The Holy Christmas celebrations began at 10 am in the morning with Swami arriving at the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Hall amidst soulful Bhajans being sung by the one and all present therein. The hall was dazzling with Christmas wreaths, lights and other glittering decorations. A huge Christmas tree also adorned the hall. As Bhagawan glided around the hall blessing the devotees, the students rendered several melodious Christmas carols and songs, filling everyone with the joyous spirit of Christmas, of loving and giving and forgiving. Once Bhagawan was seated on His throne, the proceedings for the morning began with the chanting/recitation of the Lord’s prayer, also called ‘Our Father’, a very venerated Christian prayer that appears in the New Testament. The first few verses of this prayer sing the glory of God while the last four verses tell how one should conduct oneself.
The first programme was a choir recital by the dedicated band of Singapore devotees. A total of 37 members of the ‘Singapore Gang’, as Swami lovingly calls them, offered an assortment of Christmas devotional numbers at the lotus feet of their beloved Lord. Excitement ran high as they began singing – Jingle bells… Jingle bells… Jingle all the way… and to the delight of everyone, Santa Claus rode in on his sleigh, with his bag full of goodies, throwing chocolates and candies all around. The Singapore devotees left everyone with full of joy and happiness as they ended their performance on a high note.
The next programme was a book launch of the fifth volume of the series, Love Beyond Boundaries – A Divine travelogue with Sathya Sai. The book chronicles Bhagawan’s visits to fifteen countries From June to November 2017 and is authored by Ms Bhuvana Santhanam.
This was followed by a talk by Mrs Constanze Stepski, a long-standing devotee of Swami from Germany. A practicing psychotherapist, Mrs Stepski has been blessed to host Swami each time He visits Germany. She started her speech by explaining the spirit of Christmas. She also reminded every one of Jesus’s teaching – ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ and explained that it is possible to act in this way only if we realize that we are all one; that we are all from the same Divine Principle. Narrating a couple of her experiences, she shared how the Lord made her realize that we are all the children of God. She then ended her talk humbly urging the audience to share this joy with everyone so that the whole world can be happy.
The next speaker for the morning was Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva group of Institutions. Narrating the story of St Nicholas or the original Santa Claus, he highlighted that the true essence of Santa is in giving selflessly. He then went on to narrate a short conversation with Swami that had taken place in Anandam that morning. Swami had asked them what the message of Christ was and He Himself had answered in two sentences- First, “My Father and I are one.” Secondly, “All are one my dear son, be alike to everyone.”
Bhagawan’s nectarine Divine discourse followed next. The morning programme then came to a close with the offering of Mangala Arati to Bhagawan.
The evening session commenced at 6 p.m with Bhagawan arriving at the Premamrutham amidst soulful Bhajans. Once He was seated, the programme commenced with a presentation by the ‘Sai Love and Joy’ International Choir Group, which consisted of musicians from 10 countries. The group offered a bouquet of eight melodious songs to Bhagawan. The songs were interspersed with performers sharing some of their thoughts, experiences with Swami and their expressions of gratitude. The choir was led by Ms Yani Miles, a self-taught musician and vocal coach from Australia. The choir was also supported by 13 students from the Institute’s Brass Band, playing various wind instruments. With each song that the group offered, the audience was left longing for more.
After the scintillating performance, Bhagawan blessed all the artists profusely. The joyous Christmas evening then came to a close with the offering of the Mangala Arati.