(8 Nov '13)
Nov 04-06 – Toulon, France – Europe Yatra 2013
The coastal city of Toulon, France, was the ninth stop of the 6 week long 2013 Europe Tour. When Amma arrived at the Zenith Omega Hall after a ten-hour drive from Mannheim, Germany, it seemed as if the program had already begun, as hundreds of hard working volunteers stood waiting with candles, lamps and sparklers. They wished to offer a special welcome to Amma on the night of Diwali, the festival of lights, welcoming the divine light of Love to the South of France. The following three days of programs became precisely that – a celebration of Divine Love.
As usual, the programs in Toulon were some of the largest that Amma’s Europe Tour has ever seen. With a capacity of nearly 9000 people, the hall that has hosted internationally renowned stars such as Sting, Elton John, and Phil Collins, was full for all the three days of Amma’s program.
On the morning of the first day, a major newspaper in the area, Var Matin, ran a huge report on Amma’s programs. On the front page of the newspaper, it read, Tous pour l’amour d’Amma (All for Amma’s Love) – Amma, la mere indienne qui embrasse le monde (Amma, the Indian Mother, who embraces the world”).
Though the first day was just one program starting at 11 am, it went non-stop till 1:00 in the morning. At the end of this darshan marathon, Amma danced elegantly with the small children, giving great delight to the adult “children” as well! Amma’s words on the following day reminded us of this special moment: “In order for our minds to grow and become as expansive as the universe, we first need to cultivate the attitude of a small child. We need the innocence and humility of a child, because only a child can grow and become bigger.”
Seemingly endless lines of people wound back and forth in front of the hall before the final evening program. Cultural programs that night included a Mediterranean fusion of Spanish vocals and African drumming, as well as an endearing bhajan session by a 3 year old French boy who sang a number of difficult bhajans, without even being able to read their lyrics.
On the final day, one devotee asked of Amma, “You have done so much for the world; what do you expect of us, your children?” Amma answered with an example. “A river doesn’t mind the varied interactions it has with people. Some may use a river to wash clothes, others may spit in it; still others may worship it. Nevertheless, the water flows on. In the same way, Amma moves ahead with her work regardless of the different ways people approach her. Amma doesn’t think of what she gets back in return. I am only focused on what I am able to give.”
After the very last person received their darshan at 10:30 am, nearly 16 hours after the final program began, Amma’s last program in France this year came to a conclusion. As Amma was about to enter the caravan, there was a lady who had missed Amma’s darshan, having been caught in the morning traffic. Amma held her in a loving embrace and the smile on the woman’s face said it all. No sincere prayer can go unheard.
Soon, the Tour caravan departed for its next destination… Milan.