Prasanthi turns Chinese Red as the Spiritual town celebrates Chinese New Year…
New Year dots a new beginning and it has been the privilege of every tradition on planet earth to rejoice the advent of these new beginnings following the respective vernacular almanac. Every such New Year is backed by inspirational tales drawing its origin from the ancient folklore.
Maiden Chinese New Year in Prasanthi Nilayam
At a time when ancient values cuddled in the rich Chinese Tradition and Culture started flagging resulting in sidelining the inner significance of the traditional festivity, the Chinese New Year has had its maiden voyage to the Land of Peace, Prasanthi Nilayam in the year 1997. More than 1500 devotees of Chinese origin from different parts of the world assembled to celebrate and pray…and their prayer was to guide them to impart their rich and great cultural heritage to the younger generation and for deeper insights into Chinese Tradition…
Responding to the Chinese plea, Bhagawan, in His Divine discourse, by going to the origin and route of the word “china” gave a new meaning to the tradition and civilisation saying that “china” means “my heart is my country”. Dwelling upon various subjects touching, boosting and thus elevating the culture and civilisation of chinese origin, Bhagawan ended His enlightening Divine Discourse exhorting one and all to give up the bad accepting the good.
“When you go back to your country with good qualities, people will mark the change in you after your visit to Puttaparthi. Treat Prasanthi Nilayam as a spiritual workshop. No charges are levied here. Everything is free. I am ready. Make the best use of your stay here”, said Bhagawan during the occasion.
New Year 2009
Chinese New Year, also known as “Spring Festival” or the “Lunar New Year” is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese Tradition and Culture. It is a traditional practice and is customary for all Chinese that thought they may be working abroad away from home, but come the Chinese New Year, no matter where they are, they will always make an effort to travel back to their parental home to visit their parents, to have reunion dinner on the eve of the Chinese New Year with their parents as well as their siblings and other family members. This Chinese tradition is to remind all of the importance of the family unity; the importance of unity and love within the family and more importantly the value of filial piety.
The Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year for a total of 15 days. This year’s Chinese New Year started on the 26th January and the year is identified as the year of the Ox as per the Chinese Zodiac.
A total of about 700 Chinese devotees from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Australia participated in the Chinese New Year celebration held in Prasanthi Nilayam on the 6th day of the Chinese New Year, i.e., 31st January 2009. This year’s celebration was organized by Zone 4.
The whole Prasanthi was beautifully decorated with many festoons, traditional Chinese red buntings, photos of Bhagawan and sayings on Bhagawan’s teachings. There were also colourful hoardings containing many quotes on the theme of the New Year celebrations.
Chanting by Tibetan Monks and other Devotees
January 30, 2009
The 30th evening reverberated with traditional Medicine Buddha chanting by 38 lamas from Sera Jhe Monastry in Mysore aimed at world peace. Devotees from Singapore had the traditional offering to Bhagawan in the form of Thanka, excellent piece of Tibetan art works, painting depicting various facts of Buddhism of mystic sect, followed by a sanctified statue of Lord Buddha. The backdrop in Sai Kulwant Hall had a beautiful picturesque setting inscribed with Om Mani Padme Hum, the Mantra for compassion. Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra (prayer), Om Mani Padme Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Viewing the written form of the mantra is said to have the same effect -- it is often carved into stones and placed where people can see them.
Lion Dance, Veda Chanting, Speech, Dances and Skit
January 31, 2009
On the 31st evening, Bhagawan came in a procession accompanied by 2 colourful Chinese lion dancers, following rhythmic chinese drums together with a group of about 40 children, all very colourfully dressed, chanting the Sai Gayathri Mantra. The festival was officially inaugurated by lighting the lotus shaped chinese candle. This was followed by the chanting of traditional Chinese “DaBeiJou”, Great Compassionate Mantra in Sanskrit, by the children from Malaysia and Indonesia addressing the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, followed by Sri Rudram.
Children from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore presented traditional Chinese items like mandarin oranges, ‘nian gou’ (a traditional Chinese cake) and ‘ang pow’ (red packets) to Bhagawan. Offering love and gratitude in the name of delegates, Prof. Dr. Henry Yeoh, President of Sai Organisation of Singapore in his welcoming address sought Divine forgiveness for their failings as is the tradition of Chinese during Chinese New Year, seeking forgiveness from parents. He reminded the participants of their good fortune to receive Bhagawan’s precious Divine Darshan. Bhagawan, through His personal example of Patience, Perseverance, Forbearance, Forgiveness and Unconditional Love has come to remind mankind of the inherent divinity within them. Swami wanted all devotees to be living examples of His Teachings.
This was followed by a cultural programme started with a beautiful dance by 20 children from Indonesia performing a dance titled “Thousand Arms of Kuan Yin”. This was followed by another traditional Chinese chopstick dance by the children of Malaysia.
The highlight of the programme was a drama entitled “Love and Gratitude” which is a story of a family waiting for their son to return home for the Chinese New Year.
Mr. Lee, a Sathya Sai EHV teacher was facing many challenges when teaching culture and tradition to the children of his village community. The villagers mocked him for his righteous teachings as he was facing his own predicament for a rebellious son who had not returned home for many years since he left for studies in the United States of America. Mr. and Mrs. Lee prayed piously and profusely to Bhagawan everyday for their son’s return who eventually turned up at the family home. After a heated argument, their son was fully transformed after listening to the expounding explanations of Bhagawan’s teaching.
In the meantime another miracle was experienced by the villagers that made them realized that Love and Gratitude will overcome all difficulties with the grace of our beloved Bhagawan.
At the end of the drama, participants were blessed with a coveted photo session. Willian Heng, who acted in the drama as Lee Kiat, the rebellious son of Mr. Lee was blessed with a materialized chain. The programme concluded with Bhajans and Mangala Arathi.