S. Thandabaniy Subramaniam, 35, current president of SBYO: Everything I am doing here is due to my devotion to Lord Muruga. I am able to do all my service work only with the cooperation of my family. I often reach home at 2 or 3 am when we are helping the temple organize the main festivals, and my wife understands. Ten years ago I was riding a motorcycle reciting Kandashasthi Kavacham when a mobike from the opposite side hit my mobike and then a car hit my mobike from the back. I had a miraculous escape. Since then I have a firm faith in Kandhashasthi Kavacham and recite it as often as possible, especially whenever I need protection.
Nannthini Shunmugam, 25, secretary of SBYO: I am deeply involved in the higher-education orientation seminars we conduct for our Hindu children who have passed their tenth- and twelfth-level classes and need guidance in shaping their future lives and careers. The youth have many opportunities, but the Indian community here is not aware of these. So we organize seminars twice a year after the exams, to help youth plan for their higher education. It gives me a lot of satisfaction and peace of mind to serve the Lord through SBYO.
Yugavati Ananthan, 13: I have been coming to the temple since the day I was born. I have been associated with SBYO since I was eight years old. Every Sunday I come here with my father and mother and I love it. I help the ladies cut vegetables, wash the staircase and clean the temple. I especially love to serve food when the community meal is being served to all the members. Lord Muruga has helped me a lot in my study and health.
Neetiaashree Shunmugam: My involvement with the temple and SBYO has given me a maturity, a way of talking to people, a way of thinking about things that are very different from my friends. I learned the value of selfless service when I saw people doing it here. Many youth today do not listen to their parents and they do not believe in God. They want to live life in an easy way. But life will bring many difficulties, challenges and obstacles. If you have faith in God, you invite positivity to yourself, and every struggle and obstacle will become easier to cross. He will hold your hand and make you face them confidently.
Mathan Kalimuthu, 22: Through SBYO I have developed a spiritual way of looking at life. I learned to walk on the right path and do good things. Other youth do not come here because their aim is to have fun in life. We have fun here too, but they do not understand this. Our seva will give us a lot of benefit in times to come, if not immediately. We will carry forward this good karma to our next birth. I appeal to parents to allow their children to join temples and do the service work. They need to understand what service and spirituality can bring to their lives.
Chandrashekharan Dharmalingam, 63, electronic engineer: I have seen many young people’s lives transformed by their service work here. Many used to smoke and drink, and have stopped doing all this. I have become more devoted to Lord Muruga. I have also learned how to serve people, how to manage the crowd and even how to be nice to others and behave in a very courteous manner. I have tried to pass on all this knowledge to my two grown children, a daughter and a son.
Mahendran, 43, manufacturing technician: I lost my leg in a motorcycle accident at the age of 25, but I never gave up coming to the temple. When I am here I work as any other normal volunteer is working. I am happy to learn that other people take inspiration from a person like myself. I could have lost my life but Muruga saved me and I just lost my leg.
Kumaraguru Boopalan, 65, a founder member of SBYO, owner of a taxi service business: Due to poverty and some other factors I could not pursue my education after the age of 14. My friends and I used to have fights with other people. My astrology says I could have ended up in prison. After working here I learned how to control my temper and behave well. It is only with the blessings of Lord Muruga that I am on the right path in my life.
Sivaneshvari Ananthan: I have been working for SBYO for the past fourteen years. Lord Muruga has done so much for me. Once the doctor told me that if I undergo operation of my thyroid I will lose my voice. Then I came to Lord Muruga and cried before Him. After the operation my speech was found to be okay. I always bring my children with me. They learn to work with the other people as a disciplined team and learn to deal with them respectfully.
Ananthan Visuvanathan, 49, an SBYO founding member, banker: Kandhashashti
Vratam (not eating during the day, taking only one meal of milk and fruits in the evening) is very important for our spiritual evolution. Six days of fasting is much more intense than just praying in the temple or celebrating Thai Pusam on the streets by participating in the procession. Then our whole focus is on managing the crowd and serving them. But during Kandhashasti it is about our own personal spiritual values and self purification.
Ravindran Subramaniam, 48, chef: I have been with SBYO for 28 years. It has helped us all keep away from bad habits. At a young age when many of us fall into bad company, most of our time was spent with noble and devoted souls. Lord Muruga has protected me many times. Once my family was evicted from our rental house. I and my family were in a very difficult situation and were literally crying. Suddenly an old lady appeared from nowhere, a complete stranger to us, and offered her house on rent, and our problem was solved in a miraculous manner.