The Annual Sports and Cultural Meet is one of the most special events in the calendar of the Sri Sathya Sai Institutions. With months of practice and hard work having gone into the preparing for this unique event, every year, 15th January marks the D-Day when the efforts of all the students and staff comes to fruition with a magnificent display of a vast array of sports in an effort to bring a smile to the face of their beloved Mother Sai.
The morning’s proceedings were indeed most spectacular to behold as Bhagawan arrived into the Sri Sathya Sai Samagamam Stadium, escorted by a majestic parade consisting of: the Ashwa Kumaris – horse riding girls from Nallakadirenahalli campus, Vedam girls, Sai Symphony – girls’ brass band, Sai’s Angels – boys’ brass band, a ceremonial slow marching squad, Vedam boys, boys from the PU College and Centre for Human Excellence on horses and boys on motorbikes ahead of the cavalcade.
Upon reaching the dais, as Bhagawan alighted from the Swan Chariot, rose petals showered fragrant blossoms on Him. After He ascended the dais, Bhagawan along with Sri T B Jayachandra, former Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Karnataka and Sri Arvind Savur, former International Billiards and Snooker Champion and recipient of the Arjuna and Dronacharya Awards, lit the ceremonial lamp declaring the Sports and Cultural Meet 2019 open
After Bhagawan and the dignitaries had taken their seats on the dais, the morning’s proceedings kicked off with the graduate students of the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence, Gulbarga, undertaking the marvellous feat of descending from a hot air balloon at a lofty height of 150 feet. These Akashaveeras truly displayed much courage and poise undertaking this daunting challenge. After they had reached the ground safely, Bhagawan profusely blessed these three brave students.
The next event of the morning was the march past, which saw 50 contingents of students presenting a grand parade to the lively and upbeat tunes played by the Sai’s Angels and Sai Symphony bands. Discipline is the medium of instruction in Bhagawan’s educational institutions and the first, second and third languages are love, service and Sadhana! March past is all about synchronization and team work and all the students displayed a wonderful mix of both in their majestic march past.
The march past was followed by the oath taking ceremony which was led this year, by Brother Shashank Narayan of third year, Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence. Every student took this oath, swearing that they would participate in the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet for the sake of their institutions, country and most importantly, for their beloved Bhagawan.
Bhagawan then lit the torch for this year’s meet, blessing the group of athletes who then carried the torch towards the hills, where the 2019 torch vehicle Shwetaashwa or Celestial Horse flew with the flame to light the torch at the top of the mountain. This glorious moment was a sight to behold as Bhagawan simultaneously released white doves and a bunch of colourful balloons were released to mark the beginning of the grand ceremony.
Next, was a band salute march by both the girls’ and boys’ bands. Sai’s Symphony led the procession playing the heart touching Brass Explosion. The boys’ band, Sai’s Angels followed with the popular upbeat composition, ‘The Washington Post’.
The next event was one of the highlights for the morning, with a magnificent aerial adventure with paramotors. Even as Brothers Siddharam and Sonu Kumar of the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence, took to the skies everyone watched with bated breath as these Akasha Veeras navigated the windy skies and attempted to land in the stadium. However, with great discipline and poise both students landed most beautifully and ran to seek Bhagawan’s blessings.
The following presentation marked the first of its kind in the history of the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet as a contingent from Nigeria became the first ever overseas group to participate in this glorious event. The brothers and sisters of the Embodiments of Love Academy in Nigeria and Heart of Love Children’s Home in Enugu, Africa, performed two dances full of vibrancy and vigour, in praise of God.
This was followed by a display on aerial hoops by the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva High School, Muddenahalli campus, performing various Yogasanas on hoops suspended 60 feet high. These yogis of the high school performed the Yogasanas with great balance and dexterity, displaying the essence of Bhagawan’s dictum, “Heads in the forest, hands in society”.
The young wrestlers from the Sri Sathya Sai Premaniketanam campus in Bijapur were next to take centre stage as they exhibited various Asanas or postures on a pole. Known as Mallakhamba, this is a traditional sport of Indian origin in which the gymnast performs yogic postures and wrestling grips atop a pole.
Next, was the students from the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir School in Hyderabad, who displayed their skills in Shotokan Martial Arts. These young girls presented a range of skills ranging from karate to splendid displays of strength with weight lifting and tile-breaking among other things.
The students of the Sri Sathya Sai Sharadaniketanam campus at Mandya were next to follow as they showcased various feats on high wheels mounted on a structure at a height of almost 40 feet from the ground. With incredible courage and infinite fortitude, the students performed cartwheels, juggled tennis balls and somersaults in mid-air, among other marvellous feats.
This was followed by a Chinese Lion Dance by the students from the Muddenahalli and Gulbarga campuses. Delighting the audience, these students narrated a story through their dance and their upbeat performance was a joy to witness.
The students of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva High School returned to display floor gymnastics, displaying coordinated formations and daredevil feats using human obstacles.
The girls of Sri Sathya Sai Vaniniketanam campus at Gadag then took centre stage to present an energetic dance to the sounds of Dollu or drums. Their mesmerising dance moves in intricate formations indeed showcased the great talent of these young students from Gadag campus.
The students of the Sri Sathya Sai Vidyaniketanam campus, Gulbarga then came together to present a drill depicting the national symbols of the country. The boys beautifully performed a series of formations and drills representing symbols such as the flag, anthem, national bird, national game and national goal, among others.
The students of Sri Sathya Sai Divyaniketanam, Jayapura were next to display their skills. These students performed various feats on skates, beginning with aesthetically beautiful formations and graduating to daredevil feats such as skating through rings of fire and tubelights.
Next, were the Ashwa Kumaras who undertook the presentation of horse show-jumping. Each of the three students gracefully performed various jumping exercises with their horses exhibiting grace and grit.
The girl students from the Sri Sathya Sai Prashantiniketanam and Centre for Human Excellence at Nallakadirenahalli then performed a mesmerising dance depicting the Shiva Shakti Tandavam or cosmic dance.
The final event of the morning was a display of daredevilry on motorbikes by the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Pre-University College. Known as the Sathya Veeras, this team of fearless riders performed a number of splendid and grand stunts while riding at breakneck speeds.
The grand finale of this morning’s performance was truly a treat for the senses, as all the students came together to offer their gratitude to their beloved Mother Sai. As the students from various campuses came forth to take their positions, all differences and different identities merged into one, as they all eagerly sought to hear the most treasured words from Bhagawan – “I am happy”.
After spending some time with all the participating students, Bhagawan received Mangala Arati and was escorted back to His residence by a procession of motorbikes. Thus, ended a most divine morning marking the beginning of a most wonderful Annual Sports and Cultural Meet 2019.