Annual Sports and Cultural Meet of Sri Sathya Sai University
January 11, 2009
Victory and defeat are the two sides of the same coin. Victory comes out of defeat and defeat can be turned into victory. These two sides of the same coin are moments that become synonymous with the game called life. Perfected under the tutelage of Bhagawan with value oriented education, the students from Sri Sathya Sai University had in display the greater spirit of sports with a blend of cultural and ethical presentations on the 11th January at the Sri Sathya Sai Vidyagiri Stadium on the occasion of Annual Sports and Cultural Meet – 2009 of the University attended by a vast concourse of devotees.
Sports has earned a permanent place in the Prasanthi Calendar that every year 11th January is celebrated as Sports and Cultural Meet in the Divine presence of Bhagawan, the Divine Chancellor. Over the years, thousands of parents and numerous devotees from all over the world have witnessed this January’s spectacle grandeur in Prasanthi Nilayam. Though the competitive events within each campus completes before the fixture of this day, this day stands specially marked as a day of great celebration of sportsmanship, harmony, patience and perseverance, the finest of qualities that have been heard echoing from the guardian hills of this spiritual township, reverberating through times to the Sai Fraternity all over the world. A striking feature of this annual event is the variations in the programmes from year to year and the enthusiasm with which the students vie with one another in offering them at His Lotus Feet to make Him proud and happy.
Braving chill weather thousands of devotees started streaming into the stadium from the early hours, well in advance of the scheduled hour of inauguration. Riot of colours, of course with huge white patches in between depicting the characteristic prasanthi brand, filled the galleries, with men and women from various parts of the country and the world over filling the seats awaiting His Divine arrival.
As the scheduled hour fast approached, the stadium was abuzz with enthusiasm as final preparations for the kick-off was gaining momentum. The vast amphitheatre, well guarded by guardian deities on the hillock on one side, joined by the hundreds and thousands of spectators on the other end, was a perfect combine of hues of orderly attraction, as students from the three campuses took positions, aligned in order to formally welcome the Divine Chancellor.
Dressed in shining white, showering His benedictory smile on the vast concourse of devotees and students, Bhagawan arrived at the Vidyagiri Stadium just after 8:20 a.m. in a regal procession lead by the University Band. Preceded by four pairs of motorcyclists, both boys and girls from the University, Bhagawan was accorded a grand welcome, lead by the Brass Band from the Anantapur Campus, followed by the Band from Prasanthi Nilayam Campus for Men. Upon crossing the newly built gigantic arch on the way to Shanti Vedika, the Anantapur Band offered guard of honour to the Lord that was followed by the special flag squad with a canopy of flags representing different houses.
Upon alighting at the dais, Bhagawan was received by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Vishwanath Pandit, followed by the Registrar of the University, Principals and Wardens from the three campuses and other officials. Joining scores of dignitaries on the dais, Bhagawan lit the lamp formally inaugurating the Meet.Dressed in a disciplined, distinguished fashion, marching past Shantivedika, the dais, saluting the Divine Chancellor is one of the highest privileges bestowed upon the students of Sathya Sai University. This march past used to be an orderly attraction of this sporting extravaganza wherein hundreds and thousands of students representing the three campuses, Prasanthi Nilayam and Brindavan for men and Anantapur for women and the higher secondary and primary wings of the school dressed in special uniforms marching past the dais saluting the Divine Chancellor. As different houses from the campus moved in distinctive squads, the squad leader dips the flag saluting the Chancellor, followed by the entire squad turning their heads to the right as a mark of respect to the Chancellor, resuming their march once they pass the dais.
As the leader dipped the flag saluting Bhagawan, the Chancellor of the Institute, the students turned their heads to the right as a mark of respect to Bhagawan, and resumed their march straight after passing the stage. Every group did likewise, all marching in fine order. The first to approach the dais was the tiny tots, boys and girls separate, from the Primary School, followed by the Higher Secondary Wing, both girls and boys, joined by the Anantapur Campus, Girls from the Sathya Sai Junior College, Anantapur, while students of the Brindavan and Prasanthi Nilayam campuses brought up the rear.
