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Christmas at Prasanthi Nilayam

 CAROLS ON CHRISTMAS EVEThe birth of Christ brings with it great joy and happiness to the whole world. And all celebrate it with all earnestness.
But when it comes to Christmas at Prasanthi Nilayam, Christmas gains an all new flavour. Christmas with Sai is among the best celebrated festivals at Prasanthi Nilayam. Coming a month after the Birthday Celebrations, Christmas is eagerly looked forward to. Heart to Heart brings to you a description of this great festival as it is generally celebrated in Prasanthi Nilayam.
The evening of 24th of December is the starting point of the Christmas celebrations. That evening, the overseas devotees conduct a carol programme in the presence of Bhagawan in the Sai Kulwant Hall. The songs in praise of the Lord and His Divine Son bring the warmth of Christmas to each and every heart.
Then comes the much anticipated morning of the 25th of December. Much before the cock crows, the devotees THE JOYOUS NAGARSANKEERTHAN assemble in the Sai Kulwant Hall. Following the regular Suprabhatham the overseas devotees join the special Nagar-Sankeertan singing Carols while holding candles in their hands. As they walk into the Hall humming 'Joy to the World' or 'Silent Night', it charges the entire atmosphere with a solemnity, which is one of the reasons that make Christmas at Prasanthi Nilayam so special. As all the students slowly light up their candles, the Hall is filled with the soft glow and warmth of the candle lights. It is quite an experience to be present there in the soft glow of the hundreds of candles flickering merrily to the soft humming  SAI KULWANTH ON THE CHISTMAS MORNINGof carols in the background.
Soon the ornate silver doors open on the first floor of the Prasanthi Mandir and the audience revel in silent joy. There is hushed excitement as people try to catch the first glimpse of the Lord dressed in a Divine white robe. Bhagawan walks slowly and stands right at the edge of the balcony blessing every body present with a beautiful smile and often raising His hands in blessing. He then walks around the balcony and stands at different places facing all the devotees in turn and sways gently to the tunes of the carols being hummed. Then the Aarthi is lit and all join in singing the Aarthi in unison. Bhagawan retires after this to His residence. AWAITING THE BALCONY DARSHAN
Later in the morning Bhagawan comes for the regular darshan at around 7:00 AM. After He finishes His darshan round, He sits on His chair kept on the stage. After taking His blessings the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School present a violin concert with several small children playing beautiful tunes on their stringed instruments.
This is followed by the Institute Brass Band presenting an instrumental orchestra. The lilting tunes played by the band lifts the spirits of those present there. The foot-tapping presentation by the Brass band is followed by the carol programme by the students of the Institute and the Higher Secondary School. The students sing several traditional carols as well as newly composed songs in the praise of their Lord. The carols end with the famous song "Dashing Through The Snow" during which a student dressed as the Santa Claus takes Bhagawan's blessings, goes around throwing chocolates to all.
 BLESSINGS FROM THE BALCONYThe morning festivities come to an end with prasadam distribution and Aarthi.
The 25th of December also happens to the anniversary of the Kingdom of Mother Sai, an alumni association of the students of the Anantapur Campus of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. The afternoon programme starts with the presentation of the service activities carried out by the organisation and talks by members of the organisation. This is followed by talks by some elderly devotees. The icing on the cake is Bhagawan's discourse, which follows the talks.  JOY TO THE WORLD
Over the years Bhagawan has given a lot of insight into the teachings of Christ. He has also spoken about the life of Christ and what Christ stood for. One memorable Christmas evening, during the course of His discourse, Bhagawan materialised a small Bible, which He said was compiled in Britain around 1530 A.D., containing all the information about Jesus gathered during the preceding centuries. The Russians condensed all this material in a small book which they preserved in a place on the Black Sea coast. Swami produced the little book by a circular wave of His hand and held it before the audience, He said: "This is the book. You can see the cross on the cover page. The book was designed to demonstrate the common features of all religions. What is contained in this book is not to be found even in the Bible. It contains an entirely new account of the life of Jesus." After the discourse Bhagawan  HIS BRASS BAND PLAYS ON CHRISTMASaccepts the Aarthi and retires.
But the Christmas celebrations are not over yet. The evening is the time for the Christmas pageant presented in the Poornachandra Auditorium. Bal-Vikas Students from overseas present the colourful drama much to the joy of Bhagawan and all the gathered devotees.
This beautiful presentation marks the end of the Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam and marks the beginning of the anticipation of the next Christmas to be celebrated here. Christmas leaves behind pleasant memories and that feeling of joy and happiness, which is only to be experienced. ENACTING HIS GLORY
What makes Christmas at Prasanthi Nilayam so special? People from all over the globe travel here to celebrate the birth of Christ, in the presence of His Father. We hear very often speakers mentioning that they prefer to celebrate Christmas with Bhagawan than in their own hometowns. It is like one really huge family gathering that celebrates Christmas at Prasanthi Nilayam and shares and thus multiplies its joy.


Volume 01: PDS / 08 Date : DEC 15 2003