Cultural Program by devotees from Southern California and Hawaii, 27 Dec2007 - Images
Christmas Celebrations, 25-26 Dec 2007 - Images
Christmas Eve Choirs, 24 Dec 2007 - Images
Like every year, this year too, Christmas celebration in the Divine Presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was full of grandeur and grace. Many devotees started conglomerating at Prasanthi Nilayam days ahead to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the Presence of His Father.
On 24th evening, at 4.40 p.m., Bhagawan granted Darshan in Sai Kulwant Hall that was tastefully decorated for the occasion. The first programme for the evening was children’s choir. They began by reciting verses from the Bhagavad Gita that conveyed the important message that God dwells in all the beings and all the beings dwell in God. They then sang many songs in their sweet voices set to lilting tunes. Seeing their innocent and loving countenance, one was reminded of the Biblical statement “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter in to the kingdom of heaven.”
Then came the adults’ choir where they rendered many carols like “Glory and Praise to the Lord”, “O Christe Domine Jesu”, concluding with “O Holy Night”. The entire hall reverberated with soulful voices of the thousands of men and women from different countries as they sang in perfect harmony to please their Lord. Bhagawan was visibly pleased with their rendition. He called a lady from the choir group who was playing viola and blessed her with a gold chain materialized by Him. The evening programme concluded with Bhajans and Arati.
On the blessed morning of Christmas, Bhagawan emerged from His residence at 8.15 a.m. to grant Darshan. Sai Kulwant Hall was packed to full capacity and people were standing outside and craning their necks to get a glimpse of the Lord. Bhagawan came on to the porch and cut the Christmas cakes prepared by His devotees and students. Students from Sri Sathya Sai Primary School smartly dressed in whites and red overcoat presented a violin concert. As they were playing the familiar tune of “Jingle Bells”, five or six children dressed up as Santa Claus came to Bhagawan to get their bags of goodies blessed by Him and then went around the hall showering them on the crowds. Bhagawan graciously distributed chocolate bars to the budding violin virtuosos. Next was a presentation by the brass band of Sri Sathya Sai University which was well-received by the audience. Then all the students of Bhagawan’s educational institutions joined in singing songs and carols in praise of Lord Jesus Christ and Bhagawan Baba.
In the evening, Bhagawan blessed four speakers to share their thoughts on the holy occasion. Mr. John Behner welcomed the gathering and introduced the speakers. The first speaker was Ms. Inez from Argentina. Ms. Inez had been a student of Sri Sathya Sai Balvikas and then a member of the Sai Youth group in Argentina. She was engaged successfully in the media industry for some time. Later she felt some thing lacking in her life and then was guided by Bhagawan to come to Mumbai for her studies in human values at Sri Sathya Sai Institute at Dharmakshetra, where she is currently a teacher. She began her speech by conveying a message to Bhagawan on behalf of everyone assembled in the hall. She said in chaste Telugu “Swami, memu mimmalanu premistunnamu”, meaning “Swami, we all love you”. At this the entire audience broke in to a loud applause to demonstrate that they agreed with her. At the end of her speech, Bhagawan waved His Divine hand and materialized a gold chain for her and put it around her neck.
The second speaker was Sri Sumeet Tappoo. Sri Tappoo hails from an illustrious family of businessmen in Fiji. His parents were devotees of Bhagawan and great lovers of music. Thus Sri Sumeet took naturally to singing. He was also a part of Balvikas and later joined Sai Youth Group of Australia where he completed his M.B.A. After working in his family business for some years, Sri Sumeet realized that his heart was not in business, but in music. And thus he started composing and singing Bhajans and devotional songs. He was blessed by Bhagawan to sing in His Divine Presence during the Guru Poornima Celebrations earlier this year. Sri Sumeet recounted some experiences of his which demonstrated the power of Bhajans in transforming lives.
The next speaker was Mrs. Poppy Hillcoat from Australia. Mrs. Hillcoat came to Bhagawan more that two decades ago and also had been associated with organizing Christmas celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam for many years along with her husband Mr. Arthur Hillcoat. She recollected numerous experiences of celebrating Christmas at Bhagawan’s Lotus Feet over the past two decades and concluded with a prayer to Bhagawan to allow this tradition to continue in the years to come. The fourth and final speaker for the session was Dr. Michael Congleton from U.S.A. who narrated his experiences of participating in medical camps and other service activities of the Sai Organisation, and the joy and transformation they brought about in the persons who undertook the service activities as well as the beneficiaries. Then Mr. Behner, on behalf of all the devotees, prayed to Bhagawan for His Divine Discourse. Bhagawan indicated that since it was already quite late in the evening, He would grant His benedictory discourse the next evening. At once the audience responded with a loud and sustained applause.
On 26th evening, everyone was seated in Sai Kulwant hall eagerly waiting to listen to Bhagawan’s address, and Bhagawan did not disappoint them. Prior to Bhagawan’s discourse, Bhagawan blessed Prof. Veerabhadraiah, a Professor in Telugu at Sri Sathya Sai University, Prasanthi Nilayam to address the gathering. The learned speaker spoke for close to twenty minutes during which he recounted some of Bhagawan’s astounding miracles that he had witnessed. And finally, Bhagawan rose to deliver His Divine Discourse. Bhagawan narrated the story of the birth and life of Jesus Christ. Bhagawan said that Jesus should not be considered as a mere mortal; he was very powerful and overcame all the challenges in his life with love and faith in God. Swami then explained the significance of the Holy Cross saying that it symbolized the cutting of the “I” or ego. He exhorted everyone to give up their petty egos and realize their divinity by cultivating love and faith in God. Bhagawan concluded His discourse by singing “Hari Bhajana Bina Sukh Shanti Nahi…”
Devotees from Southern California and Hawaii presented a programme in the Divine Presence on the evening of 27th. The first item was a play by children entitled ‘The Boy Jesus’, a musical one act play based on the Gospels of Luke, Matthew and Mark. The opening scene depicted Angel Gabriel visiting Virgin Mary and informing her that she has been chosen to give birth to Lord Jesus. The following four scenes depicted the scenes of nativity concluding with the scene where Jesus meets the rabbis in the temple and learns the commandments of God. The play was interspersed with many popular carols such as “Silent Night”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “The First Noel” and “Joy to the World”. The costumes and the stage props were good and the children acted very well. Bhagawan materialized a gold chain for the child who played the role of Jesus. This was followed by a music programme entitled “Life is a Song; Sing it again” which enthralled the audience with soulful music. At the end of it, Bhagawan personally distributed chocolates to the children and clothes for the participants of the choir. Thus concluded Christmas celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam filling everyone with love and joy.