Two-day Chinese New Year celebrations began on a grand note with Buddhist chants, music, invigorating speeches by Brother Billy Fong and Sister Isabella Chu, lively songs and to cap it all melodious Bhajans. The year, being the year of Rooster, which signifies punctuality is hoped that it would be the harbinger of peace, health and happiness.
The proceedings began with offerings made at the Samadhi according to Chinese tradition. Buddhist chants to glorify the name of Buddha and Bodhisattva were chanted by devotees from Indonesia. Next Brother Billy Fong made a speech, who has been the coordinator of Chinese New Year Celebrations for the 11th year in succession. Offering salutations to Bhagawan, Brother Billy Fong narrated an experience wherein before the performance of a drama during the second year of Chinese New Year Celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam, Bhagawan came to backstage and enquired as to, who were participating in the drama. When Brother Billy Fong mentioned that devotees from Malaysia, Singapore, etc., were participating, Bhagawan questioned as to, where were the devotees from China. To the applause of the entire audience, Brother Fong announced that this year there were 13 devotees from mainland China. The 13 devotees then stood up and presented themselves to the audience. Among the 12 types of devotion, compassion finds a prominent place. In the maxims, Help Ever, Hurt Never, Love All, Serve All, there is an undercurrent of kindness and compassion. Swami has established educational institutions, hospitals, given water to millions of people, these visible manifestations of kindness and compassion, said the learned speaker. Brother Fong also released a book “Ten Avatars" available in Chinese and English.
Thereafter “Sathya Sai Harmonica”, a group consisting of devotees from Malaysia played harmonious notes on their Harmonica. Judge Isabella, a pious and devout lady from Hong Kong spoke next. She came to know of Bhagawan after His Maha Samadhi. Ms. Isabella made a revealing declaration to the audience that it is her 83rd visit to Prasanthi Nilayam. In spite of her busy schedule, she made it a point to visit Prasanthi Nilayam regularly. The erudite speaker said that she comes back here every time to reenergize and recharge herself. “When I come here, I think of only Bhagawan without accessing Facebook and WhatsApp and even having no contact with her family members”, said the speaker. She declared to the public that Sai Kulwant Hall has the most divine vibrations. So, people should utilize it to the maximum by being in communion with the Divine. Ms. Isabella said that one should do one’s duty punctiliously since Duty is God. If Swami is happy, everyone will be happy. She said that Prasanthi Nilayam is the head office for everyone. Even if Swami is not visible in His physical form, he is still present with us, in each and every one of us, said the devout speaker. Narrating an experience of how Bhagawan’s Will is enough for anything to get accomplished, she said that within 2 days, Visa was arranged for Chinese devotees from the Indian Consulate in China. Even the officer at Bengaluru airport said, “No English” and “Welcome to Puttaparthi to your Chinese group.
What followed next was a medley of Chinese New Year songs sung with vigor and enthusiasm with soothing music. To mention a few: “Om Mani Padme Hum”, “Happy New Year, everyone here”, “Gong Xi Gong Xi Glad to be here in Prasanthi Nilayam”, Om Sri Sai Ram, Sai Baba Tera Naam”.
After a few Bhajans and distribution of Prasadam to everyone present in the Hall, the 1st day proceedings concluded with Arati.