Annual Regional Retreat 2023

Sairam Dear All:

With Bhagavan’s grace and blessings we are happy to announce the Sai Region 3 Annual Regional Retreat – 2016.  The retreat will be held at the University Student Center, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL. The retreat will be held during the Memorial Day weekend, May 27th – 30th, 2016.

The theme of the retreat is “Practical Spirituality – Living the Message of Sathya Sai Baba”. As always we’ll have elevating Morning Prayer sessions, exciting YA programs, fun filled activities for SSE children, inspirational talks by guest speakers, uplifting bhajan sessions and useful Workshops by experts. In addition we’ll also have group discussions for center officers, cultural programs etc.

Over all, it will be a spiritual weekend with activities for the entire family and is a great opportunity for all of us to connect and collectively offer our gratitude to Lord Sai.

Please use the various tabs on this page to get more information about the retreat. Please complete the registration as soon as possible.

Looking forward to seeing one and all at the retreat.


In Sai’s Loving Service,

Your Regional Officers

Dates Friday, May 27th 2016, 8:00 PM – Monday, May 30th 2016, 9:00 AM
Venue University Student Center, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL
Address 500 2nd Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Facility Phone # (727) 873-5101
Nearby Airports
St. Pete Clearwater International Airport FL (PIE – 13 Miles)
Tampa International Airport FL (TPA – 22 Miles)
We are blessed to have two eminent speakers participate with us during this retreat.

Dr. Shashank Shah is an eminent researcher in the field of Corporate Responsibility and Stakeholder Management Strategy with noteworthy contributions through original ideas and pioneering analyses to his credit. He completed his PhD and Post-Doctoral Research in the area of Corporate Stakeholders Management at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam. He has received the Association of Indian Management Scholars International Outstanding Doctoral Management Student Award 2010 at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in 2011; and the H.R. College Golden Alumnus Award 2011 for his research achievements from the Sheriff of Mumbai. Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba awarded him the Governor’s Gold Medal for standing first at the Master of Philosophy Programme in Business Management in 2006; and the President of India Gold Medal for standing first at the MBA Programme at the Sri Sathya Sai University in 2004.

As the Chief Editor and Coordinator of the Sri Sathya Sai University’s Publications Division for more than 6 years, he has compiled and edited over 30 books on the Message of the Revered Founder Chancellor, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Noteworthy among these include: the ‘My Dear Students’ series of books which cover 108 Divine Discourses for students and youth; the ‘Students with Sai: Conversations’ series of books which includes conversations between Swami and students during the years 1991 to 2004; the ‘Sri Sathya Sai Digvijayam’ series of books which cover’s Swami’s life and journeys from 1926 to 2011; and revived the ‘Sai Nandana’ series of books that compiled the students’ experiences with Swami between the years 1985 and 2010. He was the main ideator behind the ‘Sathya Sai with Students’ Blog which has crossed a million visits since its inception in September 2012. Between 2012 and 2014, he served as the Joint Secretary and Treasurer of the Sri Sathya Sai Students and Staff Welfare Society at Prasanthi Nilayam.

Between 2002 and 2010, Dr. Shashank was blessed by Swami to address large gatherings of students, youth and Sai devotees on over 25 occasions at Prasanthi Nilayam, Brindavan, Chennai and Kodaikanal in the Divine physical presence. Over the last 15 years, he has addressed youth conferences of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations from the states of Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Between 2005 and 2015, he was a keynote speaker at the World Youth Conference, All India Vice-Chancellors’ Conference, All India Bal Vikas Alumni Conference, All India Conference of District Presidents and Senior Office Bearers, Middle-Eastern Countries’ Regional Conference, and the Far-Eastern Countries’ Regional Conference at Prasanthi Nilayam; and the North-Eastern Regional Conference, Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference and the Pacific South Regional Conference at USA, besides talks on various other occasions – both in India and overseas.

From 1999 to 2002, Dr. Shashank Shah was a Member of the Youth Wing, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Mumbai and actively associated with the Education in Human Values Programme of the Institute of Sathya Sai Education, Mumbai.

Dr. Shashank Shah currently has a joint appointment as Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Business School; and Project Director and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI), USA. He also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Postdoctoral Editors Association, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.
Above all, he is blessed to be from a family of Sai devotees from the year 1965 when his great grandmother first visited Prasanthi Nilayam. In the year 1974, Swami physically visited his family residence in Mumbai.

Once a yoga practicing backpacker, Dr. Phil Gosselin had the good fortune to live in the Prashanthi ashram in the year 1971-1972 and again in 1974-75.
Dr. Phil Gosselin worked on Wall Street for a number of years, before switching his profession to Clinical Psychology. He was a Professor of Psychology at Union Institute and has been director of the Behavioral Medicine Department at Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, MA. Currently he lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA.


