Dear Sisters and Brothers in Sai,

Sri Sai Ram

You are heartily invited to take part in the Christmas Surprise granted by our beloved Bhagavn Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

The following excerpts of a devotee´s mail will give Your mind some good guidance ...

This year (2004) I got to experience a Prashanti Christmas and it was was even more spectacular.  The hall was filled with beautiful red and green decorations including six almost life-size angels, with gorgeous flowing gowns and gold wings.  In fact, the entire ashram was decorated, including the Western canteen.
For two days at Christmas, Westerners are given preferred seating (...).  On the afternoon of the 24th Swami came into the hall in one of His new carts (...).  The hall was full, but everyone seemed to get inside.  After Swami took His seat, the children’s choir presented their program.  They gave a wonderful, energetic performance of songs and carols.  Then the 600 member adult choir presented their program. There were no Christmas carols, but a beautiful set of love songs to Swami.  He seemed very pleased with their performance, leaning back in His chair with eyes closed in a familiar pose, raising the energy with His left hand.  Swami gave permission for the choir to sing a couple of encore songs and then requested they sing bhajans while He had prasad distributed to the crowd (Indian sweet with silver foil on top). The choir led us in several rousing bhajans.  Swami got out of His chair and went inside the interview room for some minutes then emerged and entered the mandir where He sat for more bhajans lead by His students.  He left the hall in the cart just after 5:30 pm.  That evening, the Western canteen provided a Christmas meal for 30 rupees, which included shepherd’s pie and mango ice cream.  The canteen staff had put candles on the tables and lowered the lights, so it was like a real Christmas meal.
On Christmas Day (25.12.), at morning darshan, the World Choir (...) was invited to sit behind the Christmas Choir (...).  Swami came sometime after 7 am in the same cart as the day before, wearing his normal orange robe.  The hall was full and devotees had to sit outside as not all could get in.  After going around the hall in the cart, Swami took His seat on the veranda and the His students put on their Christmas program.  First, was a small band of older boys who did an excellent job playing a number of traditional Christmas songs, such as Winter Wonderland complete with the sound of cracking whip and horse’s whinny at the end.   
Next came a performance of the younger violin group who did several carols including jingle bells while several of the young students in Santa costumes skipped around the hall throwing candy to the crowd.  Swami was enjoying every minute, tapping His hands to the music and blessing the small »Santa’s« when then came to kneel before Him.  The final performance of the morning was done by a combination group of students (both younger and older).  They did a more contemporary rendition of some Christmas music, which included vocals.  In between each song, a boy came forward to speak a few words of introduction about Christmas, Jesus and/or Swami.  After they finished, Swami asked them to lead bhajans and then had prasad distributed (dates).  Anil Kumar announced that Swami would give a discourse at 4 pm. Swami left the hall in the cart around 9:30 am.
In the afternoon (25.12.), Swami came into the hall around 3:30 pm and made the rounds in His cart.  He surprised us by signaling to have a car brought into the hall.  We were all wondering what was going to happen.  It was a new car, I hadn’t seen before -- small, but still larger than the golf carts.  Since the crowd was large, the driver had a bit of difficulty, but finally managed to drive around the hall, up onto the veranda, then back out and around in front of the veranda steps.  We were all still wondering what this was all about.  The driver opened the car door -- sliding door similar to minivan doors on cars in the USA.  We could see the car interior and the passenger seat.  (The car only had two seats).  The driver, using a remote control pushed a button and the passenger seat, swung out from the interior and then lowered to the ground. The driver then got out and showed how the seat was easily detached and became a rolling chair.  Anil Kumar came on the microphone to describe how the car had arrived just that morning, unexpectedly, and then described all the features we had just witnessed. Swami was obviously extremely pleased and wanted to share His new Christmas present with all His devotees at the ashram!  It was a very happy moment.  The driver then reversed the process by putting the car seat easily back in place and raising it back into the car with the remote.  The car was driven back onto the veranda behind the Ganesh statue where we could not see it.  
The afternoon program then commenced with the head of the Christmas committee introducing three speakers(...).
(...)  Then it was time for Swami to give His discourse.  The full text will be available on the web shortly, but in quick summation:  He said that there is nothing that is not God and that all that occurs is His will.  He talked about His new car and how, even though it arrived unexpectedly, it was His will.  He encouraged us to pray, but not to have expectations about the outcome.  All prayers are answered, but not necessarily in the manner we might expect. After the discourse, Swami had gifts (four-color printed booklets with photos and Swami quotes) and prasad (cookies) distributed. The students sang bhajans as the prasad was distributed.  
Finally, the new car was brought out from behind the Ganesh statue and Swami demonstrated how the seat worked by getting in while we all watched!  He was so happy and that made us all so joyful.  The car was driven back around the men’s side (the students rushed to be reseated near the aisle in order to have a good look). The car windows were rolled down and Swami waved blessings to everyone as He slowly left the hall.  

It was a most wonderful and happy Christmas celebration here at Prashanti Nilayam.

Posted on 26.12.2004 by Jay Sai Ram.