Johannesburg: Hundreds of devotees and supporters of the Divine Life Society gathered here to spend the day in a variety of activities to mark the 125th birth anniversary of its founding Saint, Swami Sivananda.

Starting with a walk for universal peace around the periphery of the park yesterday, participants from leading South African, Indian dance and music schools featured in a cultural concert, headlined by renowned India-trained classical singer Karthigesan Pillay.

Children from the Sunday School of the Society, known as "Little Darlings", enthralled the audience with several devotional songs in English and traditional bhajans.

"Our Swami had a special place in his heart for little children," explained teacher Videshni Singh.

"In fact, Pujya Swamiji coined the term "spiritual Darlings" whenever he referred to the children. At the Sunday School, children are taught bhajans, kirtans, and plays related to Hindusim," he said.

"We took this momentous step to reach out the general public for the first time as an organisation in an effort to mobilise others in our rally for peace," said the Society’s branch chairperson Dr Sarushen Pillay.

"This is in keeping with our Swami’s teachings around the power of the collective practice of faithful prayer to realize peace and tranquility in a modern society," he said.

Sri Swami Sivananda, who started the organisation in India, instructed South African-based Swami Sahajananda to start a branch of the Divine Life Society in South Africa in 1949 with the guiding philosophy of the organisation being service to humanity as a means to attaining liberation for its people.

(Agencies)