He is currently the Chairperson for Zone 1 of Sathya Sai International Organization. Zone 1 includes the English and Dutch speaking countries of the Western Hemisphere. Earlier, he served as the Central Coordinator of USA Sai Organization and as the USA Central Council President. He is one of the initial USA Central Council members announced by Swami in 1975.
Dr. Gosselin was also one of the founding members of the Manhattan Sai center and other Sai centers in the Northeast USA. An account of his professional life on Wall Street is described in the book, The Dharmic Challenge, Putting Sathya Sai Baba’s Teachings into Practice.

We are happy to bring together a set of wonderful workshops during this retreat. Please find more details below.

Workshop #1: Raising Sai Pearls

A workshop on creating the Ideal Environment at Home and the Centre for Sai Children by Kalika Grana.

Picture4Sister Kalika Grana holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Developmental Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Education, the North American Montessori Center certifications for Infant and Toddler Montessori education and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) certification for both, Primary (3-6 yrs) and Elementary (6-12 yrs) Montessori education. It’s worth noting that she is one of few Montessori Directors in Austin to hold all Montessori Diplomas. Mrs. Grana comes from an extended family and long tradition of educators, school principals and Montessori directors.

From 1987 to 1997, Mrs. Grana worked as a teacher assistant, lead teacher and Assistant Director of the Pflugerville Montessori School. In 1997, she designed and managed the concepts behind the Cedar Park Montessori School and the Sapientia Montessori School, where she has served as Head of School for both schools since. Mrs. Grana has also served as a consultant for the (National) Montessori School Accreditation Committee.

Mrs. Grana has known, visited and served Swami for about three decades. Starting as an SSE teacher at a very young age, Mrs. Grana has hosted many Sai-based workshops on subjects such as parenting, teacher training, the developmental stages of children and various aspects of the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV) curriculum.

Having also been a member of the national SSEHV committee for about a decade, today Mrs. Grana serves the Chair for Partnership Schools of the Institution of Sathya Sai Education, USA.

Workshop #2: Rhythm of Sai

A workshop on “Utilizing the Power of Khanjira and Manjira playing to enhance the quality of Devotional sessions” by Andres Zambrano.

Have you ever wondered what makes a devotional Bhajan session a Powerful one? Is it the singers? the instruments? the chorus? the clapping? Join us in this workshop to learn how to make any devotional singing session a High Energy one, just with instruments that we all can learn easily. A khanjira (tambourine), Manjira (cymbals) and clapping.

Requirements:  Bring your own khanjiras and Manjiras or any other percussion instrument with you to this highly interactive workshop. No more than 20 people per session.


  • To empower those who are interested in learning how to play a khanijira or a manjira to support their devotional singing sessions in their respective centers.
  • To learn basic concepts about taal (beat / rhythm) and how they are applicable in devotional singing.
  • Discuss and deeply understand fundamental Devotional singing guidelines and its relationship with percussion instruments.


Brother Andres was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He’s been part of the Sai Organization since he was born, coming from a family that has been in Bhagawan’s fold for over 3 generations.  He was a delegate of the 2nd world youth conference in 1999 and 3rd World youth conference in 2007 in Prashanti Nilayam. He participated in the southeast regional pilgrimage in 2007 leading the music program team. He has also participated in several music programs with former Sai students and has conducted several Bhajan workshops in both our region and internationally. He did his studies in the field of Psychology at Florida International University.

Workshop #3: Life is a Game, Play it!

An interactive workshop on playing games and sports Sai’s way by Balu Karanam. Anecdotes and interactive games based on Swami’s discourses annual sports day messages.

Balasubramnayam (Balu) Karanam was born in a small village near Puttaparthi in the family of Sai devotees. He joined the Puttaparthi village primary school  for 4th grade, and continued his schooling in Smt. Eswaramma High school. He then completed his graduate and post graduate degrees from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam. He joined Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to pursue his research studies in Cancer Biology. He served as the President of the Sathya Sai Center of Greater Baltimore, Maryland and as Regional Devotional Co-ordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Balu is currently working as Assistant Professor in Cancer Biology, and is a regular member of the Atlanta Sathya Sai Center.

Workshop #4: Meditation Through Mandala

The mandala workshop is a great opportunity for all devotees to experience Swamis love through art. We will use the essence of the meaning of mandala and a guided meditation to create a mandala as an expression of our love with Swami. There is no prior experience of any kind that is needed. We encourage all devotees to come and experience the innocent joy in art, the simplicity of making every act divine and most of all the bliss of Swami’s love.

This workshop is conducted by Atlanta center members: Darshana Patel, Usha Ganti, Sharad Kusum, & Nadini Chennur from Atlanta Center
Finished Mandala pic

A public meeting will be held on Sunday, May 29th in order to serve as an introduction to Swami and His Message for newcomers. Please find more details below.

A wonderful bouquet of activities are being organized for the SSE children attending the retreat. A detailed agenda is available here.

Here are a few highlights:

Morning Prayers: Children will begin the day with Suprabhatham chanting and Nagar Sankirtan by the harbor side in the morning breeze and as the sun rises.


Yoga For Healthy Living: Children will then enjoy a nice yoga session outdoors. Kids – Please pack your yoga pants.

