On 20 August 2017, NSW Region West of the Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia & PNG (SSIO) hosted a multicultural, multi-faith community event styled ‘ONENESS: Coming Together to Make Our World a Better Place.’ The event was part of an ongoing Unity of Faiths and community-building initiative of the Region and was a highly successful day’s activity of music, song, dance, drama and addresses developing the theme of Unity in Diversity.
‘What is it that man should acquire today? It is a broadening of the heart so that it may be filled with all-embracing love. Only then the sense of spiritual oneness of all mankind can be experienced. – Sathya Sai Baba 1994.
NSW Region West is an area of considerable diversity in both cultural backgrounds and religious faiths, factors in this world today that can lead to misunderstandings, suspicion and intolerance. The SSIO is a spiritual organisation with no religious affiliations having members from many faiths coming together seeking to enrich their lives through the teachings of Sathya Sai Baba. These teachings enshrine the human values of Peace, Truth, Right Conduct, Non-violence and especially Love. One of the fundamental objectives of the SSIO is the promotion of Unity of Faiths leading to tolerance and harmonious societies.
The day’s event brought together people from a range of different ethnic backgrounds and faiths, who were treated to some polished performances that transcended cultural and religious barriers through that universal language, music and peoples’ engagement with it through song and dance. A taste of the days performances and exerts from some of the addresses are contained in the short video available here.
Early in the program the gathering was welcomed to country by an inspirational and entertaining offering by the Yidaki Yulugi Group who performed a number of Aboriginal dances and chants, mimiced the calls of various birds and taught the group some Aboriginal words, including yubalu ‘I love you.’
Over 400 people, adults and children, including residents from a local age care facility attended the event and from their enthusiastic involvement in the closing musical item, obviously thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Dance items with musical and sometimes vocal backing featured strongly among the entertainments. The dancers in traditional dress and performing traditional dances were entrancing, often graceful, sometimes vibrantly energetic, always a delight. Representatives from Nepal, Laos and India gave spirited performances.
Members of Blacktown Girls’ High School African Tribal Drumming Group gave a drumming feast that represented various emotions generated by traditional activities and was a celebration of life.
Children and young adults from the SSIO also provided items. The children performed a mime piece which highlighted the core theme that although we may appear different by our appearances, in reality there is only one brotherhood of man. Sai Baba’s pronouncement was voiced over at the end to form a powerful statement defining our ONENESS.
‘There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity; there is only one language, the language of Heart; there is only one religion, the religion of Love; there is only one god and He is Omnipresent. Let different faiths exist, let them flourish, let the glory of god be sung in all languages in a variety of tunes. Respect the difference between the faiths and recognize them as valid so far as they do not extinguish the flame of unity.”
The mime performance was followed by a Unity of Faiths fusion dance by girls of the Sai Young Adults group, who each represented a different religion; Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh.
A number of addresses provided a more formal discussion of the theme. The National President of the SSIO in Australia welcomed the people and discussed the message of Sai Baba that Divinity dwells in the hearts of every one of us as love, compassion and sacrifice. That recognising that Divinity breaks down barriers and leads to peace and a better world.
Reverend Dr Manas Ghosh of the Paramatta Mission Uniting Church acknowledged the apt timing for such a program as ‘ONENESS’. He spoke of the need for respect and understanding as a panacea for the world and that needs to start with ourselves. He also pointed out that our physical differences were only cosmetic, in reality, we are all one race, the race of humanity, a brother and sisterhood.
The program concluded with the Sai Young Adults leading the gathering in the song, ‘We are the World’ which was enthusiastically joined in by the rest of the performers and audience. The program and the sense of shared community was a wonderful and enriching experience felt by all. The SSIO people involved were already planning their next involvement in promoting love and understanding amongst the community.