Onam 2012

The Guest speaker Hon’ble Justice Sri Radhakrishnan’s beginning sentence addressing devotees from Kerala, “all the efforts that we have taken to assemble here is worth as you do not have Onam in Kerala as it is here” rightly reflected the holistic approach the festivity brings in to God’s Very Own Prasanthi Nilayam. Onam has always been a different experience in Prasanthi Nilayam compared to the ‘home’ experience. Where, in modern times, culture, traditions and the legends connected to festivities take a back-seat owing to unhealthy culture of commercialism and excess materialism, Prasanthi Nilayam often welcomes the holistic side of all festivities, embracing and disseminating true purport of each festivity.

This year too, as has been over the years, thousand from the state along with hundreds from different parts of India joined Prasanthi Nilayam, the holy hamlet that has witnessed a metamorphosis of the festivity over decades, celebrating the festivity for three days, from August 27 to the final Thiruvonam Day on August 29.

Reflecting the festive mood, the Prasan­thi Mandir and its environs were given a gay and fes­tive look by putting up flags, buntings, festoons and colourful parasols in typical Kerala style. The Kerala touch was obvious with the liberal use of coconut palm leave all around. Panchavadyam, an ensemble of five musical instruments popular in South India, and Nadaswaram, another classical musical form, played during mornings and evening rendered the much required fillip to the festive spirit.

Mridangam Recital: (August 27, 2012 Eve)

The Onam festivity got a kick off on the 27th August evening, beginning a Mridangam Recital by Sri Kuzhalmandam Ramakrishnan of Guiness Record fame, who presented a scintillating offering entitled Vadya Sangeetam.

Playing for a full 45 minutes, not-stop, when the artiste’s gifted fingers fell in harmony on the blessed percussion instrument, what emanated was sheer brilliance tantalising the audience in the august evening assembly. Known for his marathon stints, when Sri Ramakrishnan continued, exhibiting keen passion, erect on the stage, students as well joined the artiste weaving rhythmic beats that reverberated in the entire hall. Arousing the curiosity of the listeners the talented artiste raised his beats often, to a crescendo playing Jugalbandhi with his accompanists.

The artiste was accompanied by Guruvayoor Rajamoni and Adarsh Ajay Kumar on Violin, Aiyappan Nenmara on Saxophone, Thrikkakkara YN Santharam on Ganjira, Babu Idappal on Keyboard and Umesh on Rhytham Pad.

At the end, the artiste and all accompanists were felicitated with special gifts. Prasadam was distributed and Mangala Arathi was offered at 1810 hrs.

Sri Sathya Sai Rehabilitation Programme and Musical Offering: (Aug 28, 2012 Eve)

On the second day of Onam 2012, the evening programme commenced with a unique Gratitude Offering attended by over 700 ‘hearts’ that were touched by the ‘Healing Touch’ of Bhagawan.

The programme was organised by the Sri Sathya Sai Rehabilitation Programme that runs a post operative care mission for all the Cardiac operated patients from Kerala, operated at Bhagawan’s twin Super Speciality Hospitals, at Prasanthigram and Whitefield.

A group of 700 including grateful patients along with relatives attended the function.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Anand Mohan, who spearheads this most Ideal Service Project, divulged detailing the evolution of the project that had its inception in the year 2009. Reading out its progress report, Dr Anand Mohan mentioned that tremendous progress has been achieved, but more are to be done. The programme has over 2800 patients in its list, with over 20 specialist medical professional taking care of the post operative care.

Two members from the group also shared their heartfelt gratitude, speaking in vernacular Malayalam. Ms. Sarala, hailing from Kuthuparamba in Kannur District narrated, how, from a hapless situation, her life has taken a turn, with Bhagawan’s protecting hands saving her life, taking care of all her needs.

Twenty-two years after an initial angio operation in 1988, when she developed more health problems, she was not in a position to afford the monetary demands of operation fee, amounting to several lakhs. As advised by a kind-hearted Sai devotee professional, the patient was subsequently brought to Bhagawan’s hospital at Whitefield, Bangalore. Within a month-time a complicated surgery was performed granting Ms Sarala a new lease of life. Post operation,the patient has been fully adopted by SRP, taking care of all her needs. Pausing for a while the grateful patient uttered a few lines in conclusion:  Bhagawan is My God Almighty!!!

Mr Sebastian, a Christian believer from Mattul, Kannur District began with the customary Christian phrase saluting the Lord: “Praise The Lord!” A mason by profession, Sebastian narrated his tale of His ‘Saving Grace’ that happened in the quickest fashion, all by His Divine Grace. Upon detecting a contraction value problem though the patient was referred to various doctors, owing to financial constraints Sebastian chose to report at Bhagawan’s hospital.  The hospital that runs free of cost, with thousands of patients in waiting list, was ready to perform his operation on the very first day of his enrolment as a fresh patient, highlighted Sebastian lauding the incomparable service being done at Bhagawan’s hospitals.  A grateful Sebastian has come with fourteen members of his family, thanking Bhagawan and SRP for his new life. Mr  Sebastian also narrated a ‘miracle’ that happened that morning, wherein his sister’s little child, who was detected with a hole in her heart, was found absolutely perfect when checked in to the Super Speciality Hospital at Prasanthigram.

A Carnatic Musical offering by accomplished singer Sri Yogeshwar Sarma followed.  Serenading Beloved Bhagawan for almost an hour, the accomplished artiste produced many gems from the compositions of past masters, winding up with a couple of Malayalam compositions.  The session was enlivened by the harmonious blend of the singer and accompanists, providing ample support to the singer.

Thiruvonam: (August 29)

Thiruvonam in Prasanthi Nilayam evokes nostalgic memories of golden days, when Bhagawan would go round the serried ranks of devotees giving ineffable joy to one and all… it is one occasion when Prasanthi would often go ‘Kerala’ when, even devotees from other states would emulate wearing traditional Kerala costume.

This year too, the festivity evoked greater enthusiasm as hundreds of devotees from the state joined the Nagarsankirtan in the dawning hours of of the holy day. At Mandir, normal Veda Chanting concluded fifteen minutes in advance, leaving the boys from the Institute to play ‘Nadaswaram’, an opportunity students would often get during Onam in Bhagawan’s immediate presence.

On the auspicious morning, the Mandir was bedecked with typical Kerala decorations. Onapookkalam, traditional flower decoration along with Nirapara (traditional Indian measuring cup symbolising plentiful harvest) was arranged in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Bhajans by Kerala troupe followed before Mangala Arathi at 0900 hrs.

A mass procession, an ensemble of the state’s rich cultural heritage, followed taking its route along the main road. Various cultural traditions, namely, Thriruvathirakkali, Vallam Kali (boat race), Theyyam art, Kalaripayattu, Kolkali, Kavadiyattam, Oppana of the Muslim community were on display apart from Panchavadyam, Nadasawaram, Vedam and Bhajans.

Beginning from the Hanuman Temple Junction, the procession, attended by thousands, moved in disciplined segments of different cultural blocks.

The one-hour long procession culminated at the Ganesh Mandir inside the ashram premises.

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In the evening, the programme commenced with a musical ‘solo’ rendering by Sri TS Radhakrishnan, singing “Neerajadala Nayana Hare Krishna…”.

Prof Mukundan, State President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, gave a brief introductory talk introducing the speakers, events, touching upon the service activities being done in the State.

Winners of Annual Essay Writing Competition, organised by the State Organisation at College and Higher Secondary levels, were given away Gold Medals on the occasion. The winners Kum Jessey KS from Thiruvananthapuram and Kum Surya Raghavendran from Trissur received medals from Sri K Chakravarthi, formerly Secretary Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, currently Member Trustee with the Trust.

Speaking on the occasion, Sri K Chakravarthi lauded the commendable effort by Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations in bringing greater awareness in students at school and college levels. Sri Chakravarthi urged other state organisations also to emulate the Kerala model.

The Guest Speaker for the evening was Hon’ble Justice Sri Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, sitting judge at the Kerala High Court.

“All the efforts that we have taken to assemble here is worth as you do not have Onam in Kerala as it is here” said the Hon’ble Justice addressing the thousands, from Kerala, assembled in the Sai Kulwant Hall. Commenting on the erosion in human values owing to unhealthy culture of commercialism and excess materialism, he posed a question as to how much we are able to practise Bhagawan’s teachings and how far are we able to take His messages forward. He also mentioned about His personal experience, as to how Bhagawan beautifully dispelled the illusion of ‘duality in spirituality’, after years of infighting, bringing greater awareness about Bhagawan’s all-pervasive entity.

Concluding his inspirational speech the Justice urged every devotee to raise to the level of practising His teachings, irrespective position and cadre, mingling five Human Values with great constitutional values, making India a Sai Bharat, as envisioned by Beloved Bhagawan.

Next to come was a colourful dance drama entitled Parvathi Parinayam by the Balvikas children from Calicut along with the students from Sri Sathya Sai Vidyapeeth, Srisailam. Intertwined with melodious songs and dance sequences, tiny tots from the state presented a most absorbing session, depicting the legend of the Holy Marriage of Lord Shiva with Mother Parvathi.

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The colourful presentation began with a beautiful dance sequence, Malari Dance often performed in temple precincts propitiating Gods and Goddesses.

Mother Sathi’s rebirth as Himavan’s Daughter Parvathi, Beautiful maiden Parvathi’s intense passion for Lord Shiva, Padmasura’s atrocities on entire world leading the devas to seek counsel of Lord Bhrahma, later Lord Vishnu, Vishnu’a wise counselling asking devas to seek Lord Shiva’s grace as a son born out of Shiva-Parvathi only could redeem them from the suffering, all these scenes were depicted by the ‘chirping’ tiny tots, dancing, singing and swaying at the Sanctum Sanctorum.

As commanded by Lord Vishnu, as a Divine Plan, Panchabana was employed to distract Lord Shiva from His penance. Furious at his act, Lord Shiva opens His third-eye, reducing Panchabana into ashes. Devas gets terrified and seeks Lord Shiva’s grace, urging that only a child born out of Shiva-Parvathi could end Padmasura’s evil designs.

Lord Shiva appears before Parvathi in the guise of an old man, testing her, despising Lord Shiva’s nature of an ascetic, unsuitable for a maiden of Parvathi’s celestial beauty. Parvathi remains nonchalant, determined, and loyal to Lord Shiva. The Lord drops His disguise, accepting Mother Parvathi as His Eternal Consort. Eventually Shanmugha is born to destroy the Padmasura to maintain the world peace.

Even as bhajans continued, all the participating children were felicitated and prasadam was distributed to the entire assemblage. With Mangala Arathi at 1845 hrs., the session came to a close bringing curtains down to yet another glorious Onam in Prasanthi Nilayam.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II