Celebrating love and service Delegates from around the globe gathered at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh and participated in a two-day youth festival in July.
Words: Team Urban Vaastu
ABOUT 3,000 delegates from over 70 countries participated in the three-day Sathya Sai World Youth festival, held in Prasanthi Nilayam, the main ashram of Sathya Sai Baba, at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh between July 12 and 14.
Piyush Goyal, minister of state with independent charge for power, coal and new and renewable energy, was the chief guest at the festival. Goyal drew attention to Sathya Sai Baba’s quintessential message that the mind sees separateness, but love sees unity. He said there was 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.
The theme of the festival was: Love is the Source, Love is the Path and Love is the Goal. Dr Shivendra Kumar, international youth coordinator, Sathya Sai International Organisation, highlighted the objectives of the festival: to celebrate the joy of knowing 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 organisation.
He said over 320 volunteers had been working tirelessly over the past six months to successfully bring the festival to life.
Dr Narendranath Reddy, chairman of the Prasanthi Council, commended the Sathya Sai Youth for putting together a unique programme that has been “of the youth, for the youth, and by the youth.” He said this was the first youth festival which incorporates athletic, artistic and creative components.
Reddy reiterated Sai Baba’s 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.
Nimish Pandya, all-India president, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation of India said the true qualities of the members are a manifestation of self-confidence and “knowing that Sathya Sai Baba is our only friend.” He reminded the delegates that the greatest adventure they should embark on was to conquer the mind through love and service.
Representatives from Venezuela offered a beautiful melodic outpouring of love through a newly written song entitled ‘Mi Destino’, which means ‘My Destination’.
A video excerpt of Sathya Sai Baba’s discourse was also screened, reminding all that truth is one and same for the whole world.
An exhibition, ‘Ready, Steady… Goal’ was also inaugurated in the presence of senior leaders and dignitaries.
On the second day, the delegates took part in yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, volleyball, basketball, football and a hike to the Hanuman statue at the summit of a hill that overlooks the Hillview stadium.
The hike took them past the statues of Krishna, Buddha, Christ and other faith leaders that adorn the hilltop, underscoring the unity of major religions of the world. The walk was sanctified with bhajans at the feet of the statue of Lord Hanuman – the embodiment of devotion.
Later, three speakers – Saiusha Haridas, youth coordinator, southeast Asia; Dr Chandinie, Sathya Sai Youth of India; and Alida Parkes, chair, southern Europe – shared their personal stories of transformation by the grace of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Guest speaker Dr. Chandrasekhar Narayan, director of research, IBM, USA shared his laboratory’s ground breaking findings in environmental sustainability. He reminded delegates of Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings about respecting nature and caring for Mother Earth.
There followed a lively and engaging debate between two global youth teams on the importance of righteousness versus love in the lives of the youth today.
A heart-warming presentation on service projects conducted by Sathya Sai Youth drew applause.
Youth from around the world shared their personal experiences of serving in the divine mission in a session called Sai 360. The central theme that emerged was that all action should be dedicated to the Lord.
Four concurrent workshops were also held on the second day. In ‘Secrets to Spiritual Fitness,’ participants discussed the interconnection between virtues, happiness and health.
The second workshop, ‘In tune with the name,’ focused upon the practice of ‘namasmarana’ and its ability to generate love, leading to inner peace and supreme bliss. Step up to Serve, which is based on the spiritual significance of selfless service, identified areas of need and building solutions to alleviate the suffering of others.
Post, Tweet, Like & Share encouraged those developing social media platforms to inspire fellow youth in developing spiritual content, through the use of graphics, designs, videos and text.
Lorenzo Casadio from Italy highlighted the nine forms of devotion, of which the highest form is friendship with God. Ramachandra Venkataraman, executive director of the Tata Foundation and alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning reminded youth to embrace adversity for their own good and discussed Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings and exemplary life in serving and inspiring others.
Other cultural events included a drama by the global Sathya Sai Youth; a musical offering by the Sathya Sai World Music team; and a variety programme –Puttaparthi’s Got Talent – comprising a Balinese performance, a Mexican boy’s choir, and an entertaining ‘Bhajan Antakshari.’
The final day also saw speakers address the gathering. They included Julio Vivenes Villavicencio, the zone youth coordinator from South America; and R.J. Ratnakar, trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust.