18th November 2005,
17.00 hrs. Reporting from Prasanthi Nilayam
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Prasanthi Nilayam is already filled to capacity and one can see roads leading to the ashram being spruced up for the special occasion with decorations and huge hoardings on both sides welcoming the influx of thousands of devotees from different parts of the world. Ashram administration and the state government have made elaborate arrangements to ensure comfort and convenience of the expected lakhs of devotees in the days to come. With free food as ‘prasadam’ being offered to devotees from today onwards, separate makeshift kitchens have become operational with thousands being served breakfast, lunch and dinner both South Indian and North Indian style, apart from snack and tea in the evening, Food is served in huge pandals specially erected for the occasion….and hundreds and thousands of Seva Dal volunteers are active round the clock, right from unloading provisions that are arriving regularly, shifting these provisions to the makeshift kitchens, to cooking and serving the thousands. Special tents are raised to accommodate the participants of the World Conference and other devotees towards the Western end of Prasanthi Nilayam. Special telephone booths with ISD, STD and local call facilities are arranged at vantage points in the ashram and an Information Centre is functional round the clock near Ganesh gate to facilitate devotees with required information. Special Bookstalls have been erected at vantage points to facilitate devotees with easy access to Sai Literature.
Free Medical Camp and emergency medical care are being provided with both allopathic and homoeopathic doctors available on duty round the clock. Moving on to the Hill View Stadium, one could see elaborate arrangements being made to see that everything is foolproof for 23rd morning. The main dais is being specially decorated and a special huge stage is being raised on the western slope of the stadium adjacent to Krishna Statue for the day’s programme.
With the Eighth World Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations getting underway on 20th November, arrangements are well on a higher gear with huge settings, shamiana being rasied, behind the North Blocks, towards the North-West end of Prasanthi Nilayam which can easily accommodate thousands of devotees expected to attend the conference.
18th November 2005, 15:00 Hours IST Reporting from Prasanthi Nilayam
Rathotsavam (Chariot Festival)
Bhagawan came to Sai Kulwant Hall for granting Darshan at 7.45 a.m. to the sweet strains of Nadaswaram and the bugles of Panchavadyam. The Veda chanting students were dressed in the traditional attire of Dhoti and angavastram for the occasion. After Darshan, Bhagawan went inside Bhajan Hall and asked the Veda chanting students to start the procession. Soon the Seva Dals who were to carry the palanquins of decorated idols took their positions. As is the custom, Bhagawan’s dear elephant Sai Gita led the procession followed by Nadaswaram, Panchavadyam, Veda chanting students and Bhajan singing group from Sai Kulwant Hall. As the palanquins reached the Gopuram gate, the idol of Venugopalaswami was placed in a chariot. As the procession was about to begin its journey, Bhagawan came to the Gopuram gate and blessed the chariot and the Seva Dals. As the procession meandered through the Gopuram main road, thousand of devotees offered Arati and flowers, broke coconuts and paid their salutations to the idols. It was sight to see so many people offering their obeisance to the idols. After the procession reached the Kalyana Mandapam, the grand chariot carrying the idol of Venugopalaswami was moved inside the enclosure kept specially for it and Arati was offered to the idols. Then the procession began its return journey with the idols of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman. Bhagawan was all the while waiting for the procession to reach the Prasanthi Mandir. After the idols were placed in the Mandir, Arati was offered to Bhagawan. Then Bhagawan retired to His abode. Thus ended the grand festival of Rathotsavam in Prasanthi Nilayam.
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