Text size: A A A

Please Click Here
to Return to
Love and Light

National Christmas Celebrations 2014 – SSE Articles

A SSE Teachers Perspective

As a teacher, I have always passionately believed in the value of Art and Drama to enhance a child’s learning experience, and have tried to always convey this in my SSE teaching and also in my teacher-training role.

One shining example of how drama can positively influence children, far beyond the acting and costumes, was what I witnessed at the National Christmas Celebrations this year.

This was the second time that our SSE children had performed in the beautiful precincts of Cheltenham Ladies’ College. For Swami, it always must be the very best that we offer to Him, so a new version of the nativity story was chosen and preparations began!

Because the children were taken from our Nursery and Group 1 children, most of them between the ages of 4-6 years, practices started months in advance! Our SSE Co-ordinator took on the mammoth task of guiding more than 40 young children and their parents through the rigours of the first major performance of their lives! She was ably supported by the SSE Nursery teachers, who took on the responsibility of creating lovely little dances for angels, shepherds, stars and sheep. All those teachers who helped, learnt great lessons in patience and perseverance - having to juggle the complicated diaries of so many different families, coping with flu that struck many – and even a few who came down with chicken pox, as well as always trying to keep such young ones focussed and on-task. Throughout, Swami tested their faith and their love and ability to cope under stress, and this was even before the main performance was even in sight!

But the reward for the SSE teachers and parents was the effect that all this preparation had on the children. It was not just a case of coming for SSE classes each week. There were many long rehearsals, co-operation and co-ordination between parents to create the beautiful costumes and props, and the feeling of love and camaraderie that this created between the children was a joy to behold.

We all travelled up to Cheltenham by coach from the Temple at 7 in the morning! Children were sleepy, some were unwell, but all insistent that they would carry on together. One parent in particular, new to Swami and to SSE, told me later that his daughter had been really unwell with a high temperature and could hardly stand. Her mother couldn’t go because their other daughter was very sick also. Yet the little one insisted that she must go, as she was one of the main star dancers. He said he was amazed at her determination and also touched to the heart by the wonderful support shown by the other parents, and teachers, in helping him look after his daughter. They offered medicine and food and drink, words of love and care, even looking after her whilst he took a quick break. He said it felt like he was with his own family. And of course, Swami gave her the strength to go on and perform beautifully!

My thoughts went straight back to our times preparing and performing the Sai Mahima programmes in front of our beloved Lord, so many years ago. Although this play was much smaller in comparison, it echoed the building of those life lessons that so many children gained from those special and spiritual dance-dramas.

The dedication to learning their lines and coming to practices on time, the discipline in listening carefully to the teacher’s instruction and performing in synchrony, the devotion they felt to Swami and to the story of the Birth of Lord Jesus was a true wonder to behold. And all coalesced into a truly spiritual performance at the National Christmas Celebrations. The carols sung by the Christmas Choir, the inspirational talks, the beautiful music, the play and, of course, the Nativity took us straight back to Prashanthi and to our beloved Lord. We felt His presence in those who performed, we felt His presence in those who looked after us so well in Cheltenham and we felt His presence when we saw the joy on the faces of all those beautiful Sai children who conveyed the true meaning of Christmas.

By Mrs Geetha Maheshwaran

SSE Student Perspective

Jai Sai Ram

My name is Hemila Aarti Adnath and I attend SSE Classes at the Merton Sai Centre. Every Year, around October, there is a buzz in the air at Merton, as the centre starts preparation for all the exciting events- Diwali, Akhand Bhajan, Swami’s birthday and the Christmas Nativity Play. All students are asked to participate, but this year, I decided that due to my heavy extra curriculum activities, I would not take part. However, Swami works in mysterious ways and he has other plans for me! So I ended up taking part in the Diwali Play, Bhajan singing and my favourite one, the Christmas Play.

