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Christmas Celebrations Report

Christmas Eve 24/12/03
Devotees from various parts of the world thronged Prasanthi Nilayam to celebrate Christmas. Befitting the occasion, Sai Kulwant Hall wore a festive look with colourful decorations. Idols of Father Joseph and Mother Mary with child Jesus in the crib and the three wise men adorned the stage. Bhagawan came to the Hall at 3.20 p.m. Soon the ambience was surcharged with melodious carols by children and elders from overseas. Interestingly, the programme commenced with a Vedic invocation to Lord Ganesha. The day's proceedings came to a close with distribution of Prasadam and Bhagawan left for His abode at 5.25 p.m.

Christmas 25/12/03
On the Christmas day, the entire Hall was filled with devotees as early as five in the morning. Devotees from the overseas sang carols. At 7.00 a.m., Bhagawan came to the Hall and showered His benediction on the devotees. A group of Primary School students played beautiful tunes on their violins. Their tunes captivated the audience and kept them spellbound. Then it was the turn of the brass band from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. They played a few carols and enlivened the atmosphere with their sonorous tunes. Suddenly, all eyes were drawn to a boy dressed as Santa Claus. He danced his way through the hall distributing toffees to the devotees and students. As the devotees were settling from this excitement, the students started carols wishing everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Two students gave a brief introduction to each carol. The carols were also supported with suitable musical accompaniments. In the end, Bhagawan lovingly cut the cakes prepared by the students and overseas devotees. Prasadam was distributed to all the devotees and Arati was offered to Bhagawan.

In the evening, Bhagawan came to the Hall at 3.30 p.m. Six speakers made inspiring presentations bringing alive the spirit of Christmas. The first speaker spoke on the motherly aspect of Swami. She went on to speak about how Swami solved her family problems and brought about peace and happiness to everyone in her family. She ended her speech by drawing parallels between Swami's life and that of Joseph, Mary and Jesus Christ.

The second speaker spoke on the boundless joy he was experiencing all along this Christmas festival as he was celebrating it in the Divine presence. He reiterated Swami's message that we are all one. He further said that we should have firm faith that God exists and that we should love everybody we come in contact with.

The third speaker was a student from the MBA class of the institute. He narrated an interesting incident that happened in Kodaikanal. Swami posed a question to those seated round Him, "Who am I?" Those present gave various answers, but Swami was not satisfied. Swami then declared in simple, yet profound words, "I am I." The student concluded his speech with an important statement that one should let go off all one's temptations and cling on to God.

The fourth speaker spoke about the implicit obedience and complete faith that one has to develop towards Bhagawan. He said that to enter the Kingdom of God, one has to follow Swami's command in letter and spirit.

The penultimate speaker recalled an experience he had had in a plane journey wherein Swami saved him from the jaws of death. He said that this adequately demonstrates the omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence of Swami. He concluded by saying that there is no limit to what Swami has done, can do and will do.

The last speaker said that Jesus Christ stood for two things, namely, Love and Sacrifice. He then explained that love and sacrifice always go together, and that one cannot exist without the other. He then quoted the title of a book by Horward Murphet, a well known devotee and author of many books on Swami - "Where The Road Ends", and said that our physical journey towards God may end at Prasanthi Nilayam, but thereafter begins our spiritual journey inwards.

At 4.50, Swami showered His grace by delivering His Christmas Message. Bhagawan concluded His speech with the song, "Bhajagovindam "
In the end, Arati was offered and Bhagawan left for His abode.

New Year Day Celebrations:
1st of January saw the former men students of the Sri Sathya Sai educational institutions, gather at the Lotus Feet of their Lord for an emotional celebration. They presented a music programme in the Sai Kulwant Hall in the afternoon, and later led the Bhajans too. The blissful moments spent in the immediate presence of Bhagawan would have brought to their minds memories of the happy days spent as students, basking in the Love of Bhagawan.

The students had earlier conducted a medical and veterinary camp at Maarala village about 30 kms. from Prasanthi Nilayam. Around 2500 patients were screened at the camp and some were identified for follow-up treatment at the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital. Narayan Seva (Community feeding) was also organised at the village and the camp concluded with Pallaki Seva (Bhajans with a palanquin bearing Swami's photo being taken in a procession). On the morning of 31st December, the students prayed to Bhagawan to distribute clothes to around 300 underprivileged children from villages in the Puttaparthi mandal. Bhagawan graciously agreed, and the children were fortunate to receive the clothes from His Hands.

A music programme and a rendition by the brass band of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning were among the other highlights of the New Year Celebrations.

Bhagawan in His Divine Discourse stressed on the importance of making every moment of our life sacred by using the body in the service of one's fellowmen. He declared, "The best way to Love God, is to Love All and Serve All".

The evening programme concluded with arati being offered to Bhagawan