SSIO UK held their annual National Christmas Celebrations on Sunday 10th December 2017, on the theme of ‘Harmony – The Hallmark of Humanness’, a quality apparent throughout the day and particularly prominent in the teachings of Jesus Christ and Sathya Sai.

The event was held at the prestigious Princess Hall of the Cheltenham Ladies College, which is in Region 7 of the SSIO UK, covering South West England and Wales.

Hundreds of devotees made a remarkable effort to reach the venue in time, amidst snowfall and wintry weather conditions.  

The day started with a welcome address by the National President, Dr Veeru Mudigonda and Region 7 President, Darshan Patel. This was followed by a Christmas Service conducted along the traditional lines of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, wherein Readings from the Holy Bible were beautifully intertwined with Carols, telling the joyful Story of the Holy Advent of Lord Jesus. The Carols were led by children as they entered the hall in their festive costumes followed by a group of choristers to the backdrop of the opening carol ‘Once in Royal David City’. This created a magical and uplifting ambience as the Service beautifully meandered its’ way to the final carol ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’.

The Service concluded with a Christmas Sermon delivered by Anne Ryan from Taunton, Somerset, inspiring attendees with the teachings of Jesus Christ;  alongside engaging talks by Lynnette Stopford from Exeter and Patrick Shaw from Bath, who both spoke on the theme of Harmony.

As part of the Christmas celebrations, food was also offered to two charities. The first being the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) who serve the homeless community of Cheltenham; the second being the Food Banks run by a local charity – Caring for Communities and People. Devotees gifted non-perishable food items to support these charities, which provide those in need of basic living essentials.

The day ended with a visit from the children’s favourite Christmas character – Father Christmas, followed by concluding remarks from Dr Kiran Patel, Zone 7 Public Outreach Coordinator.