Sri Sathya Sai World Youth Festival – Day 1
On the morning of 12th July 2016, the inaugural ceremony for the Sri Sathya Sai World Youth Festival was held in the Sai Kulwant Hall in Prasanthi Nilayam. The 3-day festival from 12th to 14th July 2016 drew about 3,000 delegates from more than 70 countries. The youth have gathered in Puttaparthi from all corners of the world to celebrate the eternal joy of being a Sri Sathya Sai Youth and to reflect on the festival theme: Love is the Source, Love is the Path and Love is the Goal. The event started with a colorful procession of youth delegates bearings flags of their countries.
In his inaugural address, Dr. Shivendra Kumar, International Youth Coordinator of the SSSIO, enthusiastically reminded all delegates of the good fortune of being a Sri Sathya Sai Youth. He set out the four objectives of the festival, namely: to celebrate the joy of knowing Sri Sathya Sai Baba at a young age; to celebrate His life and teachings; to preserve His message through new initiatives; and to interact with elders of the organization and learn and grow. He said that over 320 volunteers have been working tirelessly over the past 6 months to successfully bring this festival to life.
In his address to delegates, Dr Narendranath Reddy, Chairman of the Prasanthi Council, commended the Sri Sathya Sai Youth for putting together a unique program that is of the youth, for the youth, and by the youth. He stated that this is the first youth festival which incorporates athletic, artistic and creative components. He reiterated Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s divine instructions to the youth to follow the four variations of ABC’s - Always be Courageous, Always be Compassionate, Always be Calm and Always be Cheerful.
Mr. Nimish Pandya, All India President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation of India elaborated on the theme and stated that the true qualities of a Sri Sathya Sai Youth are manifestation of Self-Confidence and knowing that Sri Sathya Sai Baba is our only friend. Mr. Pandya reminded all Sri Sathya Sai Youth that the greatest adventure they should embark on is to conquer the mind through love and service.
Thereafter, Sri Sathya Sai Youth from Venezuela offered a beautiful melodic outpouring of love through a newly written song titled Mi Destino, which means My Destination.
The Chief Guest, the Honorable Sri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, and New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, then addressed the august assembly. He drew attention to Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s quintessential message that the mind sees separateness but Love sees unity and he said there is no greater happiness than making a difference to somebody who is less privileged than oneself. He shared his belief that these ideals can change the world.
A video excerpt of Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s discourse was then screened, reminding all that truth is one and same for the whole world. Further, the best way to love God is through the highest form of sadhana - by transforming love into service. The morning session ended with Bhajans and Mangala Arathi.
Later in the morning, at the Exhibition Hall inside the ashram, an exhibition titled Ready, Steady… Goal was inaugurated in the presence of senior leaders of the organization and dignitaries.
After a blissful morning programme, the first afternoon session of the Sri Sathya Sai World Youth Festival began in the Poornachandra Auditorium. The session emphasised connecting to the powerhouse within to access love. An interactive and entertaining game show encouraged youth to refresh their knowledge on the life, work and teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
RadioSai representatives then discussed the importance of connecting with God. Both speakers reflected on the yearning for this connection and the priority that one should give to God’s work, which ultimately determines the level of closeness with God.
The evening programme in Sai Kulwant Hall consisted of three speakers and a multicultural musical dance presentation. Ms. Olga Baranova from Russia shared her experiences of following Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings and having unconditional faith in Him. Sri Hari Ranjan Rao, an Indian youth, inspired the global youth and said that there will always be an opportunity for them to contribute to society and their respective countries. He encouraged the youth to declare themselves as Sai’s soldiers and be ideal examples to fellow citizens.
The third speaker was a very special Guest Speaker, Sri V V S Laxman, the legendary Indian cricketer, recipient of the Padma Shri award, and ardent devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He shared the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically emphasising detachment from the results of one’s effort and the importance of being guided by one’s inner voice. His personal, loving anecdotes from his interactions with Baba touched the hearts of the audience and drew applause.
Day 1 of the Sri Sathya Sai World Youth Festival concluded with a vibrant and artistic cultural performance titled, Dancing to the Divine Rhythm – the Sai Way. Youth from UAE, Nepal, Mauritius, Indonesia, Fiji and other states of India including Rajasthan, Manipur, Gujrat and Punjab thrilled the audience with their artistic renditions and their energy.
The exhibition, Ready… Steady… Goal! held in parallel, includes Puttaparthi’s Got Talent, a youth talent competition of musical performances by a Mexican girl choir, Indian percussionists and other musical performances.
Photo gallery (click to enlarge)