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Love and Light

National Christmas Celebrations 2012

This year, Sri Sathya Sai National Christmas celebrations were held in Cheltenham, Gloustershire, with the theme being “Our Life is His Message”. The theme chosen is not only glorious but is greatly relevant, as with our Lord’s transition from the form to the formless, it is we, His children, whose duty it is to spread this divine message of His. Our Sai Family gathered into a beautiful and traditional chapel-styled hall, where the feeling of Swami’s presence was verily overwhelming and peaceful. The stage was adorned with a large endearing photo of Baba dressed in a resplendent yellow robe, with His chair close by. Also on the platform, a festive nativity scene was placed alongside a photo of Jesus in the divine company of the Archangel Gabriel, who is the embodiment of purity. What more could we ask for? The spiritual vibrations emanating from Swami’s alter were most magnificent and intense.

The celebrations initiated with invocation Hymns sung by Ms Kathryn Crossweller. After which, a welcome address was given by Mr Mel Griffin, a Trustee from the Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK. In this, Mr Griffin expressed the mission of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, including the 5 human values which Swami‘s teachings are primarily based upon (Love, Peace, Truth, Right-Conduct & Non-Violence), underlining the importance of rendering selfless service and love to mankind.

The service was of the format “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols”, where alternate readings from the Holy Bible and carols are sung. This was led by Reverend Katie McClure, who gave the first reading. Overall, there were a divine number of 9 readings and 9 carols. One representative from each region gave a reading, and amongst the choir our Sai family from all regions took part. Reverend Katie talked about the coming of the Three incarnations at one stage. Although Reverend did not directly speak of the three Avatars as we know them, it did bring about an electric feeling at the time! The singing of carols sent powerful vibrations resonating throughout the building! Whilst carols were being sung, SSE children came upon stage dressed in nativity costumes, giving a radiant visual perspective of the stable when baby Jesus was born. The hymn “We three kings” was accompanied on sitar by Akash Parekh, and this definitely intensified the heavenly atmosphere in the hall! Also not to be forgotten were the precious glimpses of Swami being shown regularly on screen during the whole event, and this indeed was a true Christmas treat to the eyes!

Thereafter, the Mayor of Cheltenham gave an address, in which he also drew attention to the need of extending our hands and hearts into serving society. This was followed by closing Hymns by the Quire Voice Ensemble, Windsor.

After reciting the food prayer, a special Christmas lunch was served lovingly to everyone by volunteers. The way our lunch was served with full devotion was heart-warming, and undoubtedly enhanced the taste of our food! Also, just to mention, the Nut roast was simply delicious! Shortly after lunch followed Gospel singing by the Children’s Choir from Leicester.

Our guest speaker for the day was Reverend Leonora Van Gills from Suffolk, who is a long standing ardent devotee of Swami. Reverend Van Gills shared with us her countless wonderful experiences with Swami, and also expressed how Baba wants us to realise that we are not different from Him. This is such a significant message, as in His physical body, Swami consistently used to say “You are as close to God as you are to yourself.” Reverend Van Gills also sang the first Bhajan of the day! We all thoroughly enjoyed listening to her speech.

This was followed by an elevating Jyoti meditation, and then closing hymns.

Although the real reason behind Christmas is to celebrate the auspicious birth of Lord Jesus, it was a humorous surprise having Santa Claus come from behind the curtain to give out presents to the children. Whilst this was happening, on screen was shown footage of a similar event that happened In Swami’s immediate divine presence in 2003 at Prashanthi Nilayam!

Dr Kiran Patel, the National Chair of our organisation, gave us the closing reflections for the day and To conclude we all sung Swami’s Arati in English, followed by Omkar.

The service was spectacular and we all felt as though we were in the divine abode of Prashanthi Nilayam itself, with Baba gazing intently upon us all!

Jai Sai Ram!
Article Submitted by Radhika Patel from Region 2National Christmas Celebrations 2012