Christmas Mass and Chariot Procession…

Lord Jagannath of Puri along with His brother Balabhadra and sister Subadra, (Lord Krishna, Balarama and Subadra) came out in a regal procession this morning, adorning a huge chariot, blessing thousands of devotees in Puttaparthi, outside the Ashram.

Thousands upon thousands of devotees from the state of Odisha, on a Parthi Yatra, joined in this regal procession organized by the State Sathya Sai Organisation. The procession was styled similar to the world-famous Jagannatha Chariot Festival of Puri that happens every year.

Every year in mid-summer, Lord Jagannath, with His elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, goes on vacation, travelling on grand chariots, from His temple in Puri, to His garden palace in the countryside. This belief of the Hindus has given rise to one of the biggest religious festivals in India — the Rath Yatra or the Chariot Festival. This is also the etymological origin of the English word ‘Juggernaut’.

The procession began at 0930 hrs. from the birthplace of Bhagawan, The Lord Shiva Temple, and moved along the main road up to Vidyagiri gate to retreat to the original starting point.

Thousands upon thousands of men and women from the state joined the procession marked with great devotional exuberance. While men in yellow scarves and red headband made merry dancing to heavy drum beats, hundreds of women preceded the royal chariot carrying auspicious ‘Kalasa’ on their head. Another set of thousands, women, moved in steady pace, joining in chorus singing and whistling. There were SaiRams, Jaikars, eerie whistling and continuous singing of the bhajan Sai Jagannatha… A group of dancing men led the procession, dressed in various coloured costumes , representing the rich cultural tradition of the state.

It turned out to be a different experience for the folks of Puttaparthi, that joined in thousands along the road side, watching the big melee. Puttaparthi that has seen many such processions, its own Chariot Festival and similar festivals organized by various districts of Andhra Pradesh, watched the procession in rapt attention adoring the Lord mounted on the Chariot.

Meanwhile, the final function of Christmas celebrations, Holy Mass was performed this morning in the double decker auditorium in Prasanthi Nilayam.

A feature uniquely Prasanthi, is the simultaneous contrasting events that some how blend with unique harmony creating a new beauty of its own. Even as Jaganath Ratha was moving in all majesty outside Ashram, in a quiet corner adjacent to the Book store a Multi-Faith Christmas Mass was in progress. Conducted by Fr. Charles Ogada and ably guided by Assistant Celebrant Michael Galligan, the Multi Faith Worship featured children from The Children’s Project, Coorg and Sai devotees from around the world.

The programme entitled, “A Journey Through Love” began with a grand entrance of all the participants led by an angelic girl holding a candle chanting Vedam. A dexterous Bharatanatyam presentation by Jhyni Ravishankar from the United Kingdom to the music of “Sai Eshwara…” warmed up the stage for Multi-Faith Skits which followed. A skit on Arjuna’s dilemma and Krishna’s sage advice, a revelation of Buddha on his process of realisation, the process of David being chosen by Samuel, Archangel Gabriel revealing the word of God to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon him) and the grand Sermon on the Mount of Jesus of Nazareth spiced up the occasion.

Fr. Ogada and Michael Galligan quoted texts from Bhagawan’s discourses and the children sang beautiful songs between the skits. Father Charles Ogada addressed the gathering at the end of the skits reminding everyone that Bhagawan is alive in everyone of us. Our hands are His, our legs are His and our hearts are His and it is through us that His mission continues. The programme concluded with Mangala Arati.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II