On Christmas Eve at Amritapuri, Amma joined Her children in the darshan hall for an evening programme featuring dancer Nandini Venkat performing South Indian classical bharata natyam depicting nava rasa (nine moods). The dance was preceded by a musical performance by several of Amma’s western children, included traditional Christmas carols in Italian and Latin, including the beautiful hymn Veni Signore Jesu sung in choir, and an operatic arya entitled “Messiah” by Handel, performed solo by the ashram’s resident opera singer.

One delightful highlight of the evening occurred when Tejas, an elderly but robust renounciate from France, appeared as a convincing Santa Claus. Amma had asked him to dress the part, but no one quite expected such an elaborate effort, replete with ringing bell and burlap sack of presents on his back!

After the program, Amma distributed Christmas cake to all Her Western children, drawing each close for a kiss on the cheek or forehead and a smile or an affectionate word or two.

Some of Amma’s children from the West might have been feeling homesick, pining for a traditional dinner and a fireside evening with family. By the end of the evening, however, all must have been more than satisfied, having spent a relaxed, sweet evening with their much larger spiritual family and their beloved Amma: Mother, Guru, and even Santa Claus, all rolled into one.

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