The rehearsals for the Christmas Nativity Play started in early October and we were told that we were going to perform for the National Christmas Celebration in Cheltenham on the 14th December. A big responsibility on our tiny shoulders! But looking back, all the children did a fantastic job. I was given the role of Mary. I was not as keen, as I wanted to be a narrator; but my mum reminded me that every role is important- big or small, and that all I needed to do was give my best. Again, Swami intervened and I was given the chance to be a background narrator for different characters. I thoroughly enjoyed acting and every Friday and Saturday I looked forward to go to the Sai Mandir for rehearsals. I also got to meet lots of new friends from nursery and other groups. Although at times I was tired and had lots of homework to do, I made every effort to attend. Our teacher very calmly and relentlessly worked with all the children to ensure that we were acting properly. For three months, all the children, parents and teachers would come to the Sai Mandir, working as a big family to make sure we gave the best play to Swami.

Finally, the big day arrived! Early in the morning, we all set out on our journey from Wimbledon to Cheltenham by three coaches. It was a long journey and it was made interesting by other Sai devotees sharing their experiences and yummy food. Once we reached the venue, all the children relaxed a bit and we got dressed up in our costumes. Again, we were all excited as all the mummies transformed us into Super Stars- the angels were radiantly beautiful, the stars were sparkling and the shepherds were all in character. I have to say, I do get a bit nervous but as usual, I reminded myself that I would be acting for Swami.

Before the Play started, we all sat down silently and chanted Three AUMs and offered our prayers to Swami. As the Play started, the beautifully decorated stage became lively as each character portrayed their roles. The youngest ones – the stars, dazzled as they danced, the angels shared heavenly secrets with the shepherds and the narrators reminded us of Swami’s messages. The Play was fantastic and the finale was spectacular with all the children having a standing ovation from the audience.

It was yet another beautiful experience that taught me many things like the fact that practice makes perfect and that discipline and teamwork is the ultimate objective. I have made some wonderful friends. With Swami’s blessings, all the children performed to their best ability and we even got lucky as we got our Christmas treat from Santa early!!!

I’d like to say a big thank you to Swami, our teacher, all the children, the parents and the audience.

Sai Ram
Hemila Adnath
SSE, Merton Sai Centre

Brixton Sai Centre SSE Students

On Sunday 14 December we, the SSE children of Brixton Sai Centre, travelled to the Ladies College in Cheltenham, which was the venue of the National Christmas Celebration. There were many children and parents as well. I really enjoyed the day and being with my friends. Our play, 'The Loyal Builder' had a strong message about love and giving to others. I hope that the audience learnt something from it. After the play, I felt more confident. I want to thank my friends and teachers for supporting me and helping me build up my confidence. – Priyanka Pun

I had an amazing time on Sunday at the Cheltenham Ladies College celebrating Christmas with my beloved Sai family. After the 2 hour journey from London, I managed to learn a lot from the day through carols, readings and talks about the life of Jesus Christ and how he and Sathya Sai Baba were no different. We, the SSE students from Brixton Sai Centre, performed a play called ‘The Loyal Builder’; I was so pleased to see the audience give us a standing ovation at the end, which filled me with so much joy. The highlight of the day for me was when Santa Claus came into the hall and all the children went crazy running around trying catch the sweets being thrown at them. The venue was breathtaking with its old church look and the choir was especially good. I will definitely be going to next year’s National Christmas Celebration. – Yuvish Luckputtya.

I thought the National Christmas Celebration was a great experience and was great fun too. Everyone came together to celebrate as one big family and I think that's the greatest part of the programme. It was also good to come together and have the experience of a church service, with the readings as well as the carols. Everyone seemed very welcoming and appreciated the play we performed; I am really happy I had a chance to make others feel happy with the play, and I am glad they enjoyed it. I am really appreciative of those who took their time and effort to make the programme happen and make it the best it could be, as in the end it was great fun and it was really enjoyable. – Bhelina Luckputtya