Walk With Values: Children will participate in a Walk With Values event on Sunday. They would be practicing a sadhana for a month leading up to the walk, thereby learning unity in thought, word, and deed. Kids – Check with your teachers on the Sadhana Planner!

Share & Inspire: Children from the various centers will be sharing what they learned this year in the SSE classes. This will be a hands-on exhibit you don’t want to miss. Come, listen to the children, and get inspired. Kids & Teachers – Remember to pack your creativity along with your bags for the retreat.

Plus, Tons of Games and Fun: Lots of outdoor and indoor games are being planned by the teachers. The kids are sure to enjoy and learn in the process.

Online registration for the “Sathya Sai Region 3 Annual Retreat 2016” has been closed.

Walk-in registrations are welcome at the registration desk at the retreat venue.

Important Note on Accommodation
Due to overwhelming response from members across the region, all available rooms at the retreat have been booked as of May 05th.

Registration to attend the retreat is still open. However, members registering now would have to make their own arrangements for lodging. Information on nearby hotels is available on the “Accommodation” tab as well as on the registration form.

Nearby Hotel: There is a historic Spanish hotel, “Ponce de Leon” located a few blocks away from Student Center (4 minutes drive).

Name of Hotel Ponce De Leon
Address 95 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Contact Information Phone #: 727 550 9300
  • Members registering after May 05th should call up the hotel directly to make their reservation.
  • Transportation to and from the hotel to the retreat venue will be provided by volunteers.

The following information is applicable only to those who have registered prior to the above date.

Accommodation is available on premise in dorm style rooms.

Points To Note:

    1. 2 Twin XL beds with private in room shower/bathroom
    2. Bring own soap and toiletries. Towels, pillows, bed-sheets for two beds will be provided.
    3. Up to four people can share room at $85 / night per room (2 beds provided in each room. Bring own sleeping bags for additional people sharing room.)
    4. Images:
    5. Elevator access to all rooms
    6. Special need rooms with wheelchair access are available
Calculate the cost to attend the Region 3 Annual Retreat 2016
Provide Inputs
Net Cost
Food cost – Enter # of Adults
Food cost – Enter # of YAs
Room rent – Enter # of Nights you need accommodation

* On-premise lodging is no longer available.

Total Cost:


Food Cost

Points To Note:

      1. There’s no cost for Pre SSE (ages 0 – 5) and SSE children (ages 6 – 17) to attend the retreat.
      2. Cost for Food on Saturday & Sunday is $60 for adults, $30 for YAs (ages 18 – 35), and is free for pre SSE and SSE children (ages 0 – 17).
      3. On-premise lodging is no longer available.
      4. All prices are inclusive of taxes.
      5. Parking is $5 per day and will have to be paid separately at the parking garage at the venue.
      6. Friday night dinner and Monday morning breakfast are prepared by local center devotees at no additional cost.
Breakfast AM Break Lunch PM Break Dinner
Coffee/Tea Coffee/Tea Coffee/Tea Coffee/Tea Coffee/Tea
Cereals/Milk Granola Bars Vegetable Lasagna Granola Bars Edamame Salad
Eggless Whole Grain Breads/Jelly/Peanut Butter Eggless

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Minestrone Soup (with vegetable stock)


Guacamole, Salsa, and Corn Chips Stir Fried Tofu with vegetables
Greek Yogurt (No Gelatin) Crackers Garlic Bread Crackers White Rice
Assorted Cut Fruits Assorted Whole Fruits Assorted Cut Fruits Assorted Whole Fruits Assorted Cut Fruits
Upma Nuts Quinoa Salad Nuts Stir Fried Vegetable Noodles
Scramble Tofu Salad Greek Yogurt (No Gelatin)
Eggless Pancakes Mac & Cheese (kids) Salad and 1 vegetarian Dessert of choice
Breakfast Potatoes 1 Vegan Wrap Indian Spicy Pickles

Breakfast AM Break Lunch PM Break Dinner
Coffee/Tea Coffee/Tea Coffee/Tea Coffee/Tea Coffee/Tea
Cereals/Milk Granola Bars Spicy Black Beans Granola Bars Chole (Garbanzo Bean)
Eggless Whole Grain Breads/Jelly/Peanut Butter Eggless

Banana Bread

Vegetable Enchiladas, Salsa, Sour Cream Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies Coconut Curry with Vegetables
Greek Yogurt(No Gelatin) Crackers Mexican Rice Hummus/Pita Chips White Rice
Assorted Cut Fruits Assorted Whole Fruits Assorted Cut Fruits Assorted Whole Fruits Assorted Cut Fruits
Tomato Upma Nuts Salad Nuts Naan (Eggless)
Breakfast Burrito   Greek Yogurt (No Gelatin)   Salad and 1 vegetarian Dessert of choice
Breakfast potatoes 2 or Hashbrowns       Greek Yogurt(No Gelatin)
Oatmeal       Spicy Indian Pickle