Sports are an integral part of any educational institution but when it comes to Sri Sathya Sai Institutions, the Sports and Cultural Meet marks the blossoming of students’ love for Swami and also provides ample space and time to Swami to bless them without bounds. It is a rare event that has been a favourite with Swami Himself as He personally takes notice of the details involved in the preparation of the activities.
This year’s event was nothing short of the excitement and joy that everybody expected. On the morning of January 15, clad in a maroon colour, Swami arrived in the Sri Sathya Sai Samagamam Stadium—the sun was shining brilliantly and the mountains were witnessing another glorious chapter added to Sai’s Glory as they stood meditatively around the stadium.
Swami was escorted in a swan-chariot to the stage by various groups, but in the front of them all were the Ashwa Kumaris—the girl students riding the horses—a group that was formed for the very first time and prepared themselves for the event in a time period of just three weeks. They were followed by the Vedam group, dancing contingents including Nandi Polu and Bhangra, and Brass Band group.
Swami ascended the podium to everybody’s delight and with the lamp lighting ceremony declared the Sports and Cultural Meet open. The Chief Guest on the occasion, Sri Pramod Madhawaraj, Honorable Minister of Fisheries, Sports and Youth Affairs, Government of Karnataka was also present on the stage. Among other dignitaries, Dr. A. B. Subbiyah (former Hockey player and Olympian) and Hemendra Singh (Hockey Coach, Indian Mens’ Team) were also present.
The proceedings started with the unfurling of institute’s flag by the Chief Guest, Sri Pramod Madhawaraj.
The very first show of the morning was the hot air balloon, which carried the Aakash Veeras—the students of PU College, Muddenahalli Campus, who descended from the height of 120 feet, showing resilience to the movement of air and balloon and surrendering totally to God. Swami blessed all the students with a trophy and a group photograph and words of encouragement.
Next was the march of the various institutes marking the team spirit and hard work that ensures unity of every participant—an event very dear to Swami, as He says that marching is discipline in action. All the campuses showed their synchronizations as they walk past the dias saluting their beloved Swami. The march included a contingent of the Alumni showing consolidarity of senior brothers with the current students and also celebrating the Each One Educate One, ensuring the education of 900 children till now.
This was followed by the oath taking ceremony led by Brother Gaurav where all the participants swore that they will participate in fair play for the glory of their institutions, country and ultimately Swami Himself.
Swami lighted the torch for the Meet which was taken to the chosen vehicle of the year, Sai Mayuri—the peacock, flying to lighting the torch at the top of the mountain. This was followed by pigeon releasing ceremony by Swami.
The Chief Guest of the morning then addressed the audience and exhorted the efforts of the institutions and the value-based system they are imparting to the students. He first spoke in the Kannada language and finished his speech in English by saying that the students are getting both education and spirituality, which will ensure their success.
This was followed by the Band Retreat of both Girls’ and Boys’ groups aptly named as Sai’s Symphonies and Sai’s Angels.
Then came the students of the High School, Muddenahalli Campus showing their skills in gymnastics. They performed somersaults, ring of fire, tandem jumping over a bar of fire, jumping over a vehicle as the barrier, and were lauded by one and all.
Sri Sathya Sai Vidyaniketanam, Jayapura Campus boys were next with their flips and show on the trampolines. They performed Yogasanas epitomizing flexibility, tandem jumping on the same trampoline, continuous back-flips, L-drops from the ladder and somersaults from the ladder.
Sri Sathya Sai Sriniketanam, Jayapura Campus girls were next to perform the ‘Fan Dance’ clad in a rich array of vibrant and colourful dresses. They performed various formations and synchronizations.
Next was a feature that has been the highlight of every Sports Meet in Sai Institutions—the Chinese Lion Dance. This dance, performed by the students of the Muddenahalli Campus, blends martial arts, music, and tradition into a spectacular display of strength, balance and focus. Swami blessed the boys profusely as He posed with them for a photograph.
Then came the Celestial Rhythms—gymnastic feats performed on a grid by ropes that is held at a height of sixty feet in the air. The students of Sri Sathya Sai Shardaniketanam, Mandya Campus performed this daredevilry which included zig-zag formation, diamond, upside-down, and heart-shaped formations and also various types of stretches. At the end, they made the letters SAI and digits 92, and the Swastika symbol before saluting Swami in unison to conclude their presentation. Swami blessed all of them with a trophy and a group photo.
