Onam 2011

Onam, the prime Kerala festival that marks the homecoming of legendary king of yore, Emperor Mahabali was celebrated in Prasanthi with much devotional fervour attended by a miniscule of Kerala along with devotees from other parts of the world.

With the state of Kerala celebrating its most colourful festival Onam, with gaiety and fervour commemorating mythical past, peace and equanimity as practised by its erstwhile Emperor Mahabali, a miniscule of Kerala camping in Prasanthi celebrated the festivity commemorating the golden past of Onam in the immediate Divine presence.

Legend has it that Kerala was once ruled by the ‘Asura’ king Mahabali, under whose reign everyone were happy and lived in an Utopia where falsehood and deception were unknown. The ‘Devas’, however, grew jealous of the popular king and had him banished down to the netherworld by Lord Vishnu, who incarnated as Vamana, the dwarf, for the purpose. Before going down, Mahabali secured a boon from Vishnu that he would visit his subjects on ‘Thiruvonam’ day every year.

Sept 6, 2011

Hrudaya Sangamam – a unique get-together of post operative patients under Sai Rehabilitaion Programme

This evening, marking Onam celebrations 2011, there was a programme commemorating the inception Sai Rehabilitation Programme for medical care. ,

The Sai Rehabilitation Project, a noble scheme that takes care of post operative patients from the twin Super Speciality Hospitals in Prasanthigram and Whitefield, is entering in its third year of inception with the advent of Onam 2011. The project that began with Bhagawan’s explicit blessings in 2008 has been an epochal one, touching many lives, serving thousands upon thousands in the past three years in the field of medicare.

Under the project, a first post operative check up of patients is be done after 15 days that is followed by two more checkups in the next three month gap. A get-together, aptly named ‘Hrudaya Sangamam’ follows sharing the joy and awareness of entire ‘family’ of benefitted patients. Last year Prasanthi had witnessed the first ever Hrudaya Sanghamam in the immediate Divine Presence, when a sizeable number of ‘patients’, including many of muslim origin, had come from selective districts of Kerala, during the holy month of Ramadan, celebrating the final festive day in His immediate Divine Presence.

The programme commenced with the State President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Prof. Mukundan giving an introductory talk briefing the unique programme.

Two speakers followed, beneficiaries of the unique medical service, Ms. Zeenath Ashraf from Kondodi, Malappuram District and Mr. Chandran from Kozhikode.

Invoking the Divine in traditional Islamic style, Ms. Zeenath spoke about the miraculous, all conquering touch of Bhagawan, that she, as a distressed mother experienced outside the gates of Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital, Whitefield, under the scorching sun. With tears of gratitude for the yeomen service being rendered by the hospital, Ms. Zeenath called the hospital one of its kind in the entire world. The Malabari muslim woman concluded saying that Bhagawan’s presence is being felt in her family throughout.

Mr. Chandran, an atheist who often compared Bhagawan with petty magicians expressed gratitude saying His life has been touched and adopted by Swami. Bhagawan’s hospital is unique, concluded the grateful speaker.

Dr. Anand Mohan, the State co-ordinator for the Rehabilitation Programme who spoke next, narrated the two malayalam speeches preceded in short before divulging in to some essential details about the programme. He also had a word of appreciation for the counseling departments at both the hospitals that assist the project immensely. Ninety-five percentage of total patients operated have been covered by the project, said Dr. Anand Mohan concluding his speech with grateful thanks at His Divine Lotus Feet.

Bhajans continued and Arathi was offered at 1800 hrs. Prasadam was distributed to the entire audience.

Sept 7, 2011

Sampradaya Bhajans by Vinaya Chandra Menon

Bhajans that has been an integral part of every day Prasanthi sessions took a slight detour today presenting an innovative style of bhajan singing known as ‘Sampradaya Bhajans’ as the ongoing Onam celebrations 2011 entered in its second day here in Prasanthi Nilayam this evening.

The programme for the evening was Sampradaya Bhajans by Sri Vinaya Chandra Menon. Sampradaya Bhajan is a traditional bhajan singing, more popular in South India, a tradition, as the name suggests, is handed down by one’s ancestors and is considered to be the forerunner of modern day Carnatic music concerts, as it has a harmonious blending of the divine, art and music elements.

Beginning with invocation of the prime deities, with his rich and melodious voice echoing the Sai Kulwant Hall, Sri Menon invoked next The Supreme Lord Presiding Over the session, Beloved Bhagawan, with a ‘dhyana sloka’ Sada Sadswaroopam Sadgurum Sainatham…before commencing the programme with the song Jaya Jaya Sai Namo…Jaya Jaya Jagadisha Namo…

Adjusting the tune within the fabric of Carnatic rules, almost following a medley pattern, the versatile singer sung with elan another 12 compositions, regaling Prasanthi to greater devotional heights, while remaining himself completely engrossed in singing. His mixture of songs included vernacular songs in Malayalam and Tamil and some of Prasanthi’s Own bhajans, namely, Vande Uma Nandanam…, Amba Mandahasa Vadhani…, Subramaniam Subramaniam etc…

Sri Vinaya Chandra Menon is a trained artiste in this mode of singing, trained under the expertise of various Bhagavatars, and has been performing this particular form of bhajan in various temples, namely Tirupathi and Shabari Mala etc…Sri Menon was accompanied by Natesan, Gururaj Murthy, Rajesh Menon, Hari Menon and Parvathi Menon in vocal, Ramakrisnna in Harmonium, Swaminathan in Mridangam and Shankar Vinayak in Dolki.

