December 24, 2009 – Beautiful Christmas Eve in Prasanthi

Christmas is that time of the year that is associated with joy and merriment. It is a time when forgiveness fills the air and love levels all distinctions. It is the time when the children are made answerable to dear Santa and everyone puts on their best behaviour. As the lines of a popular carol go, “He knows if you are sleeping; he knows when you are awake. He knows if you have been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake.”

Traditionally, at Puttaparthi, the Christmas Eve celebrations are by the overseas devotees while the carol singing on the Christmas day is done by the students of Sai University.

More than 900 devotees had gathered in the Sai Kulwant Hall to celebrate Christmas with the Father, singing out in Love. Shortly after 4:20 p.m., Swami arrived for darshan into the Sai Kulwant Hall. Everything had been impeccably arranged and as always, a red carpet separated the ladies and gents. Swami turned into the carpeted path and moved through the overseas devotees and their joy knew no bounds.

Taking a round of the portico where there were many foreigners seeking His blessings, Swami arrived onto the stage. With Swami in the centre, the hall was now picture perfect. That is the case always! Anything becomes perfect when Swami is at the centre. 

Swami heard the Veda chanting for a while and then asked for the programme to begin. Ms. Sylvia Alden moved up to the stage and sought His blessings to start the programme. Taking her role as the conductor, she flicked her wand and the magic of a thousand throats singing in unison unfolded! The next hour, Sai Kulwant Hall was the Indian version of the Vatican.

The decorations in the hall were simple, yet rich. They were so apt that one felt as if he/she was seated in some far away land. The star that guided the wise men to Jesus was now shining atop the Mandir and that day it was indicating to everyone alike, the Presence of the Father!

The altos, tenors and supranos filled the air. Swami sat in the centre, going through the words of each and every song being sung. He would look up at everyone as every song concluded. His attention would be riveted on the instrumentalists, especially the drummers, as the next piece would start. Once the singing would begin, He would be lost in the booklet that had been presented to Him as He would keenly read the lyrics of the song. He was like such a sweet and innocent child on the Christmas eve!

The compositions sung were, Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam, Carol of the Bells, Silent Night, O Come all Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger, Sanctus (Italian), Here I am the Lord, Jesus Born on this Day, Jesus What a Wonderful Child, Angels We Have Heard on High, When a Child is born, Glory Hallelujah, Turn Your Eyes, We Love You Bhagavan, Joyful, Joyful We adore Thee, Amen -Hallelujah and O Holy Night.

Just before the last composition could be sung, Swami asked the conductor, "Is it over?" She replied, "Swami, one more." It was so cute as Swami smiled sweetly and said, "One more? Okay." And then started looking keenly again behind the booklet reading the lyrics! The singing concluded and Swami was extremely happy with everyone. He sat for a while conferring smiles on everyone all around.

Swami then called the Christmas Celebrations International Co-ordinator, Mr. John Behner and asked him to announce the three-day Christmas Programme. Even as that was being done, He called one of the students up the stage and asked him what he felt about the programme.

A beautiful interaction evolved between Swami and His dear student. Everyone sat in silent bated breath as to what was going on. After a few minutes, the student rose and went to the mike. He started to speak. He expressed gratitude to Swami and prayed on behalf of all the students for an opportunity to sing in His presence on the Christmas morning.

He then went on to thank profusely the International Choir for such a beautiful evening filled with music and love. Very often Swami says, "My boys are My voice." In that light, this unexpected expression of thanks from the His student brought great joy in the hearts of the carolers. After the boy had spoken, Swami blessed him with padanamaskar.

Christmas also happens to be the anniversary of the senior students' hostel. The hostel had been beautifully decorated with lights and the photos of the same were shown to Swami. Swami patiently glanced through all the pictures and blessed trays of toffees for distribution. By 6:25 p.m., Swami blessed everyone assembled and moved towards the residence.

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