UK - National Christmas Celebrations
Devotees from around the UK gathered in Region 1 on Saturday 16th December for the National Christmas Celebrations. The 350-strong congregation entered a beautifully decorated hall with dedicated altars to Swami and Jesus Christ. One could immediately feel the festive spirit as devotees settled in, waiting in anticipation for the event to begin.
The programme began promptly at 11am with a welcome address by our National President, Brother Pratap Thakkar. Subsequently, we were blessed to listen to Swami’s divine discourse from Christmas 1996, which showed Swami materialising a miniature Bible. Following this, the Bal Vikas (SSE) students led a procession to Swami while the choir melodiously sung the first carol of the morning’s service.
The rest of the morning’s programme folllowed a traditional Christmas Service format consisting of nine readings and nine carols. Devotees from various regions took it in turn to read lessons from the Bible, interspersed with beautiful carols from the choir. The service began and concluded with words from the Reverend Mark Eminson. Reverend Mark, who has been working as a priest in South Wimbledon since 2019, gracefully highlighted the essence of Christmas and the spirit of giving.
Devotees were then invited to a feast for lunch where many dishes had been lovingly prepared by the service team. After the delicious lunch, the programme proceeded with Bal Vikas offerings. Children had travelled all the way from Tunbridge Wells (Region 6) and Swindon/Bath/Cheltenham (Region 7) to offer their love to Swami in the form of various acts. The Region 7 children presented a brief version of the Nativity in an extremely creative shadow acting performance, followed by some lively Christmas songs. The children of Region 6 presented a skit, also followed by some popular festive songs. Then, the Bal Vikas children of Merton Sai Centre (Region 1) presented a Nativity play, bringing together children in colourful costumes. All the Bal Vikas offerings were delighted in by the congregation and the amount of love, practice and hard work that had gone into these offerings was evident for all to see.
One particular highlight of the afternoon’s programme was an interactive item led by our Joint-National Young Adults Coordinator, Sister Triveni Patel. All devotees took part in this fun game involving the famous ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ song.
As the event was drawing to a close, the children had a special visit from Santa himself, who distributed gifts to them. The event concluded with words of thanks from our National Service Coordinator, Brother Jayesh Patel and Region 1 President, Brother Jitesh Patel. The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended and one could feel the festive cheer throughout