November 1, 2010
Love All Serve All
Transform the Service Into Worship;
That is the Highest Sadhana.
~ Sathya Sai Baba
In the immediate divine Presence of Bhagawan, 95 fortunate couples joyously celebrated their marriages in Sai Kulwant Hall. The Hall was gorgeously decorated with flowers for this rare and long-awaited opportunity. The excited anticipation in the Hall was electric, as if as one family, everyone in the Hall was giving away these brides. The central portion of the Hall directly in front of Bhagawan was laid out with individual sets of traditional paraphernalia for this sacred puja. Bhagawan was ushered into the Hall with Nadaswaram. In full bridal attire, the brides and grooms, along with their respective parents, came up into the Hall in procession from the central drive. The brides wore the sanctified wedding saris handed to them individually by Bhagawan the evening before.
In His gracious way, Bhagawan generously gave everything imaginable to these couples. From the moment the wedding parties reached Prasanthi Nilayam, in anticipation of this event, affectionate parental care was taken of the participants. A brand new hall was provided for their accommodation and they were escorted to and from the Birthday Prasad, where a special counter and dedicated team had been allocated for them. Special seating blocks were arranged in Sai Kulwant Hall for the distribution of elegant and auspicious green and gold silk wedding saris, and silk wedding dhotis and shirts, all specially ordered for the occasion. Bhagawan went up and down the arranged rows of brides and grooms, giving blessings and padanamaskar to all, along with the new clothes. After Bhagawan's darshan and dinner, personal care kits, wedding makeup kits and full wedding jewellery were given so that each bride could be perfectly and uniformly adorned for the momentous day. Teams of students from Anantapur were assigned to each bride to serve as her sisters to assist her with this preparation.
These holy marriages were conducted strictly according to venerable Hindu tradition. The ceremony began with homage to Ganapati, followed by the relevant rituals. The mangala sutras (sacred Hindu marriage thread) had been twice separately blessed by Bhagawan that morning. The auspicious moment came at 11:59 a.m., when the grooms tied these blessed mangala sutras around their brides' necks. Enthusiastic applause thundered from the Hall. The couples then exchanged garlands and circumambulated around the homa kunda (individual fire pit vessels), holding hands and sealing their vows of lifelong fidelity.
Bhagawan had personally supervised and selected each and every item to be gifted to the couples, down to the most minute detail. One unique feature of this mass marriage was that every couple was provided with identical items. As part of the ceremony, brides were given toe rings and anklets, and both brides and grooms were given his-and-her watches with Bhagawan's divine image on the face, and his-and-her umbrellas. Large red duffel bags, decorated with ribbons, a full complement of household and kitchen items, a blanket, and a torch were passed out to each newly-wed couple. Bhagawan appeared very pleased and happy with the weddings, and His Grace overflowed onto the wedding parties as He moved along the groups after the ceremony, all the way to the back of the blocks, giving blessings to everyone, couples and parents alike. Traditional savory and sweet wedding Prasad was distributed in the Hall. The participants could be seen afterward, floating out of the Hall with blissful smiles on their faces.
Marriage registration certificates were distributed directly after the ceremony.
Sai Kulwant Hall was gorgeously decorated with fresh and unique floral arrangements for this year's annual Women's Day. Just after noon, Bhagawan was escorted into the Hall by Nadaswaram, Vedam, and by the stirring music and flawless performances of the Primary School and Anantapur Bands. This year's chief guest was India's first woman president, Her Excellency, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the Honorable President of India. Other dignitaries present were His Excellency ESL Narasimhan, Governor of Andhra Pradesh, His Excellency Sri Shivraj Patil, Governor of Punjab, and the Honorable Minister for Tourism and information & Public Relations for the State of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Mrs. Geeta Reddy.
The program commenced with the National Anthem. Smt. Chethana Raju, the managing Trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women's Welfare Trust, gave the opening address. In her talk, she highlighted Bhagawan's consistent vision for a better future for women. She traced His activities on behalf of women, including the establishment of a women's welfare trust, which remains under His direct guidance and continuous, caring support.
Industrialist Smt. Mallika Srinivasan, who also serves as a Trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women's Welfare Trust, and Dr. Mrs. Geeta Reddy, also addressed the gathering. The highlight was the address by the President, who has an extensive record of undertakings to help women. She was pleased and impressed by the extent of the coverage and help being extended to women in this area by Bhagawan's Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Trust. She spoke eloquently about the needs and potential of women and their importance to a healthy and thriving society. In the course of her speech, the President quoted Smt. Indira Gandhi, the only woman Prime Minister of India. Indira Gandhi, whose birthday coincided with Ladies Day and had been celebrated in Delhi that morning, had shared the advice of her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, that there are two kinds of people, those who do the work, and those who take the credit. He advised to always be in the first group because there was less competition.
A 'vote of thanks' by Dr. Mrs. Hyma Reddy was followed by a vigorous dance drama by Bal Vikas children from Tamil Nadu, Mahishasura Mardhini, which befittingly depicted the triumph of the Goddess in a battle with the forces of evil. After Mangala Arathi, the entire assembly stood for a heartfelt rendition of the National Anthem.
In the evening, Bhagawan was ushered into Sai Kulwant Hall just after 7 p.m. for a cultural program. First, there was a scintillating dance performance by the students of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar, Hyderabad. This began with a tiny tot dancing on a clay pot rhythmically with classic gestures. Other girls followed, dancing on brass plates and holding deepams. This is known as Kuchupidi, a traditional dance form of Andhra Pradesh. The girls then danced to the bhajan, Brahmanda Nayaka, celebrating the glory of Bhagawan.
This was followed by a performance by the talented Carnatic singer, Smt. Sudha Raghunathan, who sang beautiful renditions of favourite Carnatic keertans and Meera bhajans. Her vibrant voice was replete with devotion, so much so that Bhagawan made a special request of her to sing "Brahmamokkate".
Italian chocolates, sweets and tasteful gifts were distributed to the assembly. Bhagawan accepted Arathi just before 9 p.m.return to news