebration of Rev. Dada J. P. Vaswani. The hustle in the morning was a welcoming one! With a child laughing aloud and another giggling away while yet another running about! What a spectacle it was!
Rev. Dada always said, “Children want love and attention and time,” and today was one of those days when the children were the centre of all attention and the joy they found in it was truly contagious. Adults had turned children, dancing and singing along!
“This is my first time ever at the Mission. It is a beautiful sight to behold! The Mission is spreading so much joy and happiness, especially to these kids who rarely get to live the life a child deserves! I am ecstatic singing at the Dada Mela. It’s a noble cause and moreover, I am reliving my childhood here! Their enthusiasm, their liveliness, where have we left all of this behind!” said Saurabh Kulkarni who energized the atmosphere with his incredible vocals! There were several shouts of once more for him and he gracefully obliged.
The Dada Mela began to the lighting of lamp at the life-like portraits of Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani and Rev. Dada J. P. Vaswani and the chanting of ‘Om’ where the children were seen seated in the most disciplined manner. Eyes closed and hands joined in prayer, they resounded the Mission premises with their sincere and devout chants. Following this, they joined in prayer for the Moment of Calm and echoed in the chorus, “Dear God, give us the strength that we may forgive and experience peace and love.” Moment of Calm is a world-wide initiative of peace that calls upon one and all, young and old to pause for 2 minutes on August 2 at 2 pm to forgive, clear the heart of ill-feelings and send out vibrations of love to all. One can observe this ‘Moment’ from wherever one is – the elevator, the gym, the office, the home, or anywhere.
Soon enough, it was time for music, masti and more! On one end, little girls had queued up to apply Mehendi on their palms while others were playing games set up for them. From lighting the candle to getting nail polish applied to car racing to dice game to hoop the biscuits; they wanted to play it all!
“In spite of these kids being special, they grasp all the game instructions so easily! It‘s a marvel in itself!” said Muskan Gupta, volunteer at one of the game stalls.
Another volunteer, Sai Patil, said, “It’s such a unique experience! We are innovating too. Having to explain these games using expressions and actions, it’s definitely new! But although we are finding it difficult to communicate, they are pros! They are bright and intelligent!
Finally, it was time for food! Children were queuing up at food stalls! All their favourites, from bhel, to vada pav to pulav to dosas! The stall managers were bombarded with requests for more and more!
Teachers were seen looking upon their students in adoration. Their joy was something they loved too! Speaking to a few of them at the mela we realised their commitment towards the students.
“Our children don’t get sleep a day before they have to come to the Mission! They are that excited! On other days, they’ll skip school but today, in spite of the rains, they reached before us! They love the Mission, its food and gifts! They feel loved here!” said Vijaymal Chandane, a teacher at Bapusaheb Pawar Kanyashala “Also, the food is so hygienic, the parents also willingly send the children,” she added.
“The ones who are neglected by all, get all the love and affection here! What more can they ask for? They know about Dada, they love Dada. Although it is as much as fun as it usually is, Dada’s absence is painful,” said Aruna Bhandari, a teacher at Bapusaheb Pawar Kanyashala.
“We have been coming since 1993. Our children love this place! Here they receive everything in abundance. Earlier the Mission would come to our school, now they bring our children here. It’s like a picnic for them. They are awed at the events and functions,” said Anand Gavane, Devidas Yewte and Shahji Sagre, teachers at CR Ranganathan Residential School for the Deaf.
Finally, it was time for gifts, goodie bags (napkins, coconut oil, toothpaste, pen-pencil kits) and of course ICE-CREAMS!
“I have been helping in organizing this mela for the past 30 years. We go about and identify the schools that have special children, unprivileged children and approach them for partaking in the mela. It is a happy occasion for children. They want to be here all day! Seeing these kids spreads joy amongst all of us. This truly is a celebration! No ostentation, no extravagance just pure love and affection,” said Murlidhar Hassija.
Soon it was time to bid goodbye but only until the Mission would meet these little ones again. As the kids got seated in the buses arranged for them, they were waving in excitement and taking home, lots of gifts, blessings and love…
The birthday celebrations had truly begun.
CR Ranganathan Residential School for the Deaf (202)
Mahatma Jyoti Rao Phule Girls High School Nana Peth (220)
Bapusaheb Pawar Kanyashala (566)
Mahatma Jyotirao Phule School, Swargate (38)
Poona School and Home for Blind (98)
Total Participating Children: