June 12th, 2005
"Samoohika Upanayana Mahotsava" declared the banners adorning the Sai Ramesh Hall and the Gokulam entrance. Brindavan was hosting a thread-ceremony for more than 500 young boys. The vatus and their parents lined up at the Gokulam and started from there in a procession by 6.30 am. The young initiates were dressed in bright yellow, flanked by their parents, all in clothes provided by Bhagawan the previous day.
The entire hall was filled with the vatus with their parents on either side; other devotees could sit only in the extension of the hall. The places for the vatus had been marked with beautiful pink lotuses - real flowers, not paintings! They had all the necessary puja implements also laid out in front of each vatu.
The program commenced at 7.15 am in the Sai Ramesh Hall. The main priest stood on a raised platform just below the stage of the Hall, and addressed the gathering. He welcomed all the participants and announced the commencement of the proceedings, first in Kannada and then in English. The priests then began their sonorous chants, starting with prayer to Lord Ganesha.
By 7.30, just as the initial prayers were being completed, the traditional band instruments and nadaswaram players started playing, and started entering the hall - Bhagawan was arriving. Bhagawan came to the centre of the stage from backstage in the wheeled sofa, and the auspicious music rose to a crescendo. Then the music stopped, and the puja got underway again.
Bhagawan remained onstage till 9.15 am. The priest was explaining the rituals in Kannada and English and giving instructions to be followed by the parents and the vatus. Interestingly, special gayatri mantras relating to Sita, Hanuman, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna were also chanted. Along with the pujas, a homa was also being performed, with oblations being offered into the sacred fire at the altar just below the stage. The Gayatri Mantra and the Sai Gayatri were chanted by the entire congregation led by the priests, filling the hall with divine vibrations. During the Gayatri chanting, the sacred fire rose up, reaching more than 6 feet high.
At the end, just before the Brahmopadesa, or the initiation of the vatu into the Gayatri Mantra, Bhagawan left the stage. For a while, the organisers waited to see if Bhagawan was returning for the Brahmopadesa, and finally at 9.30, was the wearing of the sacred thread along with the Maha Sankalpa, or "Statement of Purpose" as explained by the main priest.
The Arati brought the Upanayanam ceremony to a close, with the nadaswaram players also playing the Arati tune! An announcement was made for all to collect prasadam from the counters set up all around Sai Ramesh Hall. A leaf-container of tamarind rice and kesari bhat was distributed to all, while the vatus and their parents went in procession around Bhagawan's Trayee Brindavan residence chanting the Sai Gayatri. There, they were all blessed when Bhagawan came out on the balcony and gave them darshan. After that treat to their hearts, they proceeded to the Kalyanamantapam for a treat for their stomachs too! A sumptuous lunch had been arranged for them by Bhagawan. There were 22 items, starting with mango rice and ending with sago payasam.
In the evening, bhajans by the Sevadals began at 4.20 pm when Swami came out of Trayee, and Swami soon came onstage. Bhagawan appeared fresh and glowing as ever. The energetic bhajans continued till 5.10, and then Swami gave the indication for Arati. But a concert had been arranged, and Sri C. Srinivas and Sri Gangadhar Shetty requested Bhagawan for permission to have the concert. So, Swami sat onstage, and after the Arati, blessed the artistes who came onstage. The Hindustani vocal concert was by Uma Shankar - she had accompanists on the tabla and the harmonium. After 20 minutes of the concert, Swami again blessed the vocalist who came onstage, this time deciding to stand up... And then He sat again in the sofa and retired for the day.
June 8th to 11th, 2005
This was quite an eventful week at Brindavan, with the students putting up four programs in the evenings. On the 8th, after the evening bhajans, they presented a program highlighting the significance of the Vedas, and their chanting. On the 9th was a musical program, interspersed with speeches. On the 10th was a Kavi Sammelan, or meeting of poets, with students reading out poems in eleven languages. And on the 11th, there was a program on the significance of the Upanayanam ceremony which was to be held the next day.