Amidst an atmosphere of pure love, reverence and deep gratitude, the Sathya Sai International Organisation of South Africa hosted a moving tribute to beloved Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba at the Chatsworth Stadium in Durban on 30 April 2017.
This momentous day of thanksgiving commenced at 6:30am with a sanctifying ceremony that included a peace hawan, Vedam Chanting, traditional sounds of the Nadaswaram and a vibrant unity bhajan session. By this time more than 2000 devotees, adorned in their white attire and wearing radiant smiles on the faces, had already streamed into the stadium.
The official programme started with singing the South African National Anthem at 8:30 am. Mascots representing the different countries of the world as well as youth waving the country flags were dotted around the ground. Soon all eyes and attention were turned towards the starting of a spectacular parade. Leading the procession was flame torch symbolising the Lamp of Love, followed by a beautiful golden chariot displaying larger-than-life size images of loving Lord Sai and banners with His clarion call, “Love All Serve All” – which was also the theme of the event. Accompanying the golden chariot were members of Prashanti Council, SSIOSA and dignitaries. The procession also included Drum Majorettes from the Sathya Sai School Chatsworth. Swami’s most precious possession, his dear Balvikas children (Sai Spiritual Education classes) from around the country followed with a Values March that depicted the major religions of the world and their teachings, as well as the five human values which are the pillars of the SSIO. This was followed by the lighting of the candles, a yoga drill and release of hundreds of orange and white balloons.
With the official opening over, the programme commenced with a welcome from SSIOSA President, Dr Naven Govender, followed by inspiring messages by the Central Coordinator, Mr Allan Reddy, and Zonal Chair, Mr Ramesh Hathiramani. The event was graced with the presence of Prasanthi Council Chair Dr Narendranath Reddy, and Prasanthi Council members Dr William Harvey from the USA and Mr Leonardo Pablo Gutter from Argentina. In their talks they touched on their encounters with the Divine and the lasting legacy of Swami. The programme was also dotted with enthralling dramas and dance performed by youth and Balvikas.
Also included was an interfaith segment where members of the various religious communities paid tribute to Sathya Sai Baba. The Sufi and Christian group entertained the audience with music from their respective faiths. The Honourable Sibongiseni Maxwell Dhlomo, representing the Office of the Premier of KwaZulu Natal, was the guest speaker. He highlighted Bhagwan’s message and example of Love and Selfless service. SSIOSA’s own example of love, peace and selfless service was shared through Brother Bulelani Skhikhi, president of the Khayelisha Sathya Sai Centre in the Western Cape. His short but impactful address touched the hearts of all at the stadium and added to the inspiration shared by the previous speakers. The latter part of the programme witnessed an amazing display of devotion through bhajan and music. The golden voices of Prashanti Mandir singer, Koustubh Arun Pare and ardent bhakta Ravin Raj Gunasekar from Singapore, (both blessed to sing in the Divine presence on numerous occasions,) accompanied by the very talented National Music Team (NMT) transported the audience into a transcendental state with their Divine renditions. This was followed by a scintillating Symphony for Sai when the NMT again accompanied international artists Muthu Kumar Varadarajan (alumnus of SSIHL,) Flautist Ravichandra Kulur and South Africa’s Carnatic genius, Kathiegesan Pillay. Around 8000 devotees and guests who attended the event were witness to - and a part of - this expression of love and gratitude to Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. His instruments worked steadfastly in the background all the while witnessing His Divine hand at play in the proceedings of the day. As the Mangala-arathi was offered promptly at 5:30 PM a fitting tribute to the Master of All Masters concluded, leaving everyone satiated in Pure Divine Love.