April 14, 2009 – Tamil New Year and Vishu Celebrations
The traditional people of Kerala celebrate Vishu with a lot of joy. And Prasanthi Nilayam is a place where every occasion becomes a reason to celebrate for one is in the presence of the Lord. One very interesting custom of Vishu is Vishukani or Kani Kanal (first sight). Under this tradition, there is a prescribed list of items that people see first thing on a Vishu morning. Thus, the Vishukani has over the years become a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles like raw rice, fresh linen, golden cucumber, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, the yellow flowers 'konna' (cassia fistula), and a holy text and coins, in a bell metal vessel called 'uruli'. A lighted bell metal lamp called nilavilakku is also placed alongside. And this was precisely the arrangement that greeted one and all as it adorned the centre of the Sai Kulwant Hall. It also happened to be the day of the Tamil New Year.
The actual Kani Kanal or first auspicious sight occurred in the evening at 5:15 p.m., as the lovely Lord arrived gently from the Yajur Mandir. Swami took a complete round of the hall and thousands slaked the thirst of their eyes as they seemed to drink in His beautiful form. The ritual arrangement of the articles had now been shifted onto the stage. Swami arrived on stage and looked admiringly at the wonderful arrangement of the various items for quite some time. Then, He sat listening to the Veda chanting for a few minutes, after which He moved into the interview room. Ten minutes later, Swami was out again, and this time He asked for the programme to begin as soon as He reached the centrestage. On this day, He was indeed seated at the centre of the stage unlike many other occasions when He is towards a side. The drama was entitled, "Sai Yuva Shakthi" and it began at about 5:30 p.m. A few characters of the drama moved onto the stage and made offerings to Swami. The Lord seemed to be fascinated by one "stick" of flowers which He kept in His hands throughout the next 45 minutes or so!
The drama was quite 'radical' in terms of the way the theme was depicted. The protagonist, Bharat, realizes that he needs power and influence to change the way things are going on in his region. So, he decides to participate in the forthcoming elections and hopes to win. Backed by his nobility and the people who have benefited from his service activities, he indeed wins the elections. Then, comes the acid test, when as an MLA he has to keep up his promises. Bharat spares no efforts and dives headlong into serving his people. First, he introduces the Sathya Sai Educare concept in all the corporation schools. When we see such things in dramas, we think that it’s nice to fantasize or imagine these dramatically positive changes. But the fact is that Sathya Sai Educare has indeed been introduced in Chennai Corporation schools today, and it was announced by the Mayor of Chennai with gratitude. That audio clip was played in Sai Kulwant Hall for all to hear.
Back to the drama, Bharat calls the medical fraternity and inspires them with the example of the Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospitals. When everyone sighs that those things are possible only for Swami, he comes up with an innovative idea. He requests every hospital to allot just one free bed for a deserving poor patient, and ensure that patient too receives the same quality of treatment. That seems like a practical solution and when all hospitals incorporate that concept, there is a virtual mini free hospital! Again, this has already been incorporated in Chennai city, Prof. Rangabhashyam, Prof. Sunder and Prof. E. Prabhu, the three giants in the medical fraternity, being responsible for it. Very intelligently directed, the drama had these doctors themselves as a part of the drama and they acted out their real life roles on stage too!
[The Indian Association of Surgical Gastroenterology awarded the 'Living Legend' award to Prof N. Rangabashyam for setting up the Department of Surgical Gastroenterology at Chennai Government General Hospital in 1973. He was instrumental in bringing the surgical gastroenterology super specialty course into India in 1985 and for training surgeons in advanced surgery like liver resection, pancreatic surgery, colo-rectal surgery and transplant. Prof. Sunder specializes in heart transplants and is working at the Apollo hospitals. Prof. E. Prabhu specializes in Nuclear medicine.
In fact, H2H had a cover story on this Virtual Hospital Project called the Sri Sathya Sai Healthcare Project in January 2009]
The drama surged ahead to show how a glorious society gets built with just one strong-willed and good-character person being in a position of power. It concluded with Bharat being honoured and heard by all in the Parliament, the seat of power in India.
Traditionally, Swami has repeatedly exhorted everyone to keep away from politics. Seeing the drama, it seemed that everything has its exceptions. More than anything else, what is most important for the Lord is the motive behind the action rather than the action itself. There are reasons which we may not be able to fully understand and appreciate as to why Swami discourages entry into politics. At the same time, we may not equally understand why Swami inspired this group of youngsters to put up such a drama. But we can definitely appreciate their motives and Swami's will, for nothing can ever happen unless He wills! As the drama concluded with a final song, Swami smiled in joy and said that He would move down for a group picture. And what a huge group it was! It spanned the entire breadth of the marble block and was a wonderful sight. Swami told the photographers to take one half of the group each from either sides. That being done, Swami said that He was very happy and slowly moved back to the stage. Swami, for a few moments, was all alone on the stage and it was such a beautiful sight - Swami, in front of the beautiful decorations! A true Vishukani indeed! Next, Prasadam distribution ensued as the students sang bhajans. Ten minutes later, Swami received aarthi and retired for the day.
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