The term “New Year” signifies a beginning; it represents a renewed sense of vigour and resolve, an opportunity to let go of the past and start afresh. And what a better way to celebrate this auspicious occasion than at the Lotus Feet of the Divine Master! Devotees from across the world gathered at Muddenahalli to celebrate the start of the year, with their beloved Lord.
Bhagawan arrived at 10:30 A.M and the morning programme commenced at Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Auditorium. The gathering was treated to a splendorous musical performance by Lamhe, a band from Bangalore and the alumni, alumnae and current students from the Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions. Sri Dimitris Lambrianos, a Greek musician, who has now made Muddenahalli his home, along with Sri Tim Budden, a devotee from Australia, joined the group to perform at the Divine Lotus Feet. Sri Dimitris is formally trained on the classical piano and bouzouki and can play over 15 musical instruments. This talented and diverse group rendered performances in a myriad of languages – English, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, including two Sufi numbers much to the delight of the audience.
Swami then launched a darshan music CD called Swara Sudha. Mangala Arathi was offered and the morning session concluded with the distribution of prasadam.
The evening session of the New Year celebrations commenced at 5:30 P.M. Swami arrived amidst the sacred sounds of Vedas by High School and PU students from the Muddenahalli campus.
The first speaker for the evening was Sri BS Vijay Sai, a senior alumnus and a former faculty at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Through his speech, he reminded the audience about their good fortune of having Bhagawan, the Supreme Being, take a physical form only to give humanity a taste of what God is all about. Claiming that his own New Year resolution was not to make any but just feel the love of Swami, he cautioned the audience against taking Swami for granted or attempting to interpret His words or actions. His message for the assemblage was “feel what Swami feels (Prema), do what He does (Joy) and be what He is (Bliss)!”
Sri BN Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor, Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust addressed the gathering next. Quoting Mark Twain’s famous maxim, “It is easy to give up smoking. I have done it many times”, he spoke on a subject that touched a nerve with everyone gathered – ‘Why do we not stick to our New Year resolutions?’ Recounting his experiences with the Lord, he impressed upon the audience the need for the self-centered ego within us to be replaced by God-centered ego. He urged the audience to strengthen their New Year resolve of not letting the ego interfere between Bhagawan and them.
After his speech, Swami graciously agreed to bless the gathering with the New Year discourse.
The much-awaited International Choir, led by Choirmistress Yani of Australia, consisting of 18 devotees from six countries – Australia, Germany, Croatia, Greece, Spain and the United States of America – was the next programme of the evening. Swami was so pleased with their recital during Christmas that He blessed them to perform again during the New Year festivities. Ranging from foot-tapping numbers to soul-stirring songs like “Imagine” by the Beetles, they had the audience clapping and swaying along with them every step of the way.
The evening’s proceeding culminated with an awe-inspiring series of musical performances arranged by the extremely talented Sri Dimitris. The musical line up began with a performance by “Sai’s Angels”, a band consisting of students from the Muddenahalli campus. Twelve-year-old Shanti Starnoni from Italy then went on to amaze the audience with a melodious Italian song dedicated to Lord Shiva. This was followed by a foot-tapping aboriginal song recital, traditionally performed at events that bring people together, by Choirmistress Yani, Ms Jessica Probort and Ms Wendy Cameron from Australia. It incorporated a distinctive traditional music style rendered by the indigenous Australian tribe.
A whirlwind fusion performance by Sri Srinivas Viswanadha, music teacher of Swami’s educational campuses and Sri Dimitris followed next. Ms Anandra George, a devotee from the United States of America performed a soul-stirring jazz song ‘Mysty’ thereafter. Formally trained in Indian classical music, Ms George’s heart-tugging song was exceptional. This was followed by a song rendered by Mr Cass Smith, composer of the famous song, “I keep feeling your love in me over and over again”.
Under the able direction of Choirmistress Uma, devotees from Croatia performed a traditional song called ‘Jalta’ next. Choirmistress Yani, offered a famous Jewish song ‘Havanaglila’, a song of celebration and coming together. The penultimate performance, a Greek instrumental piece by Dimitris and his team, displayed the musical prowess gifted to the group by the Lord! The fantastic line-up concluded with a breath-taking grand finale performed by all the artists together. The evening concluded with Mangala Arathi and distribution of prasadam.