A bright morning defying all weather forecasts of a cloudy day, was a relief to the volunteers and organizers who were all getting ready for the big day of the official inauguration of the Ashram in the evening. The whole place was buzzing with activities leading up to the evening ceremonies with everyone contributing their bit, while Swami allowed the guests to rest during the morning. After guiding the team about the evening programme and a few interviews, Swami had His lunch of assorted Indian and Argentinian delicacies.
The evening saw the arrival of the Indian Ambassador for Argentina along with representatives of various faiths, from Christianity to Islam, from Buddhism to Judaism, from other spiritual institutions like the Brahmakumaris, all had gathered to dedicate the Ashram for the welfare of humanity.
Devotees trickled in from 3 p.m. in the afternoon and made their way to the arena for the functions. Around 6 p.m., Swami descended to the hall and made His way to the main door where a golden ribbon awaited to be cut, marking the golden beginnings of the Ashram. The Indian Ambassdor to Argentina Sri Sanjiv Ranjan did the honours of cutting the ribbon along with the other guests, while Swami christened the Ashram as ‘Love and Peace’, by writing it on the board with chalk, calling these eternal values as the highest of all religions.
As the guests proceeded along with Swami to a make shift tent that was specially erected for this purpose, one could hear the strains of the soulful Spanish bhajans wafting through the gentle evening breeze. The path flanked by devotees with tears of joy waiving to Swami was elevating, adding to it was the serene spiritual evening that had softly descended on the Ashram that now was to be the Centre for love and peace for all of Argentina and beyond!
After lighting of the candles by the entourage and guests, Swami took His seat on the Dias and the programme commenced with Vedic invocations of Purushasuktam and Shanti Mantras by the devotees of Latin America. It was followed by a brief welcome address by Mrs Rosana inviting the various representatives of different faiths to bless the occasion. A multi faith, multi religious blessing ceremony set the tone for the evening, as love and peace are values that belonged to all, and religions were only the paths to attain these eternal goals of humanity. It was indeed heartening to see the openness of the various representatives to the presence of Swami in the subtle as they offered their greeting and received blessing in return. Swami invited each one of them to visit the Ashram time and again, and conduct programmes that promoted harmony and unity of all mankind. An emotional video on the evolution of the Ashram was followed by a dance performance by the children of Sai Prema School that sent ripples of cheer all around the hall, as the tiny tots all dressed up in the Indian attire of sarees and dhotis, tapped to the tunes of the Bharatnatyam recital.
Another video portraying the service activities conducted by the youth of Latin America, primarily consisting of feeding the homeless and hungry, touched all hearts. This was followed by a talk by Mr Isaac Tigrett, congratulating all on this achievement that was blessed by divine representatives, seen and unseen. Mr C Sreenivas, spoke about the enormity of the moment that was the birth of a Centre, which was a moment of wonder, held much in its bosom like a grainy seed that contained the tree!
Swami invited the Indian Ambassdor to Argentina, Mr Ranjan to speak a few words, who gratefully recounted his days in Madrid when he was the authority who issued visas to India and thereby heard about Puttaparthi due to the high demand of the devotees. He emotionally referred to that Indian adage that everything happens when it has to happen, and said that though he heard about Baba several times before, this was his opportunity to come closer! The video on the Sai Global Federation of Foundations, a forum of unity, that now spans 27 countries and undertakes service projects relevant to those geographies, was shown thereafter followed by a short speech of Mr B N Narasimha Murthy who conveyed his best wishes to all the devotees who had been instrumental in making the Ashram a reality.
Swami declared the Ashram open to one and all, and elaborated that the end of all knowledge is love and end of all love is peace. “It is only the true knowledge of underlying oneness of all that can lead us to love all selflessly, and only when such selfless love is practised and experienced by all, can there be peace in the world.” Swami roared that while all faiths talked about one God, it’s to the singular credit of Indian wisdom that declared that though there is one God, He is called by different names, thereby paving the path for acceptance and harmony of all faiths. He went on to say that the one who understands this unity in diversity is truly a man of wisdom for the rest who perceive differences are ignorant. “Today the world needs love more than anything else, and it can be taught not by preaching but by practising. Love begets love.” He urged devotees to welcome one and all with open arms, and embrace all as brother and sisters in the Ashram.
The eventful evening ended with Arati and distribution of Prasadam. The indescribable expression of love on every face, as Swami walked around, talked, touched and blessed the devotees, left an indelible impression in the minds of all the guests who had not seen something like this before, and they thanked the organizers to have invited them to experience this amazing phenomenon!
Dinner cooked by the devotees was served to all, while Swami gave precious words of advise to the Foundation members over His dinner upstairs, thus ending a beautiful and memorable day!