In celebrating this auspicious event, we celebrate the divine vision of Pujya Swami Sahajananda in providing a much-needed facility in this country. Sivananda Ghat is unique in that it is the only one of its kind in the world. We pay tribute to Pujya Swamiji for his unparalleled service to the community. We cherish with fond memories the work done by Pujya Swami Sahajananda whose contribution extended beyond the limits of his religion, country and creed. It is this broad vision based on compassion; based on a deep and sincere desire to share that makes this celebration worthwhile.
While Divine Life Society undertook this project with enthusiasm, it was not without any tests and trials. Pujya Swamiji overcame these hurdles one by one with determination and conviction. "The inspiration", wrote Pujya Swamiji "came mainly from the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, who had spoken about the Shraddha ceremony and rituals for the deceased at his Ashram."
The Honourable Councillor Logie Naidoo, Executive Committee Councillor and Speaker of the eThekwini Municipality, who had a long standing association with Pujya Swamiji and was closely involved in negotiations to build Sivananda Ghat, was the Guest Speaker at the function. Divine Life Society is grateful to Councillor Logie Naidoo for his support and assistance. In his address, Councillor Logie Naidoo referred to Pujya Swamiji as a "Gandhi-like figure" who always said that "all praise must go to the Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, for the work done in this country. There was a great divinity about him". Our esteemed guest proceeded to enumerate the projects completed by the Society under the dynamic leadership of Pujya Swamiji. Councillor said, "In response to the praises heaped upon Pujya Swamiji for the sterling work done in this country, his only reply was, "I am only an instrument of God".
"Pujya Swamiji worked without any respite, for seven days of the week. Indeed a lesson for all of us" if we wish to attain success in any walk of life, we must be prepared to work hard."
Councillor Logie Naidoo traced the history of Sivananda Ghat from the time negotiations took place with eThekwini Municipality. He outlined the struggles with various organisations and marvelled at Pujya Swamiji''s strong will and determination. "He was adamant about where the Ghat should be built," said Councillor Logie Naidoo. About the work of the Society, Pujya Swamiji once wrote, "Any hard work is often tested, but the Grace of God and our Divine Master comes to our aid."
Councillor Logie Naidoo concluded, "Today, we pay tribute to that divine inspiring leader, Sri Swami Sahajananda for having taught us so much, given so much to the community. We are grateful to Pujya Swamiji for the vision of creating the Sunlit Path, which is shaping the lives of thousands of children afflicted by drug addiction and other social ills. On behalf of the eThekwini Municipality and the citizens of Durban, today we salute Swami Sahajananda and Divine Life Society for rendering such valuable service which has touched the lives of thousands of people. Swami Sahajananda has left a legacy for us to continue."
We are indeed pleased to report that for the past 10 years Sivananda Ghat has fulfilled its primary function of providing a safe and dignified facility for the disposal of the cremated ashes of all, irrespective of religion or race. Facilities are also provided for the performance of Shraddha and Tarpana rituals at no cost.
Members of the bereaved families will testify that Sivananda Ghat is a place of solace and comfort. As at 1 May 2015, 18 387 ash disposals and 5631 rituals have taken place at Sivananda Ghat. We are happy to see that this facility is being used by families from various religious faiths and races. Animal lovers have also made use of this remarkable and unique facility to dispose of the ashes of their pets.
Over the past 10 years, awareness of the role that Sivananda Ghat is playing in the community has resulted in visits from a number of community leaders and spiritual personalities from various parts of the country and abroad. In October 2013, on the initiative of the eThekwini Municipality, delegates from various municipalities in the country from the South African Cemeteries Association visited the Ghat. They attended a conference to address the challenges of burials in this country. It is hoped that their visit to Sivananda Ghat will provide some answers to their challenges. Members of the University of the Third Age, an international organisation visited the Ghat in August 2014. Their spokesperson said, "The general response of all of us is that it is so peaceful here. You have given us strength. The peace that is here is something for us to strive for." Recently, a spiritual leader from Canada made a special trip to the Ghat to gain first-hand knowledge of how the Ghat functions with a view to providing the same facilities for the people of his community.
Sivananda Ghat and its precincts are maintained and serviced regularly by experienced and trained individuals. To ensure that there is no blockage, the high pressure taps are opened after the last disposal every evening. The area where the ashes enter the Umgeni River is regularly supervised and cleaned to ensure that the water is free-flowing into the sea.
On this most auspicious occasion, commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Sivananda Ghat, we offer our deep gratitude to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swami Sahajananda for creating and providing us with this unique facility, we pay our reverential respects to all who have been supporting Sivananda Ghat and all our projects all these years, in spite of the turmoil and uncertain conditions that prevailed. Special thanks to the officials of the Papwa Sewgulam Golf Course, Clare Estate Umgeni Hindu Crematorium and Umgeni Road Temple who assisted in making this project possible. We also offer our heartfelt gratitude to eThekwini Municipality and Advocate Kessie Naidu. We thank our band of dedicated devotees who continue to manage this centre so efficiently. Their Guru Bhakti is remarkable.