Ganesh Chaturthi, the festival that adorns a prime spot in Prasanthi Festive Calendar culminated in Prasanthi Nilayam on 3rd September afternoon with scores of Ganeshas retreating to the immersion ghat, in a colourful ceremony marked with religious exuberance.
Prasanthi has been following the tradition of immersion on the third day for a along time, as was set by Beloved Bhagawan.
The procession that started from various Prasanthi locations, mainly from the hostels of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and Schools arrived at the venue, Sai Kulwant Hall at 1610 hrs. By the entry of the last entrant, it was time for Vedam to begin. Shortly after Veda chanting began, the processionists moved forward, towards the Sanctum Sanctorum, going for a circumambulation of the Mandir.
The fleet of Ganeshas were arrayed, all in varied fanciful shapes and decor, colourfully adorned, ready to salute the Lord, Beloved Bhagawan in the Sanctum Sanctorum. The fleet that stretched from the Yajur Mandiram end to the East Prasanthi end, further projecting towards the south from both the ends, contained twenty-five Ganeshas representating hostels mainly, and various other sister institutions of Prasanthi.
After the circumambulation, that took fifteen minutes, the students from the Higher Secondary School presented a ceremonial dance, invoking Ganesha to come back next year.
Soon it was time for the Ganeshas to retreat. As one after one each batch brought its respective Ganesha to the Sanctum Sanctorum, the Chief Priest offered Mangala Arathi to each individual Ganesha before The Lord retreated towards the immersion ghat. The whole procession concluded at 1715 hrs. Throughout the session, Sai Kulwant Hall was resounding in loud chanting and bhajans as the colourful pageantry of Ganesha ruled the roost for the entire session.
This is the occasion when Prasanthi showcases Ganeshas in varied theme, displaying colourful innovative ideas with the enthusiastic devoted bunch of students putting their best to impress upon The Over Lord of Prasanthi. This year too, like previous years, the procession had all the variety of craftsmanship, representing greater spiritual truths of yore to modern innovative ideas. Some of them were the Phoenix Bird Ganesha, Garuda Vahana Ganesha, Helicopter Ganesha, Swan Ganesha by the tiny tots from the Primary School, Garden Ganesha by the tiny tots of Smt. Easwaramma English Medium School, Butterfly Ganesha etc...The whole programme was compeered by the students detailing structures and their, inner significance.
Bhajans continued for the next 45 minutes and Mangala Arathi was offered at 1800 hrs. Prasadam was distributed to the entire assemblage.
Ganesh Chaturthi - 1st September:
Thousands of devotees Thursday welcomed their favourite deity with fervour and gaiety to the precincts of Prasanthi and Puttaparthi in general as the auspicious Ganesh Chaturthi festival kicked off with much religious fervour in the hallowed spiritual township.
Vinayaka Chaturthi, the festival that received its fullest dues over the years in the most inspiring physical presence of Beloved Bhagawan has come again and Prasanthi turned lively once again with the ever enthusiastic students taking the lead. ..And with them keeping her golden memories alive, Prasanthi woke up on the auspicious morning tuned to the Lord of remover of all obstacles, readying herself to celebrate the auspicious day.
The programme was as usual a students' affair, with the Institute students offering a string of hymns attributed to Lord Ganesha. Singing special hymns propitiating the Lord, Who is hailed as 'Prathama Vandana', the students regaled the audience with devotional music for the next forty-five minutes. The numbers included Ganashtakam, Ganapathi
Strothram, Ganesha Pancharatham and a couple of Carnatic pieces.
The musical offering had interludes of commentary in English and Hindi, alternatively, propitiating the Lord of The Day. Gajavadana Karunasadana Sri Shankara Bala Lambodhara Sundara in Ragam Sri Ranjani Talam: Adi Papanasam Sivan Pallavi was sung with elan and expertise, well appreciated by loud applause by one and all in the morning assembly. After the 45 minutes programme, students from Prasanthi Nilayam and Anantapur Campus sang bhajans for the next fifteen minutes before Mangala Arathi was offered at 0930 hrs.
This is the day Ganesha fills over in Prasanthi, with various Institutions installing
separate Ganeshas in their premises, worshipping the deity for the next three days, before taking Him out for immersion on the third afternoon. It is going to be Ganesha all over in Prasanthi Nilayam for the next few days. As Bhagawan would often repeat in His Divine Discourses, Ganesha is the Lord without any OverLord and Prasanthi experiences the Mighty Lord's 'presence' with the beginning of the auspicious festivity, that is celebrated with great religious fervour, pomp and show in many other parts of India as well.
In the evening,Soul-stirring music rent the air this evening in Prasanthi as students continued from where they stopped in the morning offering salutations to Lord Ganesha.
After a wonderful morning session,students returned to Mandir spirited and charged up, after installing and worshipping their favourite Ganesha kick-starting the three day festivity (three day in Prasanthi Nilayam as has been scheduled by Bhagawan over the years). Continuing with the offering from the morning, students, musical batch from Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music, Prasanthi Nilayam offered a programme entitled, "Naada Brahmarpanam", an apt offering to the Lord Who is verily Naada Swarupa Himself!
Following the often styled pattern of songs interlaced with commentary, in English, Hindi and Telugu, the talented musical college bunch produced some rare gems of musical excellence, mesmerising the audience in musical rhapsody. Of the six songs rendered, a Hindustani number "Vighna Vinashaka..." sung with excellent tonal variations, followed by the often heard Muthu Swami Dikshitar composition, "Mahaganapatim Manasa Smaraami..., Raktha Ganapathim Bhaje, another Muthu Swami Dikshitar composition in Ragam Mohana, Talam Adi, all Carnatic, were notable and received with appreciating applause by the audience.
These Prasanthi sessions vouchsafe the unparalleled nurturing of the innate talent of student folk in Prasanthi institutions, nurtured by none other than Beloved Bhagawan Himself, bringing forth the best in them, aptly offered back at His Divine Lotus Feet, with full or reverence and gratitude.
At the end of the programme the 'musical bunch' moved forward to the Sanctum Sanctorum, offering loving gratitude to Beloved Bhagawan.
The forty-five minute programme was followed by a couple of bhajans by boys and girls before winding up with the Thursday Special Bhajan, in Beloved Bhagawan's Own Voice, "Prema Muditha Manase Kaho Rama Rama Ram...", an apt finale to a wonderfully auspicious day in Prasanthi Nilayam.
Prasadam was distributed to the entire assemblage before Arathi offering at 1800 hrs.