The festival of Dussehra, dedicated to the Mother Goddess, is one of the most celebrated and festive occasions of the year throughout India. Every year, the ten days of rituals and rites in homage to the Divine Mother in Her various manifestations, fill the atmosphere of Sathya Sai Grama with powerful vibrations. Each morning, Yajnas and Homas are performed to propitiate the Mother Goddess and thereafter, Arati is offered in traditional Bengali style to the beautiful images of Mother Durga and other deities Lord Ganesha, Lord Kartikeya, Mother Lakshmi and Mother Saraswati, which are specially made and brought from West Bengal. This year too, devotees gathered from all over India and the world, to participate in this most magnificent event and offer their love and gratitude to their Divine Mother Sai.
The first day is dedicated to the Mother in her manifestation as Shailaputri, or ‘daughter of the mountains’ and the morning’s proceedings saw the performance of the Sahasra Modaka Ganapati Homa, Navagraha Homa and Shani Shanti Homa.
As the Homas and Pujas were underway, Swami arrived into the specially erected Pandal where the Yajnas will be held for the duration of the Celebrations. Welcomed by the regal sounds of Nadaswaram and Dhak drums, Swami proceeded straight to the Yagashala to see the Havan Kunda or sacred fire and the beautiful Rangoli of Lord Ganesha, prepared by the Ritwiks. As Bhajans were in progress, Swami then ascended His throne and the final part of the Homa was performed.
Thereafter, an explanation of the Yajnas that had been performed was provided in Kannada and English. Through worshipping Lord Ganapati and earning His grace, it becomes possible to rein in sensory desires. Since He is also the symbol of attainment, worshipping Maha Ganapati allows each person to attain perfection in their lives and therefore, it is customary to first offer worship to Lord Ganesha who is the remover of obstacles. The Navagraha Homa offers worship to the nine planets and this Puja was performed for the sake of good health in both body and mind. The Homa to Shaneshwara or Saturn, who is a symbol of ignorance and inertia, was also performed in order to remove such qualities which lie within each individual.
After the rituals for these three Yajnas had been completed, Swami proceeded inside Hrudaya Mandir for the traditional offering of Arati to Mother Durga. Swami made His way to the back of the hall, where the traditional ‘Kullu’ or mini-idols of various deities had been installed and graciously stood in front of them as devotees from Bengal performed Paada Puja for their Lord. Swami lovingly blessed the idols and the devotees who had arranged the beautiful altar. After the Arati which was accompanied by the sounds of the Dhak drums and the Dhunuchi dance ritual, Mangala Arati was offered to Swami, concluding the morning’s proceedings.
Evening – Launch of ‘Institute of Human Values’, by the Sri Sathya Sai University for Human Excellence
The evening session commenced at around 4:30 p.m. Flanked by Her Excellency Governor of Uttarakhand, Srimati Baby Rani Maurya and Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka and Minister of Higher Education, Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, Swami entered the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Hall led by a grand procession of girls and boys chanting Vedam and both the Sai’s Angels and Sai’s Symphony brass bands. Also on the Dias were, Former Minister of Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Higher Education for Karnataka, Sri T B Jayachandra; Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust, Sri C Sreenivas and Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai University for Human Excellence, Sri B N Narasimha Murthy.
The evening’s programme was indeed a special occasion, for it marked the launch of the Institute of Human Values by the Sri Sathya Sai University for Human Excellence. The motto for the University, ‘Perfection in Action’, is the inspiration for the launch of this Institute of Human Values and is a platform offering systematic guidance to parents, pupils and professionals alike, in the endeavour and practice of human values through accessible online courses.
The evening’s programme began with the chanting of Sikshavalli by the boys and girls of the Sri Sathya Sai Pre-University Colleges in Muddenahalli and Nallakadirenahalli. This was followed by the ceremonial lighting of the lamp, after which the honourable Deputy Chief-Minister of Karnataka addressed the gathering. Thereafter, the inaugural launch video of the Institute of Human Values was played. Sri B N Narasimha Murthy then addressed the gathering and spoke about the need for and purpose of the Institute, saying that moral values cannot stand alone without a spiritual foundation. This was followed by the launch of the first four courses offered by the Institute: Indian Culture and Spirituality, Compassionate Healthcare, Mindful Teaching and Dynamic Parenting. Course books were brought on stage tonne released.
Thereafter, a short video was played on the Annapoorna Breakfast programme and Sai Sure multi nutrient supplement. A plaque commemorating the beginning of this programme in the state of Uttarakhand, was presented to the Honourable Governor. Sri C Sreenivas was the next speaker for the evening and he eloquently elucidated in Hindi, the initiatives being undertaken by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in serving women, children and the downtrodden.
Sri T B Jayachandra thereafter spoke about the importance of the Institute of Human Values and the Sri Sathya Sai University for Human Excellence. This was followed by an address by Her Excellency, the Honourable Governor of Uttarakhand, Smt. Baby Rani Maurya. She spoke about the need to educate girl children and praised Bhagawan’s vision and mission in this area. She prayed to Swami to expand His Institutions to include the State of Uttarakhand and expressed her support for the endeavour.
Swami then granted His Divine message and praised the humility of the Honourable Governor, saying that true education is that which endows one with humility. Swami explained that the solution to all the problems in the world is providing the right kind of education to every child in the world. He stressed the importance of the right kind of education which instills those qualities which make men into good human beings. Swami expressed His wish to spread and offer such kind of education, through the Institute, to all people all over the world and explained that these courses would be available to everyone and would also become accessible in various languages in different countries.
After a short break, the evening session continued with a cultural programme by the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institutions. Set against a most marvellous backdrop depicting a map of India, the students sang songs composed by many great saints and seers from all over the country, including Mirabai, Kabirdas, Basavanna, Tyagaraja, Shankaracharya and Namadeva. With brief introductions, lyrics and translations for each song being projected on the screens, the melodious renditions of these songs filled with deep truths of life imbued every heart with great joy, transforming the hall into a heaven on earth.
After the programme, Swami blessed the students with group photographs and along with the Honourable Governor and Sri T B Jayachandra, distributed gifts to all the participants.
Mangala Arati was then offered to Swami, after which He proceeded back to His residence for the evening.