Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam 2013
Marking grand finale of
3-days Prasanthi Christmas 56 children, as part of International
Children’s Choir, serenaded The Holy Father and His Chosen Son this
evening here in Prasanthi Nilayam.
Earlier, this evening’s programme commenced at 1700 hrs. with a thanksgiving speech by Christmas Committee Chairman Mr Joh Behner from the US. Thanking his Christmas team mates for their all-round cooperation in making Christmas 2013 a glittering one, Behner had special praise for the Sevadals, the decorators from Australia, The Western Canteen and the Indonesians who helped serving chosen dishes, the Choir teams etc. Moving into the legacy of Christmas, Mr Behner spoke about Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s life of realisation through various paths including Christianity. Touching upon Bhagwan’s indication of Golden Age, Mr Behner reminded the audience of the great time we have now and ahead in future with our chosen Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai.
The International Children’s Choir, ably conducted by graceful Alma Badings from the Netherlands, began in typical Indian style with Ganesh Gayathri, Sai Gayathri followed by “Twameva Mata…”. Beginning with a Telugu Greeetings on the occasion of Christmas and New Year the children sang an assortment of many songs that included… It’s Christmas Time…, Joy To The World…, Singing All Together…, Beloved Sai My Soul Always Longing…, Mother Mary Had A Baby Boy…, Can You Hear The Sound Of The African Drum…, Bambelela Bambelela… to end with We Wish You A Merry Christmas…. Violinists played tilting tunes as an intermission spicing up the show followed by the lifting tune of the African Drum beats to the song “Can You Hear The Sound Of The African Drum…” Bambelela, meaning, never give up, was another catchy number that tells all to hold on to Jesus…never give up… The final number was a collective wishing of Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, offering gratitude to The Lord, wishing happiness to one and all. These beautiful children in pristine white with golden scarves ended their singing in an assertive tone, asserting their faith in His Supremacy, singing, He’s got the whole world in His hands…
Even as bhajans continued children posed for group photo session before being felicitated with special gifts. Bhajans ended with Thursday Special “Love Is My Form…Truth Is My Breath…” in Bhagawan’s celestial voice. Mangala Arathi at 1830 hrs. marked the end of Christmas 2013.
II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II
A drama presentation by
International Sai children from Region 8, Southern California, USA,
two speeches and Bhagawan’s Divine discourse featured the Holy
Christmas evening here in Prasanthi Nilayam today.
The programme commenced at 1650 hrs., after 20 mts. of Rudram chanting, with a drama presentation entled ‘The Fourth Wise Man’. The drama was a depiction based on the story of Henry Van Dyke entitled ‘The Other Wise Man’.
Presenting two parallel stories the drama attempted to portray that one could reach one’s life’s goal of Divine Darshan, despite facing all oddities.
Daryush, an Iranian devotee, whose maiden visit to Prasanthi Nilayam to have Bhagawan’s Darshan was left disappointed as he came to know of Bhagawan’s departure from earthly sphere. Disappointed at his misfortune, despising him of being undeserved, Daryush was lost and out. Fr Francis, a kind and noble soul, had a chance meeting with Daryush in the Overseas Canteen and thus turned himself to bail the young man out of his trouble by narrating the story of the ‘Fourth Wise Man’ at the time of Holy Birth Of Jesus.
Arteban is a Magi, a wise and learned man, a Zoroastrian of ancient Persia, who has seen the signs in the heavens that point to the Advent of a Divine Being. Felt inquisitive, with unquenching thirst to have the Divine Darshan, Arteban soon sets out to cross the desert of Judea along with three good friends who have also seen the auspicious signs.
Rushing to catch up with his friends near faraway Banylon, Arteban faces hurdles in his onward journey as, with one after one, hapless and needy turn up to him seeking intererence in healing. Serving thus, without finding his ‘Destination’ Arteban thus continously travels in search of the Divine Being for long thirty-three years. At the end, he reaches Jerusalem wherein, through a chance meeting with someone, he comes to know that nearby that place in Jerusalem a Holy Man who claims to be the Son Of God is going to be crucified soon. Perplexed at the turn of events, even as he kneels down in sincere tearful prayers, Arteban hears the ethereal voice of Jesus, who called him out granting him darshan from the heavens.It was Jesus after his crucifixion.
God, be Him in form or formless always runs after His devotees and at the right time, at the right place He grants him his choices wish, Divine Darshan!
The drama presentation was followed by two inspiriting speeches. Ms Rita Daniel from the US, who spoke first chose to speak of her illustrious journey unto God that ended up with finding Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai as her Master! Beginning life with rational questions as to Why? and Why God? Rita was drawn to the folds of Bhagawan at the age of 15 years. Having had her maiden darshan at Brindavan, Whitefield, Rita’s life was changed as Bhagawan has been her continuous inspiration, directly eversince, guiding her both in her personal and professional life. Closely associtated with the Sri Sathya Sai Book Centre Of America, Rita is a Science teacher by profession.
