Please Click Here
to Return to
Love and Light

National Christmas Celebrations 2011

It always seems to me to be a miracle that out of apparent chaos (albeit organized chaos) comes something so beautiful when it is held in Swami’s Name and when everyone comes together to Love and Serve and to honour our beloved Lord.

This is how I felt at the end of the National Christmas Festivities held in Swindon less than 3 weeks after the wonderful Birthday Celebrations and just 8 days before Christmas. We had all enjoyed a very beautiful and uplifting celebration of the Nine Lessons and Carols, celebrating the Birth of Christ, which was attended by about 350 devotees from all over the UK.

The whole day had flowed seamlessly, guided by the gentle touch of the MC for the day Dr. Mahesh. From Anahata’s dulcet tones and Mel’s eloquently respectful opening welcome; the delightful singing of the Children’s Gospel Choir; the beautiful carols and Bible readings telling the story of the nativity, led impeccably by the Rev Stephen Henderson; Louise Illig’s humble and heart felt description of magical moments with Swami; and Santa’s avuncular appearance; through to Shitu’s robust and appreciative vote of thanks at the end. And last, but definitely not least, the delicious Christmas Lunch. Everyone left with a big smile on their faces, full of Christmas cheer!

However, it is unlikely that this event would have happened had it not been for the extraordinary dedication and commitment by many devotees from all parts of the country, working independently or in small groups but coordinated by the loving, firmly gentle and persistent encouragement of the National Planning Team.

Just a few weeks earlier, in preparation for this wonderful day:

• long nights in cold sheds up and down the country were spent by many in construction of the stage and props;
• groups of singers were anxiously trying to learn their various carol harmonies and practising them on unsuspecting (but nevertheless grateful) elderly residents of nursing homes and hospitals;
• emails and conference calls buzzed to and fro in abundance, discussing delicious recipes for Christmas fare, decorations, talks, flowers, music, readings....
• Local Christian priests were consulted and encouraged to participate;
• Musicians and singers from many different regions were debating keys and instruments and descants, knowing that there would be no time for all to come together for a final practice...
• Devotees, carrying bits of scenery, drove along icy motorways from various parts of the UK the night before or in the early hours of Saturday morning, trusting that all their hard work would come together on ‘the day’ to create a spectacularly beautiful nativity alter.

There was no alternative but to put our faith in Swami and trust all would be as He Willed..... and He willed that it was really beautiful, a wonderful start to the Christmas season with true Christian sharing and unity in evidence.

My thanks to all who contributed and attended and above all to our Beloved Swami without whom none of this would have been possible.
Clare Pargeter, Centre Chair, Bath. Region 7

“At this season of goodwill and peace it was a real pleasure to be able to come and share in your national celebrations. There was a real sense of people wanting to pursue the very highest human aspirations of reverence, holiness and a real sense of joy in people meeting together. The food was good too. I haven’t opened the mysterious parcel yet and will do so on Christmas Day. The tradition of opening presents on that day symbolises the receiving of the divine gift of the Saviour who by showing the full extent of his love by forgiving us even when we showed how wrong we could get life and miss God”-
Reverend Stephen Henderson,
Presiding Minister, Christmas Service at the National Christmas Celebrations

“Congratulations for a most beautiful and enchanting Sai Christmas gathering. The atmosphere was charged with His Love and your programme was from A to Z a pure delight. My husband and I count ourselves previleged to have been invited. Wishing your brilliant team of helpers a very Merry Christmas & a New Year filled with Swami's Blessings”-
Louise Illig-Mooncie, Guest Speaker

“…..Wow and wow again – at the surprise of a traditional Christian lunch. It was the best Christmas dinner so far this year! By the end of the first half when the familiar smell of curry wasn’t coming out of the kitchen, I wondered whether the cooks and the food had arrived. From someone who cannot digest spicy foods, I was amazed and touched to find a roast dinner had been organised. Every detail down to the goblets of sparkling red and white ‘wine’, the mince pies and cream - pretty impressive. Thank you ladies, planners and financers!
It can sometimes be a rush to eat lunch and get back to the second half of programmes when events overrun but on this occasion. I thought that everything was so relaxed, with plenty of time to eat, mix with friends and digest meals before moving on to the second half .
Wow, wow, wow again and again to the Gospel singers. As with other Sai events, children are never forgotten but given centre stage and this choir with its charming children of all ages was just what we needed to energise the proceedings in readiness of the second half.
I’ve lost count of the number of wows, but the ‘pièce de résistance’ has to go to dear Santa Claus. When word gets out about him he will have a full time job delivering his jollity and gifts to the children of this world. Best Santa I’ve ever seen - so full of fun and hilarity. The perfect ending to a wonderfully uplifting programme”-
Lynnette Stopford
Participant from Devon