Sathya Sai World Youth Festival 2016 held on 12th-14th July in Prashanti Nilayam-the abode of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, was as grand of an event as grand can get. Based on the theme, “Love is the Source, Path and Goal”, the Festival organized by Sri Sathya Sai International Organization focused on inculcating and imbibing love in the hearts of the Youth to take Swami’s mission to a new threshold. The 3-day festival showcased a variety of ways to connect through Sathya Sai activities, services, children, transformation, meditation, photography, dancing, yoga, surrender and bhajans. Each day focused on one part of the theme and had speeches, workshops and interactive programs to understand and soak-in the gist of the theme.

The World Youth Festival had a spectacular Inauguration Ceremony in the Sai Kulwant Hall, with the lighting of the lamp, Vedam Chanting by 200 youth from all around the world. The Hall was filled with more than 3200 youth from over 69 countries of the world. The leaders from each country, participated in the Flag Procession Ceremony carrying their National Flag, marking their presence and participation in the Festival. After the Multi-Faith Prayers, the International Youth Coordinator welcomed the august gathering to the Sathya Sai World Youth Festival 2016. With the presentation of the Festival Theme Song-‘Celebrate Love, Celebrate Life’, the Chairman of the Prashanthi Council addressed the Youth, so did The All India President, Nimish Pandya. The Chief Guest for the Event, Honorable Piyush Goyal, the Minister of State with Independent Charge of Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy reinstated,  “Take back not only great memories, but the messages from Swami.”

The other sessions of the day with the theme, “Love is the Source”, included a program offering by Sathya Sai Youth and Radio Sai team, showing the participants how to Plug into The Source. The broadcast of the Evening Darshan Program was various addresses, especially by the Legendary Indian Cricketer, V.V.S. Laxman, who was welcomed with a thunder of claps. Laxman, who retired from International Cricket in 2012, talked about all his experiences with Swami, and how each of his major decisions were influenced by Bhagavan.

The 2nd day started quite early for the youth, with various activities such as Football, Volleyball, Yoga, Taichi, Basketball, Yoga and Hike to Hanuman Statue. The youth were energized and delighted with the morning activities, which could be clearly seen in the other sessions of the day. The Morning Session at Sai Kulwant Hall had addresses by Ms. Saiusha Haridas, Zone 4 Youth Coordinator, Dr. Chandinie and Guest Speaker, Ms. Alida Parkers of Zone 6. The 2nd and 3rd sessions at Poornachandra Auditorium had various influential interactions, based on the theme, “Love is the Path”. Speakers spoke about service stating, “You’ll have the will to serve others, when you see yourself in them, and God in yourself”. Swami says, “I decide who knows/comes to me, even 77000 horses cannot bring you here until I wish to”, and thus the participants were chosen ones for the Festival.

The Evening had various Festival Workshop Sessions such as Secrets to Spiritual Fitness(Healthy & Spiritual Living) by Dr. Hari Conjeevaram, In Tune with the Name(Bhajans and Namasmarana) by Mr. Amey Deshpandey, Mr. Ravi Kumar, Mr. Raju Siddharta, Step Up to Serve (Leading and Volunteering in Sai Projects) by Mr. Alex Grana and Post, Tweet, Like & Share (Social Media & Spirituality) by Ms. Vani Santhirasegram. The 2nd day ended with various forms of dance performed by youth from different parts of the world, that left everyone with awe and delight.

Day 3 also started with the Morning Sessions and moved onto the Morning Session at Sai Kulwant Hall. Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation’s unique system was discussed as was the SSS Divya Jyoti Program which focuses on ‘inspiring children by empowering schools’ because Education has been really close to Baba. Discussion on a successful and useful persons were done where a successful person takes more from the society than s(he) gives and an useful person gives more to the society than (s)he gives. Julio Vivenes Villavicencio, Zone 2B Youth Coordinator talked about the 1st quality of Sathya Sai devotee to be fervor faith in God; faith that God is Omnipresent. He talked about miracles by Swami in his life which saved his life and various miracles to his family members.

Dr. Chandrasekhar Narayan, Director of Research, IBM, USA, talked about the pursuit to success, without compromising the values. He asked the youth to listen and read the teachings of Baba, using it to make small decisions that later transcends into bigger and important results. He summarized his speech in 3 simple sentences: “Do not Rush to Judge Others, Give them time to prove Themselves”, “Long Term Goals v. Short Term Goals” and “Getting Out of Our Comfort Zone”.

The Session at Poornachandra was addressed by Sri R.J. Ratnakar, Trustee of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. He exclaimed that he was so happy with the participation and said that in Sai’s world, there are no strangers, but only brothers and sisters. Youth is not an age, he said, that even at 80, baba exuberated with youthfulness. Swami has said, “Youthfulness comes with truthfulness.” He stated his life experience when Swami sent him away from Puttaparthi and seeing him cry, Swami told him, “Bangaru! Never do anything that makes you ashamed of yourself!” He asked the youth to always keep in mind the behavior Swami expects from us. We should always remember, “God First, Others Next, Self-Last”. At the end of the speech, he distributed sarees to ladies and clothes to gents.

Throughout the Festival, food was distributed free to all the Youth. Various cuisines were made and distributed as per the choice of the Youth. South & North Indian and Western food were distributed in a tent to all the youth. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner consisted of different menu to facilitate the learning and participation of the youth. The work done by the Seva dal was next to great. All the Seva dals at the food counter, in the kitchen and all around Prashanthi need to be applauded, for it was them who assisted in the proper functioning of the Festival. The Accommodation Team, did a wonderful team accommodating more than 3200 youth with proper rooms, where they could rest their brains with the hectic 3-day schedule.

Along with the youth of other countries, the participation of Nepal was visible throughout the 3-day Festival. 237 youth delegates from all the 7 regions of Nepal participated representing Nepal, the number being the highest number of participants from any country, except India. 5 Nepalese took part in the Veda-chanting procession in the opening ceremony. The Sai Symphony musical program had 2 Nepalese vocalists and a keyboardist. In the double decker building inside the Ashram, Prasanthi had its very first ‘Parthi’s Got Talent’, in which a Nepali brother got the divine opportunity to host one of the sessions of the program. Along with that, Nepalese singers sang in the Morning and Evening Sessions of Bhajans in Sai Kulwant Hall. It was a great opportunity for all the youth, who were each hand-picked by Swami Himself, and were chosen, trained and blessed to take in all the sessions of the Festival, and spread it back in Nepal.

This must have been one of the most successful programs in the history of SSSIO. From participation, to the world-class speakers, to the most interactive programs, everything was perfect as is in Prashanthi. Everything done in Swami’s presence is at its majestic grandeur. The Festival taught the youth a lot of things, which they can take back home and create more leaders, leaders that can take forward Swami’s mission to its fullest and enrich the lives of all with Sai’s love, for He is the Source, Path and Goal.

Sathya Sai World Youth Festival 2016