April 2, 2009 – Programme by Orissa Devotees
Every summer, Swami does something different and special, as if He is blessing the efforts of the people who tide over the harsh summer conditions. This year, Swami has moved the venue of the bhajans from the Bhajan Hall, outside to the Sai Kulwant Hall. So, both in the mornings and evenings, the devotees have the joy of seeing Swami as the bhajans go on. On the morning of April 2, after the bhajans, Swami told the Kerala State President, Prof. Mukundan, to make an announcement that there would be a cultural programme that evening.
In the afternoon, devotees from Orissa presented their programme on the eve of the festival of Rama Navami. For those unaware, during Dasara celebrations in September 2008, Swami had announced that He would construct permanent houses for those affected by the devastating flood in Orissa. The first batch of those houses - about 200 of them - were ready within four months of construction. Swami had agreed to present the keys to all the poor beneficiaries who had come in batches.
That evening, Swami arrived a few minutes before 5 p.m. He took a complete round of the hall and arrived on stage via the veranda. He had arranged for clothes to be distributed to the poor folk of Orissa. It was very evident that it was the first thing on Swami's mind as that was what He wanted to be done as soon as He arrived. The clothes were neatly packaged in a bag and the distribution began in the divine presence. The overwhelming gratitude of the people was evident as they prostrated on the floor in front of Him on receiving the clothes. The men received first, followed by the women. Many of them broke down and tears flowed freely from their eyes, down their cheeks. Some of the women just refused to rise after falling prostrate on the ground. Like a tumbler that falls flat on the floor and empties all the water within, these recipients rose leaving the portico wet with their tears. They literally had nothing else to offer and it was for the first time in their lives that someone had valued their tears so much! Swami sat calm amidst this storm of swelling emotions, blessing everyone. The volunteers ensured a smooth distribution.
If one eats sweets always, over time their tongue gets insensitive to sweetness. Sometimes a similar condition befalls those who always stay in Prasanthi Nilayam, witnessing His ever-flowing love in action. It can get numbing at times, for it is a daily sight! But on this day even such benumbed hearts melted as the grateful recipients broke down in joy! Like rivers emptying themselves into an ocean, these innocent villagers poured their devotion to Swami, and He in turn replenished the very same rivers with 'showers' of Grace! The whole sight was humbling and beautiful. Swami conducted the whole event so silently and smoothly. He promised that He would gift them with the keys to their homes the next day on Sri Rama Navami.
As the distribution came to a close, Swami went briefly into the interview room and after He returned, asked for the cultural programme to begin; it was about to become six o'clock. They began their programme by welcoming Swami by blowing the conch. Three small children blew two conches each for about three minutes as Swami watched them. Next, was a "Pala" performance. Consisting of 8-9 members, it was a performance in rustic style, narrated in Hindi and Oriya, where there is a single lead singer and the others are accompanists. It was a moving performance as they recounted their travails when the devastating floods hit their homes in July and August of 2008. Then, with great joy, the raconteur related how the Hands of God came to their rescue. Towards the end of the performance, the lead singer became very emotional as he prayed for Swami's divine redeeming feet to touchdown upon the soil of Orissa. As he broke down, Swami called Him up to the stage and spontaneously materialized a gold chain for him. As Swami put the chain around his neck he continued to pray for Swami's visit to Orissa and the crowd burst into rapturous applause. A 20-minute Hindi drama on Sabari's story was the next presentation.
The depiction showed the early life of Sabari. The scene opens with tribals breaking into dance and music on the eve of Sabari’s wedding ceremony. Having been exposed to the sacred vibrations of the Mantras chanted in the Ashram of Sage Matanga, she leads a Satwic life with vegetarian habits. Naturally, she disapproves of the inhuman and barbaric custom of an innocent creature’s sacrifice before the deity of the tribe as part of the marriage ritual. She runs away from home into the forest away from her marriage. Being a girl, she is forbidden to enter an ashram, but after hiding behind, listening to discourses and performance of spiritual practices, she is blessed by Sage Matanga to stay in his ashram. The sage reveals to her that one day she would be blessed with Sri Rama’s darshan.
The drama culminated with Saabari being blessed with the divine darshan, sparshan and sambhashan of the Lord. She feeds Him with berries apparently 'desecrated' by her tasting it to verify whether they were sweet enough for the Lord. But the Lord is lost in tasting the sweetness of her devotion and grants her liberation. The short skit was very well performed and the voices used were very unique and distinct. The Hindi playlet ended and the members assembled in front of Swami. Swami moved down amidst them and posed with a lovely smile as the photographers captured the moment. He spoke to a few of them, asking them their names. Returning to the stage, Swami received aarthi and returned to His residence at 6:45 p.m.
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