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Then & Now
A day in Ashram

Report on Holi Celebrations in Prasanthi Nilayam

Holi Celebrations – Morning Programme

Holi, the festival of love and joy is not dedicated to any deity from the Hindu pantheon. The mythology does make inferences to Siva and Madana (the God of love) and how the meditating Siva destroyed Madana with his third eye, when Madana disguised himself as a nymph to disturb Him.

The legend usually associated with Holi revolves around the wicked king Hiranyakasipu whose son Prahlada was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. When the king tried to prevent his son from worshipping Lord Vishnu, with the aid of his sister Holika, who had a boon that made her immune to the effects of fire, his plan backfired and Prahlada escaped unscathed while Holika was burnt to death. Thus, Holi is the day of victory over the evil forces. The celebrations officially usher in spring.

Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Bihar and Jharkhand were fortunate to celebrate this festival in the year 2005 and this year too they were bestowed the blessed opportunity to celebrate Holi in the immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan. After Bhagawan granted Darshan to the Devotees assembled in the Hall, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Bihar and Jharkhand began their programme by expressing gratitude to Bhagawan through Navagraha Stuti (song in praise of the nine planets). What followed was a medley of different items – songs, dances and Qawali. The members of the organisation offered their salutations to Bhagawan on behalf of the people of Bihar and Jharkhand through a song, “You have always been showering Your Grace on us in abundance. Please give us the power to discriminate. May we all be of some service at thy Lotus Feet. Do forgive us for our shortcomings.” Another song ran thus: “He brings about transformation in the lives of people and shows them the path of righteous living. The truly devoted, shall surely be liberated.” “Sairam”, a song with dance gave a vivid picturisation of the Festival of Holi being celebrated in Prasanthi Nilayam. The programme ended on a high note with the song, “Tera ham par hai lakhaon upkar …” “Even if the whole world turns away from me, let me not leave Your doorstep. May I always have Your name on my lips. Oh Lord! Please accept our prayers.”

At the end of their performance, Bhagawan granted them the coveted opportunity of being photographed with Him.

Holi Celebrations – Evening Programme

Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Bihar and Jharkhand presented a magnificent play on the life of Bhakta Kavi (poet) Vidyapati in Sai Kulwant Hall on the evening of 15th March 2006. Outpourings of love and devotion of the poet for the Lord was well brought out in this play. A huge canvas of Lord Siva nestled between the snow-clad mountains with Poet Vidyapati worshipping the Siva Linga in the foreground was a perfect setting to the play.

Vidyapati was born in Mithilanchal of Bihar. He hailed from a Brahmin family and had tremendous inner confidence on his poetic and intellectual abilities. Vidyapati served Raja Shiv Singh as a darbari poet. His compositions equally voiced the inner thoughts of the king and the aspirations of the poorest in the society. He was by nature an emotional and highly devoted poet, who cherished the beauty of God’s creations in his poems.

Vidyapati was well-versed with the knowledge of Indian gods and goddesses. He had realised the oneness of Divinity in all. In his poems, he described Sankara and Vishnu as one and the same. Vidyapati lived and sanctified the sacred land of Bharat for about 90 years.

The play begins with the participants offering their Pranams to Bhagawan. Vidyapati is a great devotee of Lord Siva right from his childhood. The devotees in the Siva temple are amazed at Vidyapati’s Bhakti. Vidyapati explains to them clearly that sincere and intense prayer is the best way to attain true devotion. Lord Siva, pleased with Vidyapati’s devotion decides to serve him in his house as Ugna. As Vidyapati gets a call from Raja Shiv Singh, Vidyapati sets on his journey with his Sevak Ugna. In the course of the journey, Vidyapati feels very thirsty, but Ugna is not able to find water in the barren land. It is then that Ugna takes out water from his matted hair. Vidyapati recognises him as none other than the Lord Himself. Ugna takes a promise from Vidyapati not to reveal His identity to anyone. The moment that is done, the Lord disappears. They return home. Vidyapati’s wife gets very upset when Ugna does not return from the woods for a long time. In a fit of anger, she tries to beat Ugna. Vidyapati runs to the Lord’s rescue, but the Lord disappears. After this, Vidyapati prepares himself for Ganga Sevan. The palanquin bearers carry Vidyapati in a palanquin. They get fully exhausted on their way to the holy Ganges and leave him midway. Vidyapati prays to Mother Ganga to come to him. The holy Ganga changes her course and takes Vidyapati in her arms. The play ends with the Bhagawan’s assurance that if a Bhakta approaches Him with a pure heart, He will go to any extent to help Him.

There was a brief interlude in the play when Bhagawan called the lead actor, Vidyapati and materialised a ring for him. It was unprecedented, since it had never happened, the public address system was put off for this special moment and after that, the play again continued. At the end of the play, all the participants were given two types of Prasadam and Vibhuti Prasadam. Bhagawan also gave them the wonderful opportunity to be photographed with Him. It was really a special moment for the devotees from Bihar and Jharkhand when Bhagawan showered his bounteous love and joy on the occasion of festival of love and joy, Holi.