The University Flag was hoisted by Bhagawan followed by lighting the "Olympic" torch. Symbolically signifying the greater harmony, love and peace, Bhagawan released two white pigeons and let loose a bunch of colourful balloons which floated up into the air. The "Olympic" torch was carried by relays of pairs of runners to the top of Vidyagiri Hill where the "Olympic" flame was lit. The urn on the hill was guarded by two students in shining red and white uniforms, who received the torch from the games mascot Lion that moved through a connecting string covering the hillock.
Then began a programme of exhibition items by students of the participating campuses, which revealed not only their proficiency in sporting events but their capacity to innovate and produce remarkable ensembles calling for superb team work and high aesthetic imagination.
First to perform was the Prasanthi Nilayam campus along with the higher secondary school, Prasanthi Nilayam. Paying obeisance to the Divine Chancellor, motivation imparted by Bhagawan, they rode a huge golden eagle to the dais, symbolically signifying invisible force that lifts man into souring heights in life, the power of vision. …and they had set eagle heights for their allotted session in the Divine Presence.
With a steady mind and a healthy body no task is daunting, seems to be the message the higher secondary students had in store beginning their display. Dressed in colourful combination, set in a three-tier stage, these little children had a set of yoga postures exhibiting complete control and coordination of body and mind. Next two come was a set of trampolinists vying to conquer greater heights, in a rare skill of artistry in action leaping over two giant automobiles, all with successful attempts. Twenty colourful riders on electric scootys, crossing each other with four simultaneous scissor crossing, each linked with one another to form a interleaving pattern of colour combine was the item next aptly termed “Auto-Chromatix”. Displaying different patterns with magnificent balance, riding skills with unity in diversity adding a flavour for aesthetic sense, these riders became painters using their vehicles as brushes to paint beautiful colour combination of greater unity in the vast canvas of Vidyagiri amphitheatre. Synchronised ballet in the air with moon walkers daring dare devilry at 40 ft height on two giant rotating wheels was a breathtaking spectacle that came next. With the wheels gaining momentum, these moon walkers crossed hurdles one after one, displaying agility, bending to their knees, stretching their muscles, and finally almost being swept off their feet, exhibiting remarkable control of body and mind. “Rhythm of Life”, a fusion music display by an ensemble of innovated musicians using innocuously mundane items from daily lives to produce rhythmic beats with amazing synchronisation was the next attraction to follow. Progress in life could be a slow process, but perseverance places one on the pedestal of glory and this was the message in practical demonstration when a group of students attempted to ascend on multiple foot ladders, fully unsupported, with amazing balance, greater concentration and agility. What followed was an array of gymnastic display with stunning feats on mobile platforms, with circular motion on rolling wheels. Placing God at the centre of our lives all the ups and downs turn into a jolly play, the wheelers were seemingly reminding the spectators. Motor Bikes and devilry was not new to the meet as every year one or other campus comes up with innovative display on the moving wheels. The bikers from Prasanthi ignited their sparks paying obeisance to the Lord subsequently presenting a stunning display of amazing control and co-ordination. Synchronised ramp jump, gearing up with speed from opposing direction, amazing combinations symbolising co-operation and co-ordination in life all were on display before the curtain was down for the wonderful 50 minute offering by the Prasanthi Nilayam campus.
