“Joy of Living”, Christmas Decorations 2011

Christmas is one of the biggest Christian holy days celebrated throughout the world. Though it is celebrated in almost the same way in all countries, there are still some old unique customs which differ form country to country.

The aim of the Balkan South European countries led by Croatia that took up this monumental task was to present this wonderful event describing the birth of Jesus in a way which will be familiar to all Christians. They also wished that the warmth of Christmas touch even those who don’t observe Christmas in their cultures and just to make it even more interesting, they had to conjure up a bit of Croatian Christmas.

There is someting which is common to all Christians and that is God’s temple, the church, a place in which lots of Christians feel closest to God. Everyone who enters a church must notice magnificent colourful stained-glass windows which together with the sun make the interior of the church a special and sublime place. The Croatian magic was that they set the same atmosphere through decorations made of colourful plastic sheets.

This project was blessed by Bhagawan an year and a half ago and the team has worked tirelessly since then. Every thing was handmade. They spent a full year to make the individual plastic stained sheets which where then made into panels to surround the pillars in the Sai Kulwant Hall and as hangings all around the hall. There were also panels above the Sanctum Sanctorum and directly facing it. The Sai Kulwanth Hall had transformed into a church.

In addition to the decoration of Sai Kulwanth Hall, the group ably assisted by youth from South Africa, went about decorating the entire ashram with a special focus on the Western Canteen. While a Snowman and Santa had settled down in the left side of the lawns in front of the canteen overlooking the Nativity Scene, displaying the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the three wise men, the right side was a riot of light and colours. A christmas tree of light in the centre was surrounded by various Santas circumambulating it with bright white stars forming the circumference.

Another similar altar was set up inside the canteen, with its own christmas tree and crèche. The Book Store was the other major beneficiary of the decoration team with its own tree and lights.

Ornaments and other decoration to the extent possible, were made out of ecological materials and are ment to be reused. Only the low-cost materials have been bought in all the countries whose Sai devotees participate in the Project. Elements that represent the Western but also local Christmas tradition have been represented in an original way: the focus is made here on vitrage coloured style decorations and wheat grass sprouting.

While doing preparations, a group of almost 500 people had been doing the spiritual practice of repeating the Divine Name to charge the ambience and they state with emphasis that while hand making the Christmas decoration, all of them have been turned towards God and experienced His omnipresence, His love, His teachings, caring words, forgiveness and help.