The evening session of the joyous Christmas day began at around 5 P.M. when Bhagawan arrived at the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham auditorium. He was welcomed with the ceremonial Poorna Kumbam and Vedic chants by students, in the midst of soulful Bhajans.
Once Bhagawan ascended the dais, the programme began with a couple of talks that preceded His divine discourse.
The first speaker for the evening was Mrs Maria Buffa, a long-standing devotee of Swami from Italy. Ever since she had Swami’s Darshan at Prasanthi Nilayam, she has been actively taking part in all Sathya Sai Seva activities in Italy. She began her talk by describing how values and spiritual upbringing by her family helped her to stay strong during the hard times she faced in the course of her life. She then recounted how the mere Darshan of Swami transformed her life, of how Swami helped her to understand her own religion of Christianity and the message of Jesus. She concluded her talk thanking Swami for bringing her to Him, at Puttaparti and now to Muddenahalli; for never judging her and instead teaching and supporting her always, and finally praying that she remains in His service always.
The second speaker was Mr Ampilio Veleda, another long-standing devotee of Bhagawan who was responsible in setting up the western canteens at Prasanthi Nilayam, Brindavan and also now at Muddenahalli. Speaking on Christ’s teaching on forgiveness, Mr Ampilio Veleda shared his thoughts on the same theme. Stating that true Christianity was to practise the teachings and message of Jesus, he also shared how after so many years of knowing Swami, he has now understood the oneness of Christ and Sathya Sai Baba and their teachings.
Both the talks were in Italian and were translated into English by Mr Salvatore Iozza.
This was followed by a book launch of the third volume of the series – Love Beyond Boundaries- a Divine travelogue with Sri Sathya Sai. It chronicles Bhagawan’s travels to various countries between June to October 2016, authored by Ms Bhuvana Santhanam and published by Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutha Prakashna.
Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions addressed the gathering next. He centered his talk on the last act of forgiveness by Christ before He left His body and the first vision He gave on resurrection. Stressing on the importance of faith, he also said that it is imperative for every devotee to develop faith and complete surrender to the Lord, and accept everything as Divine Will.
Bhagawan blessed everyone with His Divine Christmas message. Thereafter, Mangala Arati was offered to the Lord, and Prasadam was distributed.
After a short break, the evening’s programme resumed with a presentation by the ‘Sai Love and Joy’ International choir group. The performers were from various countries and together in harmony, they offered a bouquet of nine melodious songs to Bhagawan. The song themes ranged from the spirit of Sai Christmas to the strength of Swami’s love and the process of realising one’s true self. The songs were interspersed with several performers sharing their heartwarming experiences, anecdotes, thoughts and lessons from life and with Swami. The overall presentation captivated the audience keeping the spirit of Christmas joy and love high in each person.
The choir was led by Miss Yani Miles – a self-taught musician and vocal coach from Australia. They were accompanied by Mr Tim Budden from Australia on the electric guitar, Mr Michael Mrithya from Australia on the acoustic guitar, the multi-instrumentalist Mr Dimitris Lambrianos on the bass guitar, Mr Adam Amijhich from Croatia on the percussions, Mrs Karen Goh from Singapore on the keyboard and Mr Kabilan Pillay from Singapore on the Cajón.
After the scintillating performance, Bhagawan blessed all the performers with tokens of His love. Arati was offered to Bhagawan amidst much love and devotion of the holy Christmas Day.