Music Programme and a skit entitled, 'Bhakth Ramadas'
April 12 & 14, 2008
As is the wont, this year too both Tamil New Year and Vishu fell on successive days. A number of buses carrying devotees from the two adjoining States started arriving right from 11th April 2008. Sai Kulwant Hall and its precincts were filled with huge concourse of devotees. The Hall was tastefully decorated for the two festivals. Vishu celebrations began on the evening of 12th April 2008. Bhagawan delighted everyone present as He was wheeled into the Hall on a sofa this evening at 5 p.m.
Presentation of Devotional Songs by Bal Vikas children of Kerala
After He came to the dais, Bal Vikas children from Kerala presented a bouquet of devotional songs. They started their presentation with the song, Vandeham Gananayakam (salutations to Ganesh, the leader of Ganas) and followed it with a song on the efficacy of chanting of Narayana’s name, one song after the other captivated everybody attention. Chinni Krishna Muralidhara (child Krishna who plays on the flute), the next song described Krishna’s childhood pranks and His Leelas (divine play), the One who attracts everyone with His beautiful form. Their collection of devotional songs ended with Anandam Ide, Paramanandam Ide, Brahmanandam Ide (this is bliss, this is supreme bliss, this is divine bliss). On Bhagawan’s command, they started Bhajans, after a few Bhajans, the students of the University took over from them. The evening programme came to a close with Arati to Bhagawan at 6 p.m.
Vishu is a new year festival held in the state of Kerala (and adjoining areas of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu). This occasion signifies the Sun's transit to the zodiac Mesha Mesha Raasi as per Indian astrological calculations. Vishu is also considered as the harvest festival of Kerala and thus the importance of this day to all Malayalees regardless of their religion or sect.
The festival is marked with offerings to the divine called Vishukanni. The offerings consists of a ritual arrangement in the puja room of auspicious articles like rice, linen, cucumber, betel leaves, mirror, holy text and coins in a bell metal vessel called uruli. A lighted bell metal lamp called nilavilakku is also placed alongside. This arrangement is completed by the women of the house during the previous night. On the day of Vishu, it is a custom to wake up at dawn and go to the puja room with the eyes closed so that the first thing a person sees is the Vishukanni. People wear new clothes for the occasion and the elders in the family distribute tokens of money to the children, servants and tenants. These tokens are called Vishukkaineetam and are usually in the form of coins. People carry out this custom believing that in this way, their children would be blessed with prosperity in the future. Vishu is considered to be a day of feasting, wherein the edibles consist of roughly equal proportions of salt, sweet, sour and bitter items. Feast items include Veppampoorasam (a bitter preparation of neem) and Mampazhapachadi (a sour mango soup).
Vishu Celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam
Sai Kulwant had a touch of Kerala in the form of Thoranams made from tender coconut leaves and banners wishing people a happy Vishu. This day - 14th April, also happens to be the festival of Sri Rama Navami. As Bhagawan entered the Hall at 4.45 p.m., a Panchavadyam troupe heralded Bhagawan’s arrival by playing bugle. Again Bhagawan was wheeled into the Hall in a sofa. His compassion knows no bounds. One could see devotees craning their necks to have a glimpse of their dear Lord.
Bhakta Ramdas: A Drama by the Sai Youth of Kerala
This evening the Sai Youth of Kerala presented a drama “Bhakta Ramdas” based on the life of Bhadrachalam Ramdas. The drama opens with the statement, “There is nobody more fortunate than Hanuman who had the opportunity to serve Rama.” Ramdas pines for Lord Rama. He feels that he is not so fortunate as Guha or Sugriva who had the opportunity to serve Rama.
The drama was interspersed with many songs on Sri Rama, the first being Bhagawan’s composition Rama Kodanda Rama ... (Rama who wields the bow), then Rama Neela Meghashyama (Rama’s form is in the colour of blue sky), Bhadrachalam Ramdas’ composition O Rama Ne Namam Entho Ruchi Ra …(Oh Rama! Your name is full of sweetness).
When Ramdas sees the dilapidated condition of the Rama temple at Bhadrachalam, he feels sad and decides to renovate the temple. He needs cash to the tune of 8 lakh varahas (unit of currency prevalent in those days). Ramdas uses the funds he had collected as tax for this purpose.
The king of the land comes to know of it and orders for Ramdas’ incarceration. The king stipulates a condition to Ramdas to remit the 8 lakh varahas within a period of 3 days, lest he will be decapitated. God is Bhakta Paradhina (if a person trusts Me and leaves everything to Me, I will never let him fall). Sri Rama and Lakshmana disguise themselves as Ramoji and Lakshmoji and enter the chambers of the king. The king is surprised as to how they could enter his chambers. They say to the king that they work for Ramdas. Sri Rama remits 8 lakh varahas and asks for the receipt from the king. The king at first gets angry, but does not feel like reprimanding them because something in him tells that they are divine, and feels compelled to accept the money.
Meanwhile, Ramdas pleads with the Lord saying, “Why have You forsaken me? Do I lack devotion? Have I committed any mistake?” Suddenly, Ramdas finds the receipt of remittance in the prison. The king himself comes to the cell and asks for pardon from Ramdas for torturing him. He narrates all that happened to Ramdas. Ramdas tells the king that it was his good fortune he had the Darshan of Lord Rama. Even he was not so fortunate to have His Darshan, Ramdas avers.
The drama concludes with the song, “Ram Ram Ram Sita Ram Ram Ram”. Then a Sai Youth comes to the centre stage and declares, “Ramdas felt sad that he was not born during Guha or Sugriva’s time, but we are fortunate to be born during the time of this Avatar.”
Bhagawan materialised a chain for the youth who played the role of Bhadrachalam Ramdas. Bhagawan went amidst them and gave them a photo session. He also distributed clothes to all the participants with His Divine Hands. The entire cast was in tears at Bhagawan’s compassion. He even asked them to sing a Bhajan. Prasadam was distributed to all the devotees. Arati was offered to Bhagawan at 6.40 p.m. Thus, concluded the glorious Vishu and Sri Rama Navami celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam.