(10 Sep '03)
Nehru stadium, Kochi, Kerala
Along the now still-empty “grand avenue,” arches are being built. On the left, temporary buildings are emerging for the Colours of Compassion Exhibition and several medical exhibitions. On the right, a huge darshan hall is decorated with artificial garlands and flower bouquets. The hall is more than 100,000 square feet, more than three times the size of the hall in Amritapuri. Under the shade of the newly erected darshan hall, skilled workers are filling moulds with plaster and coconut fibre that will create 47 four-metre-high pillars to imitate a temple front. Each column will be decorated with a larger than life statue of Devi. In between the pillars there will be colourful tiled roofs.
As you walk along the avenue, passing the darshan hall, the dignitaries room, the dining area, and the international canteen, you will come upon a stunning scene: here the whole front of Amma’s Amritapuri temple will emerge in life size as an entrance gate to the International Stadium. Skilled workers are carefully moulding the whole front piece of the temple in wood structures. Others are making horse-shaped figures out of straw that they will cover with clay to form the horses of Arjuna’s carriage that will be above the entrance.
The stadium itself is huge: more then 100,000 seats, all of which are getting a good wash. Four high light-masts in the shape of elephant tusks mark the four corners. In the middle, workers are carefully building scaffolds to make temporary roofs above most of the seats to provide some shade for the visitors during the hot South Indian afternoon sun. In the north end of the stadium, a big stage is being constructed for the performances and rituals.
Here Amma will receive the representatives from the 191 United Nations member countries, dressed in the traditional clothing and carrying the water of their native land. His Excellency the President of India Dr. Abdul A. P. J. Kalam will then assist Amma as She blesses the water. The water will then be poured at the roots of a kalpataru (banyan) sapling that will be planted at the location of Amma’s new International Meditation Centre.