September 2003

At lunchtime, everybody takes a short break and food is served under a thatched roof just outside the stadium—rice, curry, sambar and buttermilk. 35-year-old Savitri is a devotee from Allepey, 60 kilometres south of Kochi who has come to help.”When we heard Amma wanted people to help clean, we came with the whole family. My mother, my brother, my two sons and my sister and her husband and his brother are here now. We are helping to clean the kitchen areas in the Stadium.” She has a great smile on her face and points out all her relatives. Her Punjabi dress shows the stains of soap and dirt from the cleaning she has been doing. “We stay here until Monday, but if Amma wants us to come back we will come again!”

Even though most are taking a lunch break, lots of activity goes on. Right next to the dining area, acrobat-like workers are using 8-meter tall bamboo poles to build the skeleton for yet another temporary building. High above the ground they balance as they use ropes to tie the poles together, slowly forming a roof that will be covered with dried palm tree leaves. Next to that, skillful workers are sowing enormous lengths of white cloth together that will form the ceiling of these big makeshift tents. Firstly the whole ceiling is prepared just above the ground. Once the ceiling cloths are tied to posts, other workers stitch on colourful two-metre-across paper and cloth mandalas. Then the whole ceiling is lifted up and put in place. The mandalas form a stunning sight, as 20 different suns in the sky

Brahmacharis also join the food line. Two days ago Amma sent a large group to help clean the surrounding area. They are cleaning all the dirt from around the stadium. Up to now 20 truckloads of dirt have been removed. They are cutting the half-meter high grass and picking up all the plastic and other rubble that has been left there for years. So much work to be done… will it get finished in time? “Of course,” they say smilingly, one after the other. “This is Amma’s work. This is not a human wish, this is a divine wish. So this is not a human effort. this is a divine effort.”

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