(31 Aug '01)
Onam at Amritapuri was a day of many surprises. In the morning, Amma announced that She would hold the morning darshan program in the new hall where only bhajans and Devi Bhava darshan are usually held.
Talking to the devotees present, Amma said, “You have been able to see the ashram as your own home. Ashrams are the abodes of spiritual culture. The root of Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Religion) is spirituality. Even in the cyclone of materialism, we have been able to maintain the light of Sanatana Dharma, because some children like you are dedicated to following the path of truth and dharma.
“Only when celebration and values merge does life become a true celebration. Many a times we sacrifice values for our pleasures. To cultivate values needs a lot of patience, effort and time, but to destroy it is easy.”
After giving satsang, instructions for manasa puja (mental worship of one’s beloved deity) and instructions for meditation, Amma stood up and danced blissfully, playing hand cymbals as the swamis sang Amrita Vahini, a popular bhajan sung to the tune of a traditional Kerala boat racing song.
All were mesmerized at the sight of Amma dancing gracefully. Many devotees also started dancing. When the swamis had finished singing the song, Amma continued dancing and playing the cymbals, so the swamis had no choice but to start singing again! Amma slowly danced to a halt, and then sat down in a spontaneous meditation. For a few minutes, all meditated blissfully in the presence of the Divine Mother. The silence was absolute. Then Amma stood up, stepped backwards onto her peetham, and began giving darshan to the visiting devotees, who rushed eagerly into Her arms.
Lunch was a joyous affair as Amma served prasad to one and all, including our beloved Ram, Amma’s young elephant. The serving itself took well over two hours, as many devotees had come to Amritapuri to celebrate Onam. All the brahmacharis, ashram residents, children of Amma’s orphanage and many devotees pitched in to cook, serve and clean up.
Amma was in Her room for only two hours before returning to give darshan again! Bhajans began at the usual time, and most thought that Amma would retire for a well-needed rest. But She came for the bhajans, just as She does every night at Amritapuri.
After the devotees had taken their dinner, Amma returned to watch an evening of cultural programs performed by the brahmacharis, ashram residents, and devotees.
It is part of the Onam tradition that wherever one might be living, one will return to one’s home to celebrate this holiday with all of one’s extended family. And yet thousands of people came to Amritapuri to celebrate Onam with Amma… no doubt because they feel Amritapuri to be their real home.