How Ashes are Realeased into the Umgeni River
1. There are containers with basins on two sides of the Ganga fountain.
2. Water from Ganga is poured into one of the basins.
3. Before the ashes are deposited into the basin by a member of the bereaved family, devotees of the Society repeat some Mantras and the Master's name.
4. While the ashes are being deposited into the basin by a member of the bereaved family, all utter: Hare Hare Gange, Jai Ma Gange several times.
5. Other members of the bereaved family also pour some pure Ganga water into the basin from a small brass vessel.
6. The water from the basin, together with the ashes, is then released into the Umgeni River.
7. All then sing the sweet and melodious Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram or Om Nama Sivaya Mantra in chorus while going round the Ganga fountain eight times.
8. The procedure ends with Shanti Paat, distribution of Prasad and free literature to members of the deceased.
9. Before or after the deposit of the ashes members of the deceased are free to repeat some prayers or perform simple rituals.
Tribute from Mrs Christine Pillay:
"I am humbled to be writing to such an awesome person as yourself. I am a Christian since birth and so is my family. When my brother recently spoke of the Ghat and explained its amazing wonder, I never fully understood its beauty and serenity until I visited it and had a life-changing experience."
"I am certain every person who has the gift of visiting the Ghat will appreciate and bless you for having the foresight to give the departed the highest form of respect and dignity after all the turmoil and sadness that we so often face in life. I was blessed not only to have had my son with me, but my family sharing this wonderful experience. The peace and tranquillity we encountered when entering the Ghat left us feeling so serene and humble, and left each one of us in perfect peace."
"You, Swamiji, are an extraordinary being, and may God richly bless you and keep you strong to continue all your wondrous deeds. I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, nevertheless I am a better person for having heard and seen your great dedication to mankind."
"A divine place to face all trials and troubles with courage and calmness."
"A beautiful way to leave the world. God bless you."
"Very peaceful and pleasant place. Well maintained. Good communication between devotees in charge and the public. It feels like 'heaven'."
"Absolutely brilliant. Shining example of what humanity can achieve and of the potential we possess."
"Inspiring and informative for all seekers of God."
"This is a divine magnet that pulls me closer and closer to the merciful divine lotus feet of Pujya Swamiji Maharaj. Thank you all."
"This place is heaven, Swamiji. You have always given me faith and courage in all that I do and I want to thank you for everything."
"I am a Christian and I believe in my Saviour, Jesus Christ and I respect every religion. This is an excellent set-up. We should have more "set-up" like this."
"Seeing this beautiful ending to one life has assured me that death takes us all to a beautiful place."
"A calm and inspirational place that gives one a soothing sensation in the mind and soul at this trying time. Thanks for making this possible."
"At the Lotus Feet of God Almightyâ€”this vibration is an experience."
â€œI think that this place is amazing. Only God can do this. I think that this spiritual need is God Himself."
"There is a lot of cheer and light surrounding this place."
"Brings peace of mind and soothes away pain and grief."
About Sivananda Ghat
(To make use of the facilities at Sivananda Ghat, kindly contact us on 031 262 2314)
Sivananda Ghat is a post cremation public facility situated alongside the Umgeni River, next to the Clare Estate Umgeni Hindu Crematorium. It was constructed by Divine Life Society of South Africa after a request was made by the Minister of Education of KwaZulu-Natal, during the birthday function of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, held at Sivananda International Cultural Centre, La Mercy in September 2002. The Minister himself suggested the name "Sivananda Ghat" as a fitting tribute to our Divine Master for having contributed to the development of the country through the Society's projects for people of different faiths and race groups as well as the disadvantaged.
With great enthusiasm Divine Life Society decided to undertake the project. The inspiration 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 Master had said:
"From now onward the first of every month will be observed at the Ashram as "All Souls Day". We should offer special prayers for the peace of departed souls. In this modernized materialistic world, Dharma has long ago been lost. Many religions have come into being in India itself that vehemently condemn the practice of ancestor-worship, Tarpana and Shraddha. The departed souls are in great grief. They naturally look to us to help them. We must do this."
On the first of every month, Havan and Satsang are conducted for the peace of the departed souls. Those attending, walk around the Ghat singing melodious Bhajans and repeating Ram-Nam. About 2000 poor people are fed on this day in the name of departed souls.
Sivananda Ghat is managed by Divine Life Society and its band of sincere devotees. It is fulfilling its primary function of providing a safe and dignified facility for the disposal of the cremated ashes of all race groups, including Africans and Christians. Facilities are also provided for the performance of Shraddha and Tarpana rituals at no cost. Instead of the use of clay pots the Society has now provided metal vessels for disposal of the ashes into the Ganga basin and then into the Umgeni River.
Sivananda Ghat is a place of solace and comfort for bereaved family members who have lost their beloved ones. Furthermore, it is a highly educational and cultural centre. Both Sivananda and Vishwananda Halls have extremely beautiful illuminated display cabinets with lovely pictures of exotic birds, flowers, animals, scenic wonders, etc. accompanied by short, inspiring sayings from our Divine Master's writings which captivate readers. There are sayings from our sacred Hindu scriptures, like the Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita. The lovely shrine with illuminated duratrans of Lord Rama, Mother Saraswathi, Swami Vishwananda, our Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna and Lord Siva enthrall all.
Mother Ganga Shrine at Sivananda Ghat
Two illuminated shrines of Ganga Mata are mounted on the beautiful Ganga fountain with its lovely water sprays. There is also a small duratran shrine of Sri Hanuman. A shrine of Lord Jesus has also been installed. From the comments and response of individuals, Sivananda Ghat is bringing about a spiritual awakening and transformation in the lives of many visiting the centre. Visitors and members of bereaved families invariably comment about its serene and tranquil atmosphere. Several remarked: "This place is heaven on earth."
