Chinese New Year in Prasanthi Nilayam…

Every tradition that reaches the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan brings native values and rich cultural heritage, seeking ultimate Divine blessing. Chinese New Year 2012 that entered into its 15th year in Prasanthi Nilayam was not different as the Holy Abode witnessed a glittering function on the 28th January evening, attended by over 250 devotees, both ethnic and other language speaking, from three countries Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Chinese New Year 2012 began on the 23rd January and would last fifteen days. This New Year is identified as year of Dragon that symbolizes activity, great vitality, luck and prosperity.

The theme chosen for this year’s celebration was “Love and Gratitude”.

The programme commenced at 1700 hrs. with Lighting of Chinese Candle by Dr. VK Ravindran and Bro. Billy Fong, senior officials of SSSO from Zone 4, organizers of the event.

The first item was a traditional Chinese prayer participated by elderly women devotees from Malaysia in traditional Chinese prayer attire. Melodious prayer song of Kuan Yin calling out the Chinese Goddess of Mercy was played setting backdrop for the prayer.

Next to come was offerings of traditional Chinese items like mandarin oranges, ‘nian gou’ (a traditional Chinese cake), red dates and other delicacies etc. by children from Indonesia and Malaysia.

This was followed by a traditional Chinese prayer ceremony. A priest dressed in ancient Chinese costume offered pranams to Bhagawan in ancient Chinese poetic style.  The priest continued with expressing gratitude on behalf of the four categories of people namely the Government officials, the farmers, the workers and the business communities and prayed for continual blessings and prosperity for the common people.

The next item was a performance by the “Pa Shen” – the ancient Chinese immortals. These Immortals, eight in number, represent the transformation of man to God.   They represent the 8 Chinese values of discipline, detachment, compassion, love, non-violence, sacrifice, humility and gratitude. These eight immortals sang traditional Chinese New Year song on the significance of the holy occasion.

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Bro. Billy Fong, the Zonal 4 Coordinator for Chinese New Year in his welcome address elaborated on the importance of the value of Love and Gratitude to Parents which is the cornerstone of Chinese civilization as well as the core of Swami’s teachings.  Many Chinese had transformed their lives as a result of having known Swami and practised His teachings, said the speaker emphasizing on the need to have constant self-introspection.  The need to surrender negative qualities to Swami with a prayer to help overcome all negative qualities is important, said the speaker reiterating that Bhagawan wanted all to transform.

The highlight of the evening was a drama presentation on the Legend of Miao Shan, a princess who renounced worldly comforts in pursuit of the Ultimate Goal finally to emerge as a Bodhisattva. The presentation staged by the youth and children from Sai Study Group, Medan, Indonesia was based on an adaptation of an ancient Chinese folklore. Presenting the story, the drama highlighted man’s evolution from human to Divine.

Mio Shan, the third born of the King was a special child, embodying great human values, treating all alike with great compassion. Completely detached to the royal comforts and affluence, Miao sets out to seclusion, seeking a life of renunciation.

As years rolled by, the aged King was afflicted by a strange disease.  The wise medicine man of the palace who was summoned pronounced that one of his children should sacrifice both her eyes and arms to save the King from peril.  Two elder daughters found excuses to escape the situation citing various reasons. No one remembered Miao Shan, the third child, who had left home for good.

With the two elderly princesses giving lame excuses to escape the situation, the medicine man advised the royal court to seek the advice of a nun residing in the Fragrant Mountains.  Hearing the plea, the nun immediately agreed to do the sacrifice, citing that the King was suffering from his own Karmic deeds. The nun was none other than Miao Shan.  With Miao’s sacrifice the King instantly recovered.

Out of this great sacrifice emerged a Bodhisattva, effulgent with thousand eyes and thousand arms, the Avalokiteswara whose gaze is always turned down with Love and Compassion to help all those who look up to Her – Goddess Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy who is worshipped by one and all for eternity.

At the end of the presentation all the participating children were felicitated with special gifts. Bhajans, both traditional Prasanthi style and adaptation of Chinese version, by devotees from various contries, continued in full devotional fervor and Mangala Arathi was offered at 1830 hrs. Prasadam was distributed to the entire audience.

Earlier on the 23rd February, on the first day of Chinese New Year, 36 High Lamas of Tibetan Order from Sera Jhe Monastery in Mysore joined by hundreds of devotees from various countries, including westerners, presented a Buddhist devotional evening engulfing Prasanthi with holy chants.

The proceeding began with initial offerings by Capt. Ong and family, organisers of the day’s presentation. This was followed by offering of Tibetan Khatas by the High Lamas, amulets and Naivedyam by devotees from Singapore.

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Purificatory rites continued next, in the backdrop of Buddhist chantings followed group chantings of Buddhist verses and Mantras from holy scriptures coupled with rites by High Lamas.

The second part of the programme commenced with the chanting of various Buddhist Mantras, namely, Om Mani Padme Hung, Medicine Buddha Mantra, Green Tara Mantra, Special Eternal Prayers composed on Bhagawan, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha Mantra, Mantra of the Heart of The Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom, The Long Dharani of Chenrezig, Gayathri Mantra followed by another round of Om Mani Padme Hung to concluded with a recital of dedication of Tibetan Buddhist Chants For Universal Peace 2012.

Master Of Ceremonies, Ong Sai Keet, elaborated the significance of the Mantras, Rites and other proceedings. The whole programme lasted for an hour and forty minutes.

At the end of the day’s events, all the High Lamas were felicitated with special presenatations before Mangala Arathi offering.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II