As always, this year too, the festival of Onam was celebrated with grandeur and gaiety at Prasanthi Nilayam in the Divine Presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This sacred festival marks the occasion when the mighty Emperor Bali performed the supreme act of surrender to Lord Vamana, the Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. The legend goes that Lord Vamana, disguised as a little Brahmin, asked Bali for just three paces of land. But soon He assumed a gigantic size, and with His first two paces covered the earth and the heavens and asked Bali for the third step. And Bali, who would never go back on his word, offered his own head for the Lord to place His Feet on, and thus attained liberation. However, he prayed to Vamana for one last boon – once every year Emperor Bali wished to see his beloved subjects. This day, when Emperor Mahabali comes to visit his people, is celebrated as Onam by the people of Kerala.
"Krishna Kripa Sagaram", Dance Drama by Balvikas Children of Calicut and Malappuram Districts
August 25, 2007
The celebrations commenced on 25th evening with a drama by the Balvikas students from Calicut entitled ‘Krishna Kripa’. The drama eulogized the love and compassion of Lord Sri Krishna for His childhood friend Sudhama. After having lived a life of abject poverty, when Sudhama goes to meet Krishna to seek His favour, he is so overwhelmed by the Divine love that he forgets the very purpose of his visit. But when Sudhama returns home, he sees a grand palace in place of his humble hut, and his wife and children are dressed in regal attire. Then he realises that his beloved friend Sri Krishna had fulfilled his wishes unasked. At the end of the drama, Bhagawan materialized a gold chain for the student who played the role of Sudhama and granted photos to all the participants. Thereafter, there were Bhajans by the youth of Kerala. Bhagawan retired to His residence at 5.15 p.m.
August 26, 2007
On 26th evening, there was a rendition of devotional songs by the famous Malayali playback singer Smt. Ambili. She had the audience immersed in her music for close to half an hour with many popular songs like “Yenna Tavam Seidhanai”, “Bho Shambho”. Following this, there was a Carnatic vocal recital by Sri Ranganath Sharma. Bhagawan then continued the musical treat by asking Shri Veerabhadraiah, a telugu professor in the Sri Sathya Sai university to give a performance in the Veena.
"Saint Tyagaraja ", Skit by Sri Sai Vidya Vihar, Aluva
August 27, 2007
On the morning of 27th, Bhagawan arrived in Sai Kulwant Hall at 8.30 a.m. and granted Darshan to the eager multitudes. Thereafter there were Bhajans and Arati. In the evening, the students of Sri Sai Vidya Vihar, Alwaye presented a drama on the life of saint composer Sri Thyagaraja. The main theme of the presentation was that allegiance to the Divine is our highest duty. While Thayagaraja’s elder brother urged to him to use his musical talents to win riches and fame and the patronage of the ruler of Tanjore, he spurns all these as being a travesty of his devotion to Lord Rama. The enraged brother takes away the idol of Lord Rama that Thyagaraja had installed and worshipped at his home, and throws it into the waters of the River Kaveri. Thyagaraja is plunged into agony at this separation from the Lord. In answer to his ardent prayers, Lord Rama reveals to him the location of the idol. Thyagaraja joyfully retrieves the idol and breaks ecstatically into song, “Kanugontini Shri Ramuni Nedu” (I have found Shri Rama today!) in Bilahari Ragam. Having chosen the saintly life, he becomes dependent on the Lord for his daily bread even having to go hungry on some days. On one such day, three pilgrims come visiting, two brothers accompanied by their servant. Custom dictated that Thyagaraja offer his hospitality to these pilgrims, but with not even a morsel to feed his own family how could he honour his guests. He confesses this helplessly to his guests, but they comfort him saying that they had brought their own food. The servant serves them all a sumptuous meal. After the guests leave, Thyagaraja is filled with gratitude to Lord Rama. Even as he prays in front of the idol, it is revealed to him that the guests who had visited him that day were none other than Lord Rama, his brother Lakshmana and Lord Hanuman come to remove the suffering of his family. Thus his every need was taken care of by Lord Rama Himself as Thyagaraja had completely surrendered himself to Him. His life of devotion is crowned by merger with the Lord at the end of his earthly sojourn. The drama, interspersed with many soulful songs composed by Thyagaraja, was a veritable treat to music lovers. The dialogues, costumes and acting were excellent. The drama highlighted not only the musical genius of Thyagaraja, but also his intense and steadfast devotion to Lord Rama. At the end of the drama, Bhagawan granted photographs and distributed clothes to all the participants. This was followed by Bhajans by Balvikas students from Kerala.
"Aum Namah Shivayah ", Skit by Balvikas Children
August 28, 2007
28th evening witnessed a musical presentation based on two incidents from the Shiva Purana (collection of mythological stories related to Lord Shiva) by the students of Balvikas from Wayanad, entitled ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. The first one was the story of Markandeya who was destined to die at the age of sixteen but by the virtue of his devotion changed his fate and became immortal. The second episode depicted the vanquishing of Daksha. The presentation was characterized by well choreographed dances, pleasing music and colourful costumes. The day’s programme concluded with Bhajans and Arati.