The large amount of spiritual literature taken clearly indicates that today, many who are confronting serious problems, are looking for spiritual guidance. In this respect Divine Life Society can confidently state that our Master's spiritual writings, which are so highly inspiring, universal in outlook and practical in application are unparalleled when it comes to instructions and guidance for the ordinary man. We get reports of how his writings have helped Muslims and Christians also. Now they have been translated into Zulu and are having a wide appeal.
The divine atmosphere of the Ghat is helping people to cope with difficulties and sadness due to loss of their beloved ones. The booklet, Pathway to Peace & Happiness and other spiritual literature contain illuminating information on how to overcome depression and suicidal tendencies, alcoholism and drugs, etc. is distributed. Also, the Master's book, What Becomes of the Soul After Death answers many queries about the soul after it leaves the body. It contains valuable information on reincarnation, etc.
The ashes of the deceased are deposited into one of two basins consecrated with holy Ganga water situated on Ganga Fountain in the Ghat. From here the ashes are transported directly into the Umgeni River. While the ashes are being disposed, members of the bereaved family pour Ganga water into the basin and all utter the invocation, Hare Hare Gange Jai Ma Gange. After the disposal all chant the sweet and melodious Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram or Om Nama Sivaya Mantra while walking around Ganga fountain eight times.
Shrine of Lord Jesus at Sivananda Ghat
In the case of Christians, while depositing the ashes, our devotees repeat melodiously lines from one of our Master's universal Kirtans, invoking Lord Jesus and Mother Mary. Members of bereaved Christian families also pour Ganga water into the basin. One of the greatest blessings that departed souls receive is the Grace of Ganga Mata, whose holy water is poured into the basin by members of bereaved families while the ashes of their beloved ones are being deposited into it. Furthermore, the Umgeni River also gets purified and sanctified by Ganga Mata's water.
Sivananda Ghat and its precincts are maintained and serviced regularly by experienced and trained individuals. The system is highly efficient as it is a gravity fed system. The ash is mixed with water and this is carried into the river via pipes. More than 20 000 ash disposals have been conducted since 2005 and the Ghat is becoming increasingly popular for its service to all race groups and diverse religious affiliations. The area where the ashes enter the Umgeni River is regularly supervised and cleaned to ensure that the natural environment is maintained.
Since its official opening in 2005, Sivananda Ghat has been having a spiritually uplifting effect on all those visiting it.
Sivananda Luwamba Wellness Centre
Divine Life Society has recently opened its most prestigious project in Luwamba, Ntambanana, a rural area not far from Empangeni. Initially intended to be just a clinic, it grew into a formidable project, with buildings alone will occupy an area of about two and a half hectares. It will provide much needed medical and other facilities for the poor in the area. The project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal. The Society is contributing R7 000 000,00 (seven million rands, about rupees fifty-four million) towards this massive project.
The entire complex is built with beautiful white bricks and the outside walls are decorated with colourful tiles like those that we use in our Peace & Skills Training Centres. This complex will be the most important and prestigious project in the name of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, who himself was a medical doctor in Malaysia before he left back for India to become a monk. Our Divine Master deserves this great honour.
Official Opening of Sivananda Luwamba Wellness Centre
On Friday 3rd April 2009, over 6000 people attended the grand and historic opening ceremony of the Sivananda Luwamba Wellness Centre in Ntambanana, a rural area some 30km from Empangeni. The centre was the outcome of a joint venture between Divine Life Society and the Provincial Government. Divine Life Society contributed R7 Million towards this R17 Million project.
Amongst the eleven buildings, all of which are built in the same style as the Sivananda Ghat, with beautiful face bricks and colorful tiles, are a clinic, a pharmacy, two wards that can house up to 60 beds, a crÃ¨che and a Peace and skills training centre. Pujya Swamiji performed the sod-turning ceremony in August 2007, and has written that this is "the most prestigious project of Divine Life Society and a fitting tribute to the Divine Master who himself was a medical doctor."
The date of the opening was changed a few times, but finally settled mysteriously on 3 April, which coincided with the Holy Festival of Ram Navami. Moreover, while devotees were reciting the invocation prayer prior to the cutting of the ribbon and the unveiling of the plaque, a gentle shower of rain descended upon the proceedings. As soon as the official opening was done, the shower miraculously stopped! These events have strengthened our firm belief that Sri Gurudev's and Pujya Swamiji's unseen hands were guiding the project from start to finish.
There is still some work to be done before the final handover, which will be some six months before the scheduled date. This is all due to the Grace of Pujya Swamiji and our Divine Master, and the dedication of many devotees who worked tirelessly and selflessly on the project. We place on record our gratitude to all devotees who contributed financially and otherwise, in bringing to fruition Pujya Swamiji's dream a hospital in the name of the Divine Master.
1. At Umgababa, the Gozololo Children's Home comprising 3 blocks, including a residential block, was established in partnership with the Miriam Cele Centre.
2. In 2005, fifty computers were installed in Computer Training Centres in Stanger, Estcourt and Richards Bay.
3. A joint venture with the Ministry of Sport resulted in the creation of an Olympic-size swimming pool in Ulundi. It is the only public swimming facility in Ulundi.
4. Traditional African Handicraft Centres: 7 such centres were built in 2002 as part of a self-help initiative in rural areas.
5. Two Community Halls were built in the Umlalazi Municipality in 2008.
6. Liberal financial contributions were also made to about 40 temple organisations and institutions in South Africa, as well as numerous institutions abroad.