Tom Lahoy from Australia was the next speaker. A long time devotee who has been into the International Christmas committee for over a decade, Tom narrated a long Australian Story that found him finally at Bhagawan’s Lotus Feet. Tom’s inspiring speech was sprinkled with the teachings of Bhagawan and Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, after the first speech, Mr Robert Daniel from the US who had the privilege of introducing the evneing programme to the august audience, chose to introduce himself as the husband of the Rita Daniel, the first speaker. Rita in her speech made references about her husband, briefing the miraculous story of their marriage as orchestrated by Bhagawan through a dream. Narrating the stoty in his witty, humorous style, Robert called it ‘his first experience of surrender’, the proposal by Rita to marry him as per Bhagawan’s Dream instructions.
Bhagawan’s Divine discourse followed next. Man is a combination of the trinity, Morality, Righteousness and Spirituality; Man without Truth and Righteousness is no man and man without Love is no man, said Bhagawan stressing on the need to grow from Vyashti, Individual, to Samashti, Community, to grow further into Paremeshti…Divinity, bringing parallels from the Three Wise Men story at the time of the Holy Birth Of Jesus Christ.
Bhagawan concluded His Divine discourse with the bhajan “Bhajana Binaa Sukha Shanthi Nahin…”.
All the children partipants were felicitated; bhajans continued and ended with Mangala Arathi at 1840 hrs.
Three day Christmas celebrations would conclude tomorrow with International Children Choir.
II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II
When Christmas becomes a
big time celebration around the world, often marked with pomp and
show, meeting, eating and shopping much away from the decrees of
Jesus Christ, Prasanthi Nilayam stands uniquely apart celebrating
the event in the holiest way.
After the International Choir on the Christmas Eve, when the Christmas morning dawned here in Prasanthi to its solemn beauty, the Australians took the charge in the ‘day-break’ with Carol singing beginning the proceedings in the morning.
Christmas always had its fairy-tale in the golden past with Bhagawan lightng up the day-break with His silver door darshan, atop the Sai Kulwant balcony. Memories remained poignant with a touch of nostalgia as the Carol party took their seat at the Sanctum Sanctorum in this auspicious morning singing carol hymns for over half-an-hour. The Carol party was ably led by a dynamic young Shiva, who conducted the show.
Following the day-break offering, in the morning, it was the turn of the students, who with a sprinkling of Christmas hymns and stories made the morning most memorable one. Commencing at 0820 hrs., after Rudram chanting, first to come was an offerng by the Violin Band of Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School that played some melodious Christmas tunes including “Love Is My Form…Truth Is My Breath”.
Lifting the spirits from the slow soothing violin to the fast paced beats of percussions, the Institute Brass Band presented a scintillating display of Band Music next, playing an array of special Christmas numbers. The Brass Band from Prasanthi Nilayam Campus has always been an integral part of the Christmas celebrations and this year too they excelled with high beat music reverberating the spacious Sai Kulwant.
From instrumental to vocal. Serenading the Mighty Heavenly Father and His Chosen Son…singing greater glory, the Institute Music Band presented a 45 minute programme next, depicting the life of Jesus through songs and commentary, beginning with his birth, traversing through his epochal life of events, teachings andhis ultimate sacrifice. Some of the songs were We Wish You A Merry Christmas…, Glory To The Lord…, Santa’s Party etc. Excitement ran high when Santa began his party, twin Santas in twin directions delivering chocolates to the lucky ones, to the backdrop high-pitch singing of Jingle Bells…Jingle Bells…Jingle All The Way... The musical band ended their ‘party’ aptly singing the glory of Father and Son and the greater importance of following the life of Jesus, practising his teachings.
Even as bhajans continued, students, both juniors and seniors took their turn offering Christmas Greetings at Bhagawan’s Divine Lotus Feet.
Mangala Arathi at 0950 hrs. marked the end of morning proceedings.
II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II
Lighting up the
Christmas Eve, setting in motion Prasanthi Christmas 2013,
choristers from all over the globe joined in unison singing
‘Hallelujah’ at Beloved Bhagawan this evening here in Prasanthi
Yes, it’s western time again here in Prasanthi Nilayam. No folks, no Country and Western but Western Carols for Christmas. It’s the time of the blessed birth of the Baby Jesus, commemorating the Advent Of The Son Of God and it means a lot for Westerners… and they do get a chance to strut their stuff for their Beloved Bhagawan.