The girl students of 6th, 7th and 8th grade from the Sri Sathya Sai Prashanti Bala Mandir, Chikkaballapur Campus then performed the Sambalpuri Dance. It is a popular dance form from the state of Orissa and is considered only second in rank to the nationally recognized classical dance form—Orissi.
Next were the boys from the Sri Sathya Sai Divyaniketanam, Jayapura Campus who performed martial art stunts in the form of Kung-Fu. The presentation included various poses and also stunts and kicks to break tiles. Breaking of the granite placed on the stomach of a student with a sledgehammer, and also riding a motorcycle over the abdomen of three students lying on the ground.
Sri Sathya Sai Vidyaniketanam, Gulbarga Campus was the next one is presenting the Robo Dance with moves showing strength, flexibility, and ultimately formations which read UHE, celebrating the upcoming University in Human Excellence, which Swami has promised to open soon. This was followed by the formation of digits 93, marketing the 93rd Birthday of Swami’s Avatar and also a heart-shape within the shape of a pentagon, which represents the shape of the building of the campus.
Boys from the Muddenahalli Campus were up next to perform the Ladder Dance, which involved riding a ladder without any help and skipping the ladder over a series of obstacles.
This was followed by the Jai Ho Dance performed by the SSS Vidya Kendra, Muddenahalli High School boys clad in Indian flag’s colors and holding the umbrellas. They performed various formations and ultimately ending in the shape of a heart and SAI MAA, declaring that are under the umbrella of their Divine Mother’s grace.
The students from the Sri Sathya Sai Shardaniketanam, Mandya Campus were next performing the Cube’s Formations on the poles showing various feats of gymnastics and Yoga poses. They concluded their presentation with a formation of the words V, the heart (Representing love), and U.
The girl students of the Sri Sathya Sai Vaniniketanam, Gadag Campus were next to perform the Cheraw Dance Form North-Eastern States of India. The dance is performed keeping the focus on the time and musical beats produced by the bamboo staffs.
Ashwa Kumaras, the boys from the Muddenahalli Campus, performed next, as they showed their equestrian jumping skills by riding the horses over a stack of hay, tri-colour planks, parallel bars, chairs and red-brick wall, which went up to four feet height. Swami blessed them with a trophy and a group photo.
Next was a presentation of regional fame—the students of Sri Sathya Sai Vidyaniketanam, Gulbarga Campus performed the Mallakhamba feats. This involves a wrestling pole, which is believed to be passed on by Lord Hanumana to a wrestler named as Krishna Devraya’s time. The students performed various yogic poses on the pole, group formations defying gravity and during intricate individual poses.
Next was a Sufi Dance performed by the girl students of the Sri Sathya Sai Prashantiniketanam, Nallakadirenhalli Campus—the famous Dervish dance performed during the Samma ceremony.
The boys from the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva High School, Muddenahalli Campus performed next as they showed their skills of rope walking. They performed various feats including playing Cricket on the rope and also walking backwards while retracing their steps.
Next was a dance performance by the Sri Sathya Sai Sriniketanam, Jayapura Campus girls—the Karaga Dance, which is a jubilant harvest dance form from the Dakshina (South) Kannada region.
Next were the daring students of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva High School, Muddenahalli Campus who performed Aerial Hoops over rings that were dangling in the air from crane. They performed various Yoga poses with great artistry. Swami called them on stage and blessed them with a trophy and a group photo.
This was followed by a multi-style dance presentation by the students of Sri Sathya Sai Prashanti Balamandir, Chikaballapur Campus. The girls performed four styles of dance including Bharatnatyam, Orissi, Manipuri, and Garbha.
Next was the most sensational item of the day—the Trailblazers and the Velocity Extremers. The students of the Muddenahalli Campus, called as Sathya Veeras, performed stunts and formations on the motorbikes. It felt like one was watching the Indian Republic Day Parade where the military forces displayed their might with these feats. True to His motherly nature, Swami looked all concerned and didn’t take His eyes off the boys as they performed those dangerous and stupendous stunts having God as their only guardian. Swami blessed the group with a trophy.
Then, came the culminating event of all the participants ushering a sense of joy and achievement as they invited Swami amidst themselves on the ground by placing His throne and welcoming Him with dance and songs. As Swami walked down the dias, blessing everybody, the children, unable to control their joy and love for their Divine Mother, flanked Swami from all sides. The overflow of their love towards Swami was visible as the Seva Dal members found it hard to control their zeal. The children were visibly hungry for the love of their Mother.
As Swami sat in His car waving to everyone while leaving the stadium, Mangala Arati was offered to Him.