13 September 2003 — Cochin, Kerala
For a moment you think are on a film set. Temple fronts are being erected, pillars and statues are caste out of plaster, and tents and halls are being built. Walking up the area of the International Stadium on the outskirts of Kochi, you can see huge posters for Amritavarsham50, scaffolds, arches, tents, lighting masts and hundreds of workers, volunteers and brahmacharis. Here a normally empty and deserted part of Kochi is being transformed into a holy festival area with temples, homas, restaurants, IT-hub, exhibition areas, restrooms, rooms for dignitaries, a specially decorated room for Amma, stages and darshan line-markers, all ready for the more than 100,000 guests that are expected every day to come for the Celebrations.
Clean-up Operation at Stadium Becomes a Renovation
The place is vibrant and bustling with activity. “More than 1000 people are working here right now,” says Br.Tapasyamrita Chaitanya, who is one of the supervisors of the work. Laid out on his table is the architectural map of the site, showing the huge stadium and the whole surrounding “Amrita-Village.” The stadium was built some 8 years ago and thus far has only hosted the occasional cricket match. For the rest of the year, the stadium has been empty and in the Indian climate this means it gets very dirty and worn out, so there was the real need for a facelift. “We have already put in new electricity in the whole stadium. Most of the toilets and drainage are renewed and cleaned. We painted most of the conference rooms. We have skilled labourers but a lot of work is being done by people from Amma’s ashrams and devotee-volunteers.” He looks relaxed even though his phone rings almost continuously and people keep walking in and out of the room, asking questions, showing maps and bills.
“Nearly all the building materials come from all the building sites where Amma is contructing schools and institutions, so when the event is over we will take it all down and the materials will be used again. Nothing will be wasted. This also brings down the costs considerably.” There is work going on at hundreds of places at the same time. The most important question is of course if everything will be ready in time. “Yes,” he says, smiling brightly. “This is Amma’s dream—of course it will be ready.”