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78th Birthday Celebrations Report


Aum Sri Sai Ram.
Tens of thousands of devotees from different parts of the world gathered to be at the Lotus Feet for this auspicious and joyous occasion of the 78th Birthday Celebrations of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Prasanthi Nilayam wore a festive vesture with the Mandir being richly caparisoned with festoons and beautiful flower decorations.

The week-long celebrations commenced with the traditional Rathotsavam or Chariot Festival on the morning of the 18th of November. This is an annual ritual in which the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are taken in a palanquin in a procession to the Old Mandir in the village of Puttaparthi, followed by a chariot bearing the idol of Lord Krishna, to the accompaniment of Vedam chanting and Bhajans by the students. In the evening, the Bal Vikas students of Kerala presented a programme titled "Bhakta Purandaradasa" based on the life of Saint Purandaradasa, a holy man of South India. The presentation depicted how a worldly man extremely attached to wealth, undergoes a change in his outlook and is inspired to renounce all his wealth and spend the rest of his life singing the glories of the Lord.

19th November 2003 was celebrated as Ladies Day. Bhagawan lit the lamp in front of a portrait of Mother Easwaramma to mark the commencement of the morning's programme. The students of the Sri Sathya Sai Primary school then presented a dance programme depicting various episodes from the Bhagawan's life. This was followed by a drama entitled "Ek Shakti, Roop Anek", in which the different aspects of the feminine principle like Love and Sacrifice were shown as exemplified in the lives of Rani Jhansi Laxmi Bai and Florence Nightingale. The evening programme had Poornachandra Auditorium as the venue and featured talks by five lady speakers and a Carnatic Vocal rendition by the renowned artist Sudha Raghunathan.

20th and 21st of November saw plays staged in the evening at the Sai Kulwant Hall by the Bal Vikas children of Singapore and Canada respectively. The plays elaborated on the teachings of Bhagawan and how they are to be practiced in our daily lives, be it at the individual level, the family level or at the community level.

The 22nd Convocation of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning was conducted in the Sai Kulwant Hall on afternoon of 22nd November. On this day, Bhagawan as the Revered Chancellor of the Institute blesses the students who have graduated that year and gives His Benedictory Discourse. It is an occasion that remains as a cherished memory in the mind of every student of the Institute.

The Chief Guest at this year's proceedings was Shri Bhairon Singh Shekawat, the Honourable Vice-President of India. The students were administered the oath to remain true to the values of the Institute to the end of their lives. After the presentation of medals to the students who had passed with distinction in their respective disciplines, the ChiefGuest, Shri Shekawat, addressed the gathering. He spoke about the unique and holy atmosphere that he pervaded the ashram and expressed his gratitude to Bhagawan for the various social projects that He has undertaken for the uplift of the needy in the country. He exhorted the students to use the knowledge they had gained during their stay in the Institute, in service of the nation.

Bhagawan then delivered His Divine Benedictory Discourse. He reminded the students of their great good fortune of having taken birth in the sacred land of Bharat and exalted the values that a true Bharathiya (resident of Bharat) stands for. He advised the students that the degrees that they have earned as not as important as the values that they have learned being students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. He declared that the most important thing that students must always strive for, is the Love of God, which is the most precious wealth that can be gained. The proceedings concluded with the singing of the National Anthem by the entire gathering.

Later that evening the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning presented a drama entitled "Tera Tujhko Arpan" based on the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, that the gifts that God has given us like the talents or skills we possess, has to be offered back to the Lord Himself by using the gifts in the service of the Lord. They must not be frittered away in the pursuit of wealth. The play told the story of two singers, one who decides to make a career out of his musical talents and the other who instead uses his gift to sing the glories of the Lord's Name. At the height of his fame, the career-minded singer loses his voice. His friend then advises him to use his voice to sing for God. Only then does he regain his voice. The evening concluded with arati offered to Bhagawan.

The dawn of 23rd November arrived with Bhagawan in his limitless Compassion granting His Divine Darshan to all assembled in the Sai Kulwant Hall, and added to their joy by going twice around the hall. The morning programme saw three distinguished speakers addressing the vast gathering of eager devotees. The first speaker was Justice Bhagawati, Former Chief Justice of India. He was followed by Dr. Jumsai, Director of the Institute of Sathya Sai Education of Thailand and also former Member of Parliament of Thailand. The third speaker was Dr. Michael Goldstein, Chairman of the Overseas Sathya Sai Organisation and of the Prashanti Council.

Bhagawan then gave His Nectarine Discourse. He spoke on the greatness of mothers like Putlibai and Jijabai who gave birth to such celebrated sons of this land as Gandhiji and Chattrapathi Shivaji. He then related various incidents surrounding His Advent and from His Life, which with their miraculous nature, convinced all who witnessed these incidents about His Divinity.

In the afternoon, Bhagawan, to the surprise and enormous delight of all devotees, entered the Sai Kulwant Hall, dressed in a bright yellow robe. It was a beautiful sight for all to watch as devotees feasted on the radiant Form of the Lord. The evening programme featured two internationally renowned musicians - Parveen Sultana and Dana Gillespie. Mrs. Parveen Sultana began with a song composed on Bhagawan, by her Guru, Ustad Dilshad Khan. She then went on to regale the audience with her soulful rendition of Meera Bhajans. Ms. Dana Gillespie, with her songs of inspiration that contain teachings of saints and sacred books from all over the world, enthralled the gathering and made it an evening for all to remember.

On the 24th the Bal Vikas children from the state of Tamil Nadu staged a play titled "Bhaktha Ambarisha" about the Lords immense love for His devotee and how he does not allow any disaster befall His beloved children. The following day, the Bal Vikas children of Bihar depicted Daasya Bhakthi, the path of servitude, which is one of the nine forms of devotion, using episodes from the life of Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Rama.

Thus concluded the 78th Birthday Celebrations of our Lord, leaving everyone with beautiful memories to carry home and cherish.

Jai Sai Ram.

sourced: http://www.srisathyasai.org.in/pages/birthday_report_03.htm