Sports took precedence over everything else when the new week dawned on the 11th January morning in Prasanthi Nilayam. Sports in Prasanthi earns a special distinction with its lofty goals rather than remaining to be a mere physical drill with worldly competitive spirit. It starts with bending the body, mending the mind to end the senses to realize the ultimate goal.
Deviating from the normal practice, this year the meet had its scheduled beginning at 9:30 am when Bhagawan was ushered into the venue, Vidyagiri Stadium, escorted by an array of bikers from all the three campuses, the brass band from the Anantapur Campus, the University brass band from Prasanthi Nilayam, flag-bearing squad and a group of boys on horses.
Four presentations of fifty minute each by Brindavan, Prasanthi Nilayam in the morning and the Primary School and Anantapur in the evening had the thrills and frills of a sporting extravaganza. While each and every student participant made his or her best of effort to excel, the month long dedicated all-out effort was reaching its climax, finally earning the most coveted of all prizes, the smile from Beloved Mother Sai!
Brindavan Campus came up with a variety of performance starting with a cultural presentation titled, “Dance – Celebration of the Advent”. This presentation was tagged to the ensuing 85th year of His Divine Advent that had a range of colourful display from the vast Indian culture. Daredevilry on motorbikes followed by equestrian events were the highlight of the session wherein students with short training stints were seen attempting ambitious heights, all with ease, making Divine Mother proud of His children.
All-round talents of the students came to the fore when Prasanthi Nilayam took the centre stage with ‘their’ tantalising show of artistry and daredevilry for the final show during the morning session.
Prasanthi has the unique distinction of bringing out stunning master-piece structures every year during the sports meet. Continuing with the tradition, this year, they had a gigantic golden-hued 35 ft. Karthikeya Structure made out of iron paper mesh and thermocoal. It was stunningly awesome looking like a monolith carved beautifully from a single block of stone.
Sports in real terms demands Sporting Spirit with team effort, co-ordination, co-operation and greater harmony. This structure of precisely 34.5 ft height that was made in ten days with thirty students pledging their might on the same, symbolizes bold instincts of the student fraternity to take up the challenge with greater team spirit.
Starting with synchronized dance movements forming waves, the show moved on to trampoline basketball show with everyone vying to basket in presence of their Beloved Mother Sai. Skate jumping over a Maruti van, gymnastic display, aerobics on Roman Ring, “Chairobatics”, an innovative item with chairs, balancing of huge flags to the accompaniment of rhythmic beats on Chinese Drums with kites zooming in the air in the background were some of the delectable feats before winding up with daredevil jeep stunts.
It rained colours when the tiny tots from the Primary School took the stage in the afternoon session. With riot of colours marking the dress-code with distinction, tender but aesthetic steps dancing to the tune of soothing music, the show was nothing short of spectacular receiving round of applause from one and all though the real remark, words of acclaim from the real “Master of Ceremony”, came bit later during the valedictory function.
The Anantapur Campus for women that followed last had feats on unicycles, a difficult task compared to motorbikes where the advantage of speed comes as a blessing, balancing of dumbbell with legs and hands, rotating it with dexterity, stunts on bicycles, rotating hoops of various sizes passing them with precision were some of the other items in display before winding up with their final formation for the song, Sai Maa Praanama… (Sai is our life-breath) that reverberated the entire stadium with devotional fervour in the beautiful twilight.
The next day found Bhagawan visiting the Sri Sathya Sai International Centre for Sports – Indoor Stadium blessing the students, pepping their spirits up watching their gymnastic display, friendly basketball and volleyball matches involving both Prasanthi Nilayam and Brindavan Campuses. Dimosthenis Tampakos, Olympian gymnast from Greece was also present who was coaching the students on various gymnastic drills. The fledging Band from Brindavan got their first opportunity to perform in His Divine Presence while a group of dancers danced to the tune of famous Oscar Winning number “Jai Ho…” .
