Christmas denotes not just the birth of Christ, but the birth of an ideology, of an all-encompassing love that translates into serving the needy. This glorious ideology was celebrated at The Gift of Life Ceremony that was held at Sathya Sai Grama, Muddenahalli, Karnataka, on December 25 this year.

Close to three lakh children are born with congenital heart disease each year.  Almost 25 per cent of them die before they can celebrate their first birthday. With the cost of surgery ranging anywhere between two and seven lakh, most parents feel hopeless and helpless when it comes to providing their child with the required medical help.

It is against this backdrop that Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai’s healthcare mission aims to contribute to the national childcare goals by providing paediatric cardiac surgeries completely free of cost.

Over 18,000 children have been successfully operated upon at the three Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Child Heart Care Centres since 2012. Top class medical services are now being offered at recently inaugurated Sri Sathya Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital, Muddenahalli, as well.  Over the nine days, preceding Christmas this year, 32 such surgeries have been performed at this hospital.

Dr Ragini Pandey, Senior Paediatric Surgeon at the Sarla Memorial Hospital, gave a presentation on the hospital and the surgeries that were performed there.  Following the presentation, twenty-five children who have fully recovered after their surgeries were brought on stage as part of the Gift of Life Ceremony. Among the children was a nine-month-old baby who was operated upon as recently as December 17 this year.

The special guest on the occasion Shri Prahlad DN, non-executive chairman, Surya Software Systems, spoke of how much one single person can do as he quoted the example of the Serbian American engineer and physicist Nicolai Tesla. He exhorted the children to take inspiration and charge ahead to serve and better the lives of the poor as India has the largest population of poor people in the world.

The Guest of Honour, Dr Padma S Veerapaneni, Director, KIMS Hyderabad and Chairman, RiSE Foundation, was all praise for the Sri Sathya Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital, for its state-of-the-art facilities and experienced, dedicated professionals with a heart for selfless service. She was overwhelmed by the breadth of services that were being offered here under the leadership of Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai who, she said, is “A rare combination of divinity and humanity. “

Sri C Srinivas, Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust, said, “The human heart carries out a huge and critical task in silence. And to give it back full of health to a child is the most gratifying service one can do. This is more so because every beating heart is the seat of God Himself.”

Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai began His Divine message by saying, “Christmas could not have been happier, merrier or holier than it is today. Not just because Jesus was born on this day 2000 years ago, but because so many children are reborn today.  We have put into practice Christ’s message of love and service to little children and their families.”

Sadguru thanked Dr Ragini and her team for their selfless and untiring service. He also thanked everyone who toiled tirelessly so that the hospital could be constructed and begin operations during covid times. “The hospital was made ready and running in barely six-seven months’ time.  There was only barren land in March 2021 where today a world-class facility stands that give service free of all costs,” Sadguru said.

Sadguru reminded everyone that the right to education, right to nutrition and right to good health are the fundamental rights of every child. And that it is the responsibility of society to ensure that every child is able to exercise these rights.  The onus rests not only on parents but on society as a whole to ensure that no child anywhere is denied these fundamental rights.

The evening came to a close with a breathtaking performance by the Sai Symphony Orchestra. A beautiful bouquet of Christmas carols and songs were presented at Sadguru’s feet even as the audience was left spellbound.