(23 Mar '03)
The Mata Amritanandamayi Math first began trying to initiate projects in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, in 1998. But various obstacles always arose. But as the saying goes, ‘if you keep knocking, the door will open; even if it’s not the targeted one’. In a similar manner, though the Math was focusing on Kolkata, things started coming up in Durgapur, West Bengal’s foremost industrial city, located 175 kms from the capital.
Around the year 2000, the Math applied to the communist Bengal government for an allotment of land for an Amrita Kuteeram housing colony. In 2001, after many meetings, the government allotted the land at free of cost for the housing colony. Thus began a new chapter of Amma’s mission, in West Bengal.
Amma wanted to start free homes right away, but then in January 2001, the Bhuj earthquake struck, and the relief efforts there took priority. Construction of the school started in 2002 December, the construction of first 108 free homes was well in progress. The beneficiaries were identified jointly by the District Authority and the Math, and comprised of people from the lowest strata of society.
The citizens of Durgapur and the surrounding areas showed their gratefulness, support and devotion to Amma by arranging a thunderous reception for Her on 17th March 2003 at the Amritavidyalayam site. More than 30,000 people attended the function, many of whom had to walk great distances to come and have Amma’s darshan. During that evening’s darshan programme, the keys of the houses to the first few beneficiaries were handed over be Sri Bansa Gopal Chowdhury, the Honorable Minister for C&SSJ, Government of West Bengal. This was the first time in history that a minister from a communist party shared a stage with Amma in West Bengal.
Durgapur means “City of Goddess Durga,” and Amma, who is Durga personified, has come to reside in this town and in the hearts of the people who live there.