The programme in this beautiful Christmas Eve commenced in typical Indian style, with the auspicious lighting of the lamp, this time lighting the Christmas Candle, mounted in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum. International Christmas Committee Coordinator John Behner from the US along with his predecessor Arthur Hilcoat along with International Christmas Decorations Committee Director Tom Lehoy took the privilege of doing the same in Bhagawan’s Divine Presence.
What followed next was an hour-long devotional offering, raising the spirits up, sinking thousands of hearts in the hall in sublime joy, engulfing the whole of Prasanthi in Love and Peace. The Western Choir had in its repertoire for the evening an offering 18 hymns – including, How Great & Hark The Herald of Mozart, Lord Make Us Carry The Light etc. To make sure that they are in harmony with their host country – Blessed Bharat – the Choir had an invocatory incantation on Lord Ganesha, Sri Ganesha Pancharatna Strotram.
In the evening soon after the candle-lighting ceremony, an all-white-team of men and women choristers, with many women in white flower headband, burst into spells of singing following finger ‘baton’ instructions of the conductor Ms Gisela Sebastian from Germany singing a unique ’18 hymns’. The choristers were accompanied by seasoned ‘musicians’ from various countries, who have been continuously perfecting their skills for the past over ten days.
Beginning with the Ganesha Pancharatna Strotram the choir continued with How Great & Hark The Herald, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, God Gave Me A Song, I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day, Hallelujah…Hallelujah, Lord’s Prayer, My Shepherd, As The Deer… Sai You Are, I Give Myself Away, Hallelujah To The Lord, Silent Night, Someday At Christmas, Lord Make Us Carry The Light, O Tu Rex Gloriae Hallelujah, Blessed The Lord, Oh Dearest Lord Sai Baba, Ave Maria & O Holy Night, Sathya Sai, You Are My Life to end with May All Be Happy… This final song was special for it had an insertion of Musical Piece and a Divine Discourse by Beloved Bhagawan, with Bhagawan assuring His ‘overseas’ children of His eternal blessings…The song insertion was Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah…
With very days of hard work, braving the Indian winter, these choristers had familiarized themselves with 18 new musical pieces – most of them in English – and many of the devotees do not have English as their first language. In addition, there were scores of musicians and to add a final twist of complexity to this ambitious undertaking, most of the people involved were not professional singers or musicians. They do it, for their Swami…with Swami working through them.
Tomorrow, in the Holy Christmas morning, devotees from Australia would be presenting Christmas Carols in the morning at 0615 hrs. that would be followed by Christmas morning programme at 0820 hrs.
President Of India Visits Puttaparthi
The Hon'ble President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee visited Prasanthi Nilayam to offer his respects to Bhagawan at the Mahasamadhi, in the Sai Kulwant hall. The Air India One aircraft made a landing in the Sri Sathya Sai Airport, Puttaparthi. Mr. Mukherjee who was accompanied by the Governor of Andhra Pradesh (AP), Mr. E.S.L. Narasimhan, Chief Minister of AP, Mr. N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Minister for Major Industries, Sugar, commerce and Export promotion of AP, Dr. Geeta Reddy and other dignitaries, were cordially received by the members of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust.
Monday, December 23rd, 2013
around the corner Puttaparthi had a high-profile dignitary visit this afternoon
with President of India reaching Prasanthi Nilayam today.
Christmas Time is in the air once again reminding humanity of the arrival of Mother Mary’s Bundle Of Joy, Baby Jesus and Prasanthi is bathing in festive feeling with holy themes filling all over, thanks to the exuberant team of decorators from Australia.
Western Canteen, the hub of western block of devotees, is dazzling, airing festive fervour well in advance of the D-Day. Sai Kulwant Hall, the Darshan Hall in Prasanthi, is abuzz with activities related to Decorating The House Of The Lord as enthusiastic team of devotees from Australia doing their bit bringing Joy To The World.
This year’s programme would commence tomorrow evening, on the Christmas Eve, with an International Christmas Choir lead by Ms Gisela Sebastian from Germany. A huge block of westerners has been diligently practising for over a week to make it a perfect offering at Bhagawan’s Lotus Feet.
The International Choir would be followed by the International Children Choir on 26th December, a day after the D-Day. Alma Badings, seasoned conductor from the Netherlands has been busy with her group of international children moulding her wards for a perfect show. Christmas week would be also featuring a series of programmes by various western groups until the dawn of the New Year.
In the meanwhile, running into the Christmas Eve, Prasanthi had another high-profile attraction today as President Pranab Mukherjee paid visit to the Ashram this afternoon.
Arriving shortly after 1430 hrs. the President of India and
his retinue were escorted to the Prasanthi Nilayam precincts by senior Trust
officials at around 1500 hrs. Offering pranams at the Sanctum Sanctorum,
President then spent some time in the Bhajan Hall before leaving the premises.…
The President was also accompanied by the Governor and
II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II