December 24, 2010 – Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam

Prashanti Nilayam on December 24 presented a very pretty sight! There were lights everywhere and a lot of merriment too. Even Rip Van Winkle would know that it is Christmas time! The lawns of the North Indian Canteen area had sleds, reindeer, Santa and the Christmas tree made of lights. The Nativity scene had been depicted at least in three different places and all have been well lit. Serial lights hanged off trees and in some places, the running lights were put in such a manner that they resembled icicles dropping off from the buildings!

There were blue lights hanging all around the Sai Kulwant Hall. At its Northern end was a huge statue of Jesus Christ and the decoration there constituted entirely by varieties of exotic fruits. A heavenly aroma pervaded the entire atmosphere. The Mandir had elegant hangings and the guiding Star hanged high above all. The angels above the stage seemed to proclaim, “All are One!” This is part of the famous message, “All are one, My Dear Son, Be Alike to Everyone!” Swami’s residence too had been recreated into a Christmas abode and the surroundings seemed to exude so much merriment.

Swami too seemed eager to witness the programme scheduled. The nights in the recent past were getting very cold and just the previous day, as He asked for the aarthi, Swami had said, “I should not delay. It is getting very cold for the devotees!” So, it was not so much a surprise when Swami arrived early, by 6 p.m. (Who are we to confine the Lord to time? When we say early, it only means relative to the past few days! The Lord always arrives at the Perfect time - never early, never late!) Swami got into the car and even as He moved around for the rounds, He tossed vibhuti packets for a fortunate few. Completing the rounds, Swami arrived on the stage. He tossed a few more vibhuti packets to the overseas organisers including Mr. John Behner and one to a student as well. Then He sat listening to the bhajans that were on.

The tempo and clapping for the bhajans increased with His mere arrival. Swami looked at the hundreds of overseas devotees seated in the front and enquired about the programme they were about to put up. Dressed up in white, over 750 choristers, 216 gents and 556 ladies, with over fifty musicians among them, had occupied the centre-block of the Mandir well in advance. Swami looked at one of the men in front and asked, “Where is your mike?” He did not understand and thought that Swami was asking him to play the guitar! He started to play for the bhajans and Swami only smiled. He always lovingly smiles when we do not hear Him and then proceeds to gently correct us. He asked for the singing to begin. When requested, He agreed to turn around and light a special candle. Applause filled the hall as the candle was lit.

The Choir Conductor Sylvia Alden moved up on stage and presented Swami with the programme schedule. Swami interacted with her for a while and then she moved down to start the choir with a flourish of her hands. After three Aumkarams, they sang the Gananaam Twa mantra and then started the carol singing. It was a beautiful experience listening to the harmony of Unity! Most of the songs were slow moving ones - slow and moving! The popular numbers, Jingle Bell Rock and Silent Night too were sung. As the singing went on, Swami seemed to be looking up at the decorations and the people. He flashed many smiles to the various instrumentalists. The evening before Christ was born turned out to be an evening with the Father!

A radiance seemed to arise from His countenance and it enveloped all the choristers. There were claps after each piece and every song began with a soulful melody from the violins. The setting was so perfect that any child born in such circumstances would indeed be the child of God! After about 12 songs, Swami asked for the priest and even as he came, Swami asked for the aarthi. Aarthi was taken and Swami’s eyes were on the aarthi plate being held by the overseas devotees. When they placed it down, Swami indicated to move the flaming cupolas to another pace, away from all the people. Then, He smiled and blessed them. One of them indicated to Swami his desire of touching His feet and Swami graciously agreed.

Then came the bumper blessings. Swami moved down the stage and among the singers. He collected letters and spoke to many of them. He then arrived at the centre and everyone made a huge semicircular arc. The photos were taken and Swami moved up the stage. Then, blessing all, Swami moved into the car and towards Yajur Mandir.

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