Chinese New Year Pilgrimage 2015
A total of close to 300 participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, Hongkong and Taiwan participated in this event this year. The theme chosen for the event was ‘Love & Selfless Service’, so as to commensurate with the theme of the forthcoming Tenth World Conference which will be held in conjunction with Swami’s 90th birthday in November 2015.
Day 1 (24/2/2015) Chinese New Year Cultural Program –
The programme commenced at 5.00pm with the lighting of the lamp, jointly by Dr VK Ravindran (Zonal Chairman) Billy Fong (Central Coordinator Zone 4.1), Bro. Danesh Vatwani (Deputy Central Coordinator Zone 4.1) and Bro. Capt Ong of Singapore. Children from countries in Zone 4 then offered traditional Chinese delicacies to Bhagawan. The melodious and uplifting chanting of sacred Buddhist and Kuan Yin hymns lead by devotees from Indonesia followed.
The first cultural program for the day was Gu Zheng, an ancient Chinese musical instrument, performed by the students of Nanyang Zhi Hui School in Medan.
Bro. Billy Fong, the coordinator of the Chinese New Year celebration in his welcoming address, compare the annual mass homeward migration of Chinese people with the Sai-Chinese coming back to their real home in Prashanti to be with Swami to celebrate Chinese New Year. He delved in brief details on the greater significance of Swami’s teachings on how we can practice love and overcome the obstacles towards experiencing and expanding love. As Love must `manifest into Selfless Service, he urges all participants to join the Grama Seva scheduled on the next day morning. He reiterate how Swami’s teachings on Love and Selfless Service can bond the people of India and China which are the two living ancient civilization for the good of mankind.
A colourful traditional Chinese dance – ‘Thousand Arms Kuan Yin’ – followed next. Rich with colour and aesthetic patterns with symbolic formations, the participating children from Indonesia won the hearts in the audience for their graceful offering.
A musical medley of Chinese and English songs/bhajans followed next. As the session progressed, Aum Mani Padme Hum, the six-syllabled Sanskrit Buddhist Mantra, familiar to Prasanthi reverberated through followed by Happy New Year compositions… as well as Prasanthi Bhajans by Chinese devotees.
Day 2 (25/2/2015) Grama Seva
After a short briefing infront of Block N6, about 200 participants were ferried by 10 mini buses to a poor village of 300 families located about 30 minutes from Prashanti Ashram. The convoy includes two trucks carrying 300 gift bags (20kg each) of dry rations which includes 18 types of food items.
As they arrived at village, the villagers welcomed them with a bhajan and the Chinese participants queue in line to each distribute a gift bag to each of the villagers.
Day 2 (25/2/2015)Chinese New Year Cultural Program
The programme commence at 5pm with an address by Dr. VK Ravindran, Chairman of Zone 4 of the Sathya Sai International Organisation. Reiterating the theme of CNY 2015, being Love and Selfless Service, Dr Ravindran further outlined the various service initiatives by the Organisation, serving the needy.
The congregation of devotees broke into loud applause when Dr Ravi delivered the inspiring news that the Indonesian Government has decided to incorporate human values into the mainstream school curriculum on the model of Sri Sathya Sai Educare.
Students from the Nanyang Zhi Hui School of Medan, Indonesia then performed the Angklong, an ancient Chinese musical instrument. They played two songs followed by a bhajan song, Ganesha Sharanam.
Justice (Ms) Isabella Chu, from Hong Kong then spoke about her transformative and inspirational journey to Sai. She was a Christian and a devotee since 2012. She narrated how Swami had taught and trained her to transform her work into His work.
The students of Nanyang Zhi Hui School, Medan, Indonesia came back with a beautiful dance offering entitled “Dances of Joy”.
Bhajans then continued with Mangala Aarathi.
Day 3 (26/2/2015) Chinese New Year Cultural Program
On the closing day of the three-day celebration of the Chinese New Year, devotees from Singapore presented a drama entitled “Change your Thoughts, Change your Life”.
Manikam, the owner of Manikam Chinese Restaurant, on Chinese New Year Day decided to cheat his customers with a view to pad his wallet. But, fate decreed otherwise and instead he found himself being cheated by the customers and then fined by health inspectors to add to his ruin.
At this stage a holy man teaches him through episodes from the lives of two souls saved from a life of sin by the grace of the Lord that of a thief transformed by Chaitanya Deva, and that of Pundalika, who initially neglects his parents, but has a change in heart to begin serving them, with such devotion that Lord Vittala does not mind having to wait, standing on a brick, to grant devotion to this exceptional devotee.
The story of the business minded restaurateur, who turned a new leaf and began to serve his community, was very inspiring and well depicted through some talented performances by the actors.
The programme concluded with Bhajans by Chinese devotees and Mangala Arati to Bhagawan.