A Young Adult (YA) Festival in Zone 3, titled “Beyond 2020,” was held over Easter weekend, 30th March to 2nd April 2018, in Hamilton, New Zealand. About 200 YAs from Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand united to reflect on their role in Sathya Sai Baba’s mission, beyond geographical boundaries and beyond 2020. The overarching theme of the festival was IGNITE, since the participants aimed to ignite the flame of spirituality within their hearts and to journey forward as one family, serving together with the common bond of love. The festival centred around three key pillars of character, viz., morality, spirituality, and humanity. An uplifting opening ceremony set the scene for the festival and included inspiring speeches from YA leaders and SSIO officers. Indigenous Maori elders of the local Tainui tribe offered a colourful, traditional New Zealand cultural welcome, with the Maori saying, “Aroha mai, aroha atu (Love received is love returned).” In a show of solidarity and unity, Australian Indigenous, Native Fijian, and Maori spiritual traditions were showcased through narrating creation stories from each culture.
Two guest speakers, Ms. Aparna Murali from the USA, and Mr. Amey Deshpande from Prasanthi Nilayam, both alumni of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, shared their experiences with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The soul-stirring Beyond 2020 theme song, “Lovelight,” performed by young adults, echoed in the hearts and minds of the attendees as the first day came to an end. Also, throughout the festival, attendees participated in “Ember Games,” an amazing race-style game. Delegates were divided into four “houses,” each named for one of the qualities needed to IGNITE: Illumino (Illumination), Dedicatio (Dedication), Energio (Energy), and Amare (Love). Each house dealt with a new set of challenges every day, such as “The Battle of SoSAIties,” a game show based on Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings and the foundational principles of various religions, showing their oneness. Young adults delved deeper via “Ignition Sessions,” a series of workshops facilitated by fellow young adults, with catchy names for spiritual and inspirational topics. They were joined by local leaders from New Zealand’s Maori, Islamic, and Christian community for “IGNITEing the Spirit: Sai Easter,” wherein they shared stories and insights on the Easter message of love. The young adults of Australia then described various activities through a multimedia presentation: “Channel Sai News.” The National Council President of Australia highlighted the leadership of the young adults in Australia.
The closing events focused on the three pillars of the event, humanity, morality, and spirituality. “SaiX” comprised a series of inspiring TEDx-style talks, delivered by fellow young adults. A panel discussion urged the young adults to seek and be in good company and to never forget their divine origin. During a memorable closing ceremony, the Central Coordinator of Zone 3 and the National Council President of New Zealand expressed their gratitude to the young adults of Zone 3. The Zone Young Adult Coordinator delivered an inspiring speech focusing on the resolutions for Beyond 2020.