Three days from the fixed schedule on 11th January, 14th January is Makara Sankranthi when the Sun enters Makara Rasi (Tropic of Capricorn), signifies the onset of Uttarayana, the auspicious time. And over the years this day has been marked for the Valedictory function of the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet.
The highlight was as expected, yet another continuous round of applause for the Tiny Tots from Primary School. Bhagawan asked the Vice Chancellor, at the end of his speech, to announce His special words of appreciation for the spectacular performance of the primary school students and they were privileged to make a beeline to The Lord onstage to receive special gifts directly from His hands.
Introductory speech by Mr. Sanjay Sahni, Principal, Brindavan Campus was followed by the customary speech by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Vishwanath Pandit. This was followed by the Prize distribution to all the campuses starting with Primary School. A special memento, a huge framed photo of Bhagawan was awarded to the Primary School as a special gesture for its spectacular show. A total of 88 gold and 64 silver medals along with certificates were blessed by Bhagawan after which the tiny tots formed the beeline to receive special gifts directly from the hands of the Divine.
Three speeches by three senior faculty members followed. Dr. Pallav Kumar Baruah from the Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science of Prasanthi Nilayam Campus was followed by Dr. Shiv Shankar Sai, Warden of Senior Boys’ Hostel and Head of Department for Physics. The last speaker was Dr. T. Ravi Kumar, Reader in Dept. of Chemistry, Brindavan Campus.
Sports and Cultural Meet scheduled on the 11th January does not end with the day’s grand events at the Vidyagiri Stadium. Cultural spectacle continues in the following days with the campuses coming up with drama presentations competing themselves to excel with their best in bringing another smile on Beloved Bhagawan’s face.
Mrithyunjaya, the tale of immortality was the theme chosen by the senior students of Prasanthi Nilayam campus. The presentation was a depiction of true devotion and surrender of two of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva - Ravana and Markandeya bringing alive anecdotes from the lives of these illustrious devotees. While Ravana, the epitome of ego and arrogance at one end and unflinching devotion to Lord Shiva at the other end sought perpetuality of his ego, Markandeya with his unsullied devotion attained immortality with his pure love for the Lord.
Earlier on the 13 January evening, boys from the Brindavan Campus presented a drama entitled “Bhakta Tukaram”. The drama attempted to depict the life of Sant Tukaram as visualised by innovative thinkers. Tukaram’s unflinching devotion, trials and tribulations meted out to him by many and the Divine Guidance he received from His chosen deity Vittala, all were depicted with elan with lots of devotional fervour.
The three days, 13th, 14th and 15th found the three Brass Bands escorting the Divinity to Sai Kulwant Hall. While it was their maiden band escort for the Brindavan Boys, the fledging brass band from the campus, for Prasanthi Nilayam, it was their customary escort on the Valedictory Function and on 15th, Anantapur took their turn to escort Bhagawan to and fro…Bhagawan chose to interact with the girls for quite some time upon reaching the Yajur Mandiram.
On the occasion of the 9th anniversary of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield, Bangalore, a big group of staffers from the hospitals came over to Prasanthi Nilayam on Sunday to celebrate the grand occasion in the immediate Divine Presence. The Institution that was thrown open to the public on 19th January 2001 is completing nine years of yeomen service two days from now, on 19th January 2010.
Commemorating the occasion the staffers from the hospital had a garland of devotional songs followed by a stint of bhajans, by both men and women in the lead, to conclude with three inspiring speeches by Dr. AS Hegde, Director, Chairman Department of Neurosciences, Dr.Voleti Choudary, Chairman Department of Cardiac Sciences and Dr.Kolli Chalam, HOD Department of Anaesthesiology.
Mr. Shivraj Patil, formerly Lok Sabha Speaker and Union Home MInister, newly appointed Governor of West Bengal was in Prasanthi Nilayam on Sunday seeking Divine Blessings of Bhagawan.