Everyone was excited at the prospect of witnessing the Lord swaying to the tune of World Music as he comfortably rested on the Jhoola, while also realising that the grand festivities that marked the past week would soon come to an end. Bhagawan was welcomed in the evening with the traditional Poorna Kumbham which was accompanied by Vedic chants and soulful Bhajans.
The evening’s proceeding began with the Vedic invocation by the girl students from Swami’s institutions. The highlight of the evening programme was the Sri Sathya Sai Award for Human Excellence, an award instituted by Bhagawan in order to honour and celebrate individuals who have gone beyond their call of duty into the realms of selfless service. The most unique aspect of this year’s awards was that the awards were celebrating and commemorating women from across the globe.
The award in the field of Education was given to Dr Sakena Yacoobi, who inspired millions in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the field of education by imparting knowledge and training. In the field of Health, the award was presented to Dr Sarada Menon, a 94-year-old Padma Bhushan awardee, who is the first woman psychiatrist of India. Smt Kousalya Periyasamy, who is among the first Indians to declare herself HIV positive and subsequently help thousands of others to rise above their fear and reignite their zest for life, was the next awardee in the field of Women and Child Welfare. Another awardee in the same category was Mrs Anuradha Koirala, a Padma Shri awardee who has been doing yeoman service in order to save women and children from human trafficking in Nepal. In the field of Environment, the award was presented to Ms Lorna Rutto, who has worked tirelessly to promote recycling and reduce the use of plastics while also producing eco-friendly alternatives. In the category of Music and Fine Arts, Professor Prema Pandurang was recognised for her expositions, discourses and compositions on the Indian scriptures. Under the category of Unity of Religions, Ms Leymah Roberta Gbowee, who hails from Liberia and has strived to unify the hearts of people from various religions in order to promote tolerance, was recognised. Another awardee in the same category was Ms Lucy Kurien, whose organisation provides a haven for destitute women from all religions and factions of society. The last awardee, in the category of Sports, was presented to Ms Meenakshi Raghavan, a Padma Shri awardee who is an expert in the sport of Kalari, a form of martial art.
The award ceremony was followed by the ‘Jhoola Mahotsavam’, an evening that every Sai devotee eagerly awaits. The evening session began with the launch of an online website containing excerpts and musings by Sri Madhusudan Rao Naidu, the chosen communicator of Bhagawan in the subtle form. The next release was a book titled ‘The Legend of Santoor’, capturing the essence of the life and music of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, which was followed by a short musical presentation by Panditji and his son Sri Rahul Sharma on the Santoor. Following this soulful rendition was the much anticipated grand finale of the World Music Festival, where musicians from across the globe, who had performed over the past week as individual flowers, came together as one big garland to be offered at the divine lotus feet on His Birthday.
The evening ended after Arati was offered to Bhagawan.