“Sport has the power to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela. “It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to the youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”
The Sathya Sai Sports and Cultural Meet is an annual celebration of the spirit of hope, courage and faith. The meet is not as much about the display of talent, proficiency and skill as it is about the display of unwavering faith and unsullied love. The death-defying daredevil acts of valour by the young students of Bhagawan stand tall among the hills of Chikkabalapur, inspiring the onlookers with their total faith in their Lord. Driven only by their untethered faith in their Master, these students manage to not just learn new feats each year but also excel in them.
Bhagawan arrives at the venue
Bhagawan arrived at the Sri Sathya Sai Samagamam Stadium in a beautifully decorated chariot that was led ably by the Muddenahalli Brass Band and traditional dancers. The Sports Meet was then officially declared open with the lighting of the lamp by the Guests of Honour, which included luminaries such as Sri Ramalinga Reddy, Honourable Minister for Transport, Karnataka, Sri KH Muniyappa, Member of Parliament, Sri Jude Felix, Former Captain of the Indian Hockey team and an Arjuna awardee, Sri Ronjan Sodhi, Indian Trap Shooter and recipient of the Arjuna award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Major General VPS Bhakuni, Visisht Seva Medal Awardee.
A display of grit, grandeur and grace
The first presentation for the morning was the parade by the students from all the campuses. As contingents from every campus, matched steps and passed the dais, it was a pure display of disciple and cooperation. Once all the contingents had marched past the central dais, they assembled in the grounds for the oath-taking ceremony, collectively promising their Lord to let only the spirit of sportsmanship and team work guide their presentations. Bhagawan then lit the flame in the torch, which symbolises goodwill and harmony. This was followed by the ceremonial release of pigeons, praying and hoping for peace.
While the colourful displays on the ground captivated the entire gathering, the para motor presentation put up by the students of the Muddenahalli campus, left them in awe. While the paragliders steered to great heights, what shone forth was the soaring belief that the students had in their Bhagawan.
The aerial treats were followed by the lion dance, a traditional Chinese dance that is a daring stunt, typically performed during the celebrations that mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year. The yogic and religious formations by the students from the Mandya campus followed next. From synchronised pyramids to pole formations, from dances to basketball dunks to skating through rings of fire, the boys and girls did it all, leaving their Mother Sai proud of His property, His students.
The next display was the much-awaited horse riding and horseback stunts, jumping and gliding through the obstacle course. The audience watched, spellbound, as the young jockeys dared to make the perfect jump, transitioning from fear to fearlessness. The last item on display was the incredible bike stunts. As the students rode the bikes, they performed unimaginable feats that left everyone wide-eyed. The morning carnival ended after Arathi was offered to Swami.
Day – 1, Evening
After a spectacular show of character on the field in the morning, the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Institutions continued to impress in the evening too. Bhagawan was welcomed in to the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Hall by the student representatives from all the campuses as well as by the alumni and alumnae of the Prasanthi Nilayam, Brindavan and Anantapur campus. Led by the Poorna Kumbha, Bhagawan was ushered into the hall.
Evening Cultural Presentation
Once Bhagawan was seated on the dais, the evening proceedings began with the Vedic invocation by the students from Sri Sathya Sai Divya Nikethanam, Jayapura campus, chanting the Medha Suktham.
The evening cultural presentation was a dance recital based on the Sri Sathya Sai Ashtotra Namavali by the girl students of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir School in Hyderabad. The girls offered their programme, titled ‘Sri Sathya Sai Ashtotra Natyamalika’, as a token of their gratitude to Bhagawan for having announced the opening of a new Pre-University and Degree College in Hyderabad.
At the end of the programme, Bhagawan announced that the construction of the PU and Degree College would begin this year and the college would be functional by the next academic year.
The evening programme ended with the offering of Aarthi to Bhagawan.
To see more pictures of the Sports and Cultural Meet, click here.