Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam…

International Choir comprising over 240 choristers from across the globe presented a scintillating display of devotional singing on the Christmas Eve, on 24th evening in Prasanthi Nilayam. This year also witnessed a change of guard, as experienced and accomplished singer from Munich, Germany, Ms. Gisela Sebastian took over the reins from Ms. Sylvia Alden, conducting the Choir.

The programme commenced at 1700 hrs. after half-an-hour Veda chanting. Mr. Aurthur Hillcoat, veteran devotee from Australia and formerly Christmas Committee Coordinator lit the lamp that was followed by customary offerings at the Sanctum Sanctorum by senior devotees.

Beginning in traditional Indian style with three Omkars and a Ganesha Mantra, the choristers incited round of applause for their perfectly tuned Sanskrit Mantra. The one hour Choir consisted of numbers, Silent Night Holy Night, Hallelujah We Praise, There is none like You, O Holy Night, Oh Lord You are beautiful etc. ending with a special composition seeking Shanti, Peace, a perfect finale infusing peace within while diffusing peace around engulfing the whole of Prasanthi Nilayam.

The different voices, sopranos, altos, tenors and bass were carefully auditioned and put together to synchronise with an interesting variety of instrumentalists, singing in praise of The Lord on the Christmas Eve. The sweet and melodious sound of the violin was unmistakable against the crystal clear tinkle of the keyboards and the beat of the percussions which resonated seamlessly with that of the ubiquitous guitar. The fusion of “amen” with “shanti” in the curtain call was refreshingly exhilarating.

Although the choristers had very little time for rehearsing, having started only on 14th December 2011, their tremendous dedication and commitment, which saw them meet twice a day, every day, had paid off, and the crowds were well entertained by a very professional and polished performance, on this Christmas Eve.

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The robust and spontaneous applause from the audience, which had filled the hall to capacity, bore testimony to its immense appreciation. Prof. Anil Kumar, speaking at the end of the session, was clear in lavish appreciation. He lauded the group for its impeccable and outstanding performance.

The venue was turned into a heaven with dazzling resplendent lights spreading all over adding charm to the Christmas décor. The Croatian decorators with assistance from many other countries tirelessly worked for a fortnight bringing special colours to Prasanthi for Christmas 2011.

These dedicated decorators ensured that the gaiety and the spirit of Christmas were adequately reflected through strings of flashing lights, coloured bulbs and scintillating luminescence. The Croatians spared nothing in ensuring that the highest standards were maintained in erecting the décor for Christmas. Before long, the Prasanthi Nilayam environment was transformed from the usual scenic, lush greenery of plants and flowers to one reflecting the spirit and gaiety of Christmas.

Bhajans continued for the next half an hour and special clothings, sarees and safari pieces were distributed to the assemblage of choristers. Prasadam was distributed and Mangala Arathi was offered at 1830 hrs.

The session continued with Prof. Anil Kumar contemplating on the significance of the Advent of Jesus and the Holy Night relating the same with Bhagawan. Drawing interesting parallels vouching the Oneness of Bhagawan and Jesus, Sai and Isa, Anil Kumar affirmed the Eternal Presence of Bhagawan in Prasanthi Nilayam, amidst His devotees.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II