The Eternal in elements was the central theme of the dazzling colourful display by the Anantapur Campus organised on the backdrop of a gigantic Shivalinga and the holy mountain Kailasa. Through dance sequences starting with Lord Shiva’s exquisite celestial one, The Thandava, intertwining with commentary in between, the girls had in display the story of emergence of creation, the boundless cosmic universe. From the Thandava emerged the primal energy which in turn created the primordial sound, the Omkara. The Panchamahabhutas, the five elements had its origin from this primal energy and the emergence and their greater significance were displayed through colourful dancing combinations in the backdrop of the eternal, celestial Thandava. How man has leapt from the olden age to the modern day civilisation and how he could survive harmoniously with proper utilisation of elements gifted to him by mother nature were aptly displayed with colourful aesthetic combination on moving vehicles coupled with yogic postures, thematically relevant to each item, driving home the greater message of save earth, save life.
Beauty and grace, strength and valour, dexterity and sense of balance, discipline and devotion – the hallmark of students of Sathya Sai, were on display when the Brindavan campus took the centre stage with a veritable display showcasing synchronization of body and mind titled Sareera Maadhyam Kalu Dharma Saadhakam, meaning body is gifted to follow the path of righteousness.
Starting off with a dragon dance - a traditional dance in Chinese culture, the show moved on to lion dance, a rhythmic rhapsody that symbolises driving away inner evils in man. Displaying grit and determination coupled with daredevilry and aesthetic flavour ably assisted by a balanced mind, these colourful Lions from Brindavan danced to the tunes of lively beats offering obeisance to Bhagawan followed by breathtaking feats of pillar crossover on the jongs (special platforms) with amazing dexterity and perfection. Where the dragon’s pursuit of the pearl was symbolizing humanity’s untiring pursuit for perfection in life, wisdom, the Lions had unity and co-operation that brings success in societal entity. The last item to come was an array of martial arts, popular in the south Indian state of Kerala, especially Kalarippayattu, which is regarded as mother of all martial art forms. These gritty boys with valour, dedication and determination made this formidable task appeared a much easy one. Ankathari, an advanced Kalarippayattu form, normally meant for war training, involving metal weapons, sword and shield, and requires greater concentration was exhibited by these students with much limited training for a short time. This martial art that is aimed at developing strength, flexibility, balance and stamina includes jumps, low stances on the floor, brick breaking, circular sequences and kicks with the art of defence was exhibited with élan to the delight of Bhagawan and the audience. It is not physical prowess alone, it is physical prowess coupled with presence of mind that makes a warrior who can win the tough battles in life, said these martial artistes with their exhibition on this wondrous morning.
In the evening the stage was set for the grand finale and it was a scene of pageantry of colours with tiny tots from the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School ready with their stock of presentations. A beautiful backdrop with a galaxy of stars and planets and Bhagawan at its centre on the globe with the lettering Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu formed the setting for the dazzling display, eagerly awaited, in the evening session.
Bhagawan arrived at the stadium at 4.20 p.m. preceded by a convoy of escort motorbikes. As Bhagawan neared the dais, the students of Primary School offered a unique welcome to Bhagawan, parading somersault and acrobatic feats. Upon ascending the dais Bhagawan was offered a bouquet of love and devotion by the tiny tots from the Primary School. Chanting the name of Sai exonerates one from all sins and frees one from the cycle of rebirths was the message these tiny tots seemingly conveying through their beginning dance presentation. What followed was a riot of colours in the form of dances, balancing acts, floor exercises and gymnastics by the boys and girls students of the school to the tune of lilting music and songs. Little skaters from the school deserves a special mention as they crossed hurdles with ease and even jumped over a motorbike on their skates, before ending up with a basketball game, something which is not ordinary for their age group, but is achieved with faith, love and dedication to Bhagawan. There was also a delectable show of gymnastics on a semicircular structure. With their costumes sparkling against the setting sun, a group of girl students had in display undulating dance movements, and to add to the glitter they had rose-hued semicircular hand fans, a delectable feast to the aesthetically sentimental human eyes. The programme concluded with a grand formation of all the students holding aloft the lettering “Sai Maa we are Your loving children ever and ever forever”. At 5.25 p.m. Arati was offered to Bhagawan that marked the culmination of the Sports and Cultural Meet 2009.