NSW Regions East and West held their first ever “SAI Human Values Carnival” on the 28th of October 2018 in Chipping Norton, Sydney.

Why a SAI Human Values Carnival?
Typically, a carnival is a public celebration of people coming together to experience a heightened sense of social unity, and it meant happy times with a real party atmosphere. In line with the origin of carnivals, the purpose of the “SAI Human Values Carnival was to celebrate our SAI community with SAI being our common identity who brings us all together in mutual love and friendship, to celebrate SAI’s teachings and to celebrate our own lives which have been enriched by our Divine Master. The event was originally designed for SSE children but was subsequently extended to all members. The team wanted to create an opportunity for SSE children to come together as one united SSE family and experience a taste of spiritual fun outdoors weaved with Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings.

The Day’s Events
It was a cold, windy and overcast morning with a threat of drizzle in the air when the teams arrived to set up for the carnival before 6.30am. As the team completed setting up nature too in her own way decided to participate in the carnival and the whole atmosphere smelt fresh and felt cool with the sun shining brightly across clear blue skies, and within a few hours the entire ground was transformed into a carnival atmosphere. The stall owners arrived a few hours later to decorate and put final touches to their stalls and activity stations. The carnival ground was tastefully decorated with all the props and decorative accessories that had been made for the carnival by the organising team. Themed eye-catching entrance banners got the participants into the carnival mood even before they walked through the main gates. The decorations and banners across all the activity stations and food stalls added to the atmosphere of the carnival.

150 bright young faces from different SSE schools filled the grounds that morning. The day started with devotional singing by SSE children, reinforcing the need to invoke God’s blessings and surrender the proceedings to his Divine will. The carnival activities were themed around four phrases:

Life is a Game – Play it
Life is a Challenge – Meet it
Life is a Dream – Enjoy it
Life is a Pilgrimage to God

There were 17 activity stations in total. All the members were allocated to small groups, and rotated across the stations which catered for each group with an array of engaging, interactive activities and entertainment offerings. Activity stations included a mad hatter’s tea party, a magic show, a mad science corner, an amazing race, a scavenger hunt, problem solving scenarios, active arts, photo booth & glitter, a petting zoo, environmental education activities, control of the senses and meditation sessions, a sensory room, service stalls, sandwich art competition and an inflatable slider. The Liverpool Council staff engaged adult participants in envirocare activities including litter collection in the surrounding areas.

Every group had a group leader who was with the group from start to end. Parents relaxed and enjoyed the company of other parents whilst their children were looked after by the SSE teachers. It was truly touching to see the many creative and innovative ways in which the stalls were decorated, and how the activities were executed incorporating Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings. There was a strong sense of togetherness and dedicated loving service from SSE teachers, co-ordinators, young adults and other members who assisted in various ways.

A SAI masterchef challenge for centres across NSW was the highlight of the carnival; the offerings included top-notch multicultural food, drinks and delicious treats to indulge the taste buds of everyone present.

The grand finale was a costume ball accompanied by live music and dance by our very own talented young adults! Members came adorned in their favourite costumes and other accessories and there were a few stunning examples of fancy dresses on display. It was quite a sight to behold!

Overall the event involved the SAI community of NSW in a new and unique way. The participants had come in sizeable numbers and their strength was above 450 including 120 volunteers who helped with organising and executing the event. The event was attended by 240 adults, 65 young adults and 155 children. The SSE turnout from all the schools in NSW was impressive. The activity station owners and the centre food groups did an amazing job as everyone at the event enjoyed themselves. The food was delicious, the young adult Expansion music team was entertaining, and as a team all worked hard to make the event a grand success. We even had a few people from the local area visit the food stalls and activity stations. The feedback received was overwhelmingly positive.

It was a fun carnival but with appropriate discipline and decorum to ensure everyone could have a great experience with Sathya Sai Baba. For example, when we visit Prashanthi Nilayam our focus is to be with Sathya Sai Baba even though there may be several other activities that are interesting. Likewise, we wanted the children to understand the purpose of the carnival and why they chose to be a part of it.

Putting the Pieces Together
As for the team members of the SAI Human Values Carnival, for each one it was a memorable, insightful and a thoroughly enjoyable experience. A new concept integrating human values was explored with innovative ideas and fresh thinking. It is hoped that this model will provide a fresh impetus to integrating human values in future initiatives in a manner that children, young adults and adults can relate to.

In the stage of life where we are actors and Sathya Sai Baba is the director, he taught us to always trust in His wisdom. As a famous saying goes, “God has a plan for me and that is all I need to know.” Many challenges were faced and overcome with complete trust and faith in the Lord. Sometimes it felt like you were scaling Mount Everest on a unicycle sans oxygen. One such challenge was when the Divine Director decided to change the date of the event at the very last minute from 21st October to 28th October, which required extensive amendments to the original plan and schedule which the team had been working on for 3 months. But the lesson we learnt was that as far as Sathya Sai Baba is concerned, every moment is new, and He emphasises that one should celebrate every moment as it comes – live in the present for it is truly a present from God. According to His plan the rescheduled day resulted in finding an alternative enclosed superior venue, brought many more members who could not make it the previous week and clear blue skies throughout the day.

We are most grateful to Sathya Sai Baba for giving us the vision, foresight, and a united team to put together a unique program with unity & love. Thank You Sathya Sai Baba!