Due to the pandemic and Sai Center devotional sessions transitioning to a virtual platform, the Mid-Central Region of the Sri Sathya Sai International Organization (SSSIO)–USA had to rethink how Sai Centers would observe the Global Akhanda Bhajans this year. The region devised an inventive plan to provide selected singers from each‎‎ ‎‎center with ‎‎BandLab training. BandLab is a free, all-in-one, cloud-based social platform that allows the singers to record bhajans by singing along to a music track. The singers could then prepare a regional offering of bhajans as a countdown to the Global‎‎ ‎‎Akhanda‎‎ ‎‎Bhajans.  The region was amply supported in their efforts by the National‎‎ ‎‎Devotional‎‎ ‎‎Coordinator‎‎, IT experts, and members from another Sai Center who had prior experience using BandLab. The process included formulating a strategy, producing training materials, the actual training itself, editing the submissions, and finalizing the end product.

The project was successful with a hundred percent participation from all centers and groups in the region. Within a condensed timeline of four weeks, the Mid-Central Region was able to offer a garland of 43 bhajans as an offering to our beloved Sri Sathya Sai Baba on the evening of November 14, 2020. The Global Akhanda Bhajans 2020 that followed was enthralling and filled all who participated with bliss, despite being on a virtual platform. One of the Sai Center members reflected “What a day it was! A fabulous effort with mesmerizing bhajans! I felt transported to Prasanthi Nilayam in the very physical presence of our dearest Lord Sai! The pandemic enabled each of us to experience His divinity in a unique, joyful way. Thinking about it now, I am filled with the same bliss!”

Coordination and communication were critical to this regional effort. It was a joy to witness the extraordinary dedication to the task at hand by everyone involved at every stage of the process. The process was seamless with almost 24/7 support from Sai sisters and brothers from both within and outside the region.

A Devotional Coordinator who was also a trainer and a participant said, “I genuinely feel grateful for this opportunity to revisit and reflect on all that I have experienced over these past few weeks leading to the Regional Global Akhanda Bhajan. The project brought me immense joy and provided me with the energy to carry out my daily tasks. This year, with the COVID restrictions, our Lord Sai chose to recalibrate and make the Global Akhanda Bhajan an even grander event than ever before. What an incredible spiritual journey! He brought together all Sai devotees from our region and beyond to be His instruments of love. We learned together and bonded through the training and recording sessions on BandLab. All of this culminated in an entirely beautiful garland of bhajans, which we offered to our Lord. Apart from being an uplifting experience, it also showed me what selfless love and sacrifice feels like when we come together as ONE for HIM, and offer 24/7 support to one another and elevate each other. I look forward to participating in many more such celebrations to experience divinity in one and all!”