At the end of the 50 mts. session, the artistes and accompanists were felicitated with clothes. Bhajans by students continued for the next ten minutes before Mangala Arathi at 1800 hrs. Blessed laddu prasadam was distributed for the entire audience.

This evening as usual Vedam and Bhajans continued and Mangala Arathi was offered at 1800 hrs.

Sept 8, 2011

Musical Offering by Child Prodigy S. Mahadevan

This evening, on the eve of Thiruvonam, there was a musical offering by Child Prodigy S. Mahadevan, a 12 year old from Kerala, who was fortunate to perform in many stages across the India. Beginning with the invocatory song Ekadantam Bhaje, the little artiste went on singing for the next 45 minutes, presenting six carnatic pieces.

Some of the other compositions rendered were Paripalayamam…, Sri Sathya Narayanam…, Peetambharam… etc. all sung with interludes of aalaaps presented with aplombl. The blooming artiste did excel bursting into lengthy aalaaps as interludes, in his tender voice, with great dexterity infusing life into the session.

The 45 minute session was followed by another rendering, a solo, by the familar artiste during many an Onam celebration over the decade, Music Director from Kerala Sri TS Radhakrishnan.

The artistes were accompanied by Ananda Padmanabhan in violin, Uduppi Sri Krishna in Mridangam, Shankar Vinayakam in Harmonium, Sahayak on Tabla etc.

Bhajans continued for the next ten minutes that ended with Subramaniam…Subramaniam in Bhagawan’s Own Golden Voice.

Artistes were felicitated with clothes and prasadam was distributed to the entire assemblage before Mangala Arathi offering at 1800 hrs.

Sept 9, Thiruvonam

The evening programme commenced with Veda chanting by Balvikas children from the state at 1700 hrs. after the regular stint of Vedam. Prof. Mukundan, President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisatons, Kerala introduced the evening briefing about the scaled up activities in the state. He introduced the distinguished speaker for the evening, Sri K. Jayakumar, IAS, who is currently serving as Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala.

In an illuminating and inspiring speech, Jayakumar, an accomplished poet by himself, burst into a spell of poetic imagination, ruminating over the current phase of physical absence of Bhagawan. Talking about the futility of grieving, the speaker conceded that emotional frame of our heart does miss the Beloved form. He compared his mind of the day with that of a clouded sun, while thinking of Bhagawan physical passing over.

Defining Bhagawan as Eternal Truth personified, running into infinity, Sri Jayakumar said, Bhagawan showed what could be possible with a human birth by following His own dictum, My Life is My Message. By looking into His actions we should be able to understand what and how we can reciprocate for all that Bhagawan has bestowed upon us, most selflessly; we need to focus on two things, that Bhagawan has left on us to complete and these are: Purification of Heart and Love All Serve All. The speaker spoke with confidence calling Prasanthi Nilayam to become a Worldwide Revolution of Love. He exhorted the gathering on the importance of being united while pursuing most selflessly rendering greater service to humanity to bring the meaning of “Samastha Lokaaha…” in action.

Annual winners of Essay Writing Competition held at college and school level were felicitated next with Sri Sathya Sai Gold Medal. All India President of SSSSO, Sri V Srinivasan gave away the medals to Ms. Manju Krishna and Thara Elizebath (was not present).

Sweet immortal stories of enchanting Lord Krishna took precedence at the final phase of Onam 2011 celebrations as students from Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar, Aluva along with Balvikas children from the state presented a colourful dance drama entitled ‘Krishna Kripa Sagaram’. The drama was based on the stories of Krishna as recounted by Bhagawan in Summer Showers in Brindavan 1978.

The drama entwined with colourful episodes of Little Krishna stories had interludes of melodious songs adding flavour to the programme. Some of the episodes were, Krishna’s inimitable style of teaching Sandeepani His true form, how the fruit vendor lady at Brindavan was blessed by Lil Krishna abundantly, when a handful of rice grains turned into glittering diamonds, the water pot story, where Krishna initially refuses to ‘put the burden’ on to the woman who requested the Little One to help her, but later volunteered Himself to carry the burden, Radharani’s travail to enter into Brindavan as Krishna forbidden any woman to enter into, Krishna’s gurudakshina to Sandeepani etc.

The drama ended with a group song of prayer to Bhagawan. All the children participants were felicitated with clothes and prasadam was distributed to the entire gathering. Bhajans continued for sometime and Mangala Arathi was offered at 1900 hrs.

Earlier, the auspicious morning dawned wearing a Kerala garb, with many from the state, coming out in the early hours participating in the early morning schedules of the Ashram. Men and women came out in typcial Kerala costume and with them, many others, belonging to other states also took a cue from the state, joined wearing the traditional Kerala costume and what one could hear was ‘Happy Onam’ Greetings.

Mandir had aesthetic decorations in place, with plantain leaves, coconut leaves along with colourful parasols adoring the hall bringing in an added flavour.

In the morning, bhajan troup from the state rendered soul-filling bhajans, presenting some new compositions as well.