Amma in Milan, Italy

Oct 26 -29 Milano, Italy — europe Yatra 2007

Amma held four days program in Milno.

Indian Ambassador for Italy; H.E. Mr. Rajiv Dogra, welcomed Amma to Italy. “The goodness of heart is the most important thing in life and in this respect I think Amma is unique, because by setting up all these hospitals she is not only spreading love, not only curing heart, but she is also bringing smile to the faces of people who deserve it most, the poor people.”

Amma was also welcomed by Giorgio Oldrini, President of the City Council (Mayor) of Sesto San Giovanni, the suburb of Milan where the programmes were held.

Italian TV personality Paola Barale came for Amma’s darshan. In an interview after her darshan, Paola commented that, “It was a very good experience; New …strong …and important.”

Irene Grandi, a famous Italian Rock-singer, came for Amma’s blessings as well. She spontaneously gave a short performance on stage to the delight of the crowd. In an interview afterwards she said about her Darshan with Amma, “It was an experience which I will never forget.”

Sri Narayana Jyoti

Narayana JyothiToday, hundreds of Ashramites gathered in front of the Main Temple to welcome the arrival of an ‘eternal flame’ from Sivagiri. Under the initiative of the Sri Narayana Guru Dharma Sangha, the flame has been visiting holy sites throughout Kerala for the past month. It arrived at Amritapuri on a platform mounted inside an elaborate vehicle/chariot that contained an altar and a statue of Sri Narayana Guru as well.

Just last month, Amma had been invited to the Sivagiri Math {news} to light the flame and inaugurate the pilgrimage. The lamp was lit from the eternal flame that is burning at the Samadhi of Sri Narayana Guru.

Sw. Turiyamrita performed Arati and garlanded the statue. He then lit a small lamp from the sacred flame, and brought it into the Temple where a special ceremony was held. Br. Dhyanamrita welcomed the pilgrims on behalf of Mata Amritanandamayi Math. The ashram residents then sang a bhajan.

Narayana JyothiSwami Sandra-ananda of Sivagiri Math said that he had seen Amma’s influence on the masses during the pilgrimage with the flame throughout Kerala.

Swami Narayana-ananda and Swami Sandra-ananda, along with two Brahmacharis and about 100 pilgrims, have been traveling with the flame on the pilgrimage. After the ceremony, all were giving a sumptuous meal served by the Ashram Brahmacharis.

When enjoying the creation, remember the creator

25 October, Europe Yatra 2007 — The Brenner Pass, Alps, Innsbruck, Austria

Amma has been travelling across Europe annually for 22 years now. But until this week, she had never made a road stop with the devotees accompanying her on the tour as she regularly does during her India tours. It was during the 500-km trip from Munich to Milano, that Amma asked the tour coordinators to find a suitable place for her and the 160 tour-staff members to spend some time together. The chosen spot was along the Brenner Pass in Austria, an ancient trade route through the Alps, connecting the Southern Alp areas of Northern Italy and the Northern Alp areas of Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

When the buses arrived, Amma was already there waiting. Amma’s devotees and disciples climbed up the hill to where Amma was sitting. The panorama was breathtaking—a 360-degree view of the Alps, with several villages visible in the valleys below. “Look at this beautiful view. But when enjoying the beauty of the creation, we should remember the Creator,” Amma said. She then began to pass out sweet biscuits to everyone as prasad.

Suddenly, from behind Amma came the cry of “Amme!” with a slightly French accent. Nathesh, a young French boy, was coming down the hill carrying a large handful of snow, which he then presented to Amma. Before anyone knew it, Amma had made several snowballs and was firing them with perfect accuracy at various devotees and disciples.

After singing a few bhajans in Italian, Amma closed her eyes in meditation. When she opened them, she began speaking about the importance of chanting one’s mantra while travelling on a spiritual pilgrimage.

“While traveling on the bus, you should always chant your mantra,” Amma told the group. “Chant as much as possible. Even if you fall asleep, when you wake up resume your chanting the moment you awaken. If you forget, just start again when you remember. Our intensity for God should always increase. Imagine that you owned a precious diamond and lost it. After that, whatever you’re doing—walking, talking, traveling—in all of your actions, you will always be thinking of the diamond and how to find it. In the same way, we should intensely remember God. We may fall asleep, but if we always resume our chanting upon remembering, slowly the gaps of forgetfulness will be bridged. We should be like a person sitting in a glass box. The person may look outside and enjoy the sights, but he always remain separate in his box. Likewise, on the bus we can look at the beautiful nature outside, but we should try to see our Beloved Deity in all of this. We can enjoy everything, but always remember and be focused on God. We should try to see Creator in creation.”

—Sakshi

Children’s hope, Postman s burden

For the past few weeks, the postman has been arriving at Amritapuri bearing heavy loads. Huge sacks of mail from all over India are coming to the Ashram on a daily basis. They are filled with the hopes of thousands of children. They are applications for Amma’s newly announced Vidyamritam project in which 30,000 children will be given financial aid to help cover the cost of their education. (read more). However, when told about the number of applications arriving at the Ashram, Amma immediately said that the number of beneficiaries should be increased to 100,000.

Every day, a group of devotee volunteers can be found sitting around a table in the Main Hall, opening up each application individually. Piles of discarded opened envelopes lay on the floor.  Their contents neatly stacked on the table – having been properly checked to makes sure that everything has been included. There is a photograph of the hopeful child, family information, school grades. The information is later entered into a computer.In the upcoming months, each child’s family will be visited by a representative of the Ashram to verify the information provided before they start receiving their benefits.During Amma’s Birthday, those children who had already been selected received their first installment.

Amma in Munich, Germany

21 -23 October 2007, Munich, Germany – Europe Yatra

Amma held three days of programmes in Munich. This marked the 20th year that Amma has visited the city. As Amma entered the hall for the first evening programme, she was welcomed on the stage by an orchestra complete with kettle drums and a choral group singing ‘Ode to Joy’. Many people held up signs saying ‘Danke’ – which means ‘Thank you’ in German. The Consulate General of India noted that he was ‘indeed delighted that Amma has been visiting Munich regularly.’ During Darshan, an International Music Ensemble sang ‘Ave Maria’.

Durgapuja at Amritapuri

19 October 2007 Amritapuri

Friday marked the beginning of the last three days of Navaratri during which Saraswati, the Embodiment of Knowledge, is worshipped.  Village children began arriving at the Ashram in the late afternoon to place their school textbooks and musical instruments on the temporary altar that had been set up on the stage in the main hall.   Each item was given a number and labeled with the child’s name, age, and village.

They were later joined Brahmacharis, Ashramites and University students who were also adding their own items to be blessed by the Goddess Saraswati over the net three days.  Sw. Turyiamritananda performed a brief puja after which everyone approached the altar and offered flower petals.

The day after Navaratri (Sunday morning) is Vijaya Dashami (tenth day, festival victory) and it is on this day that everyone picks up their items and either undertakes new tasks or resumes existing ones with a child like innocence.

Sw. Turyiamrita will perform a special ceremony in which pre-school children are introduced to the first letters of the alphabet.

read more about Vijaya Dashami and Navaratri

Meals on wheels

The crew13 October 2007 — ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Nederland
“We used to have just a couple of gas burners, a few pots and pans and then go cook somewhere behind the building—often in the dark without any lights,” laughs Paul Sharma, reminiscing of the days when he and Lavan Jain first began cooking for Amma’s Europe Tour programs. Desiring to raise money for Amma’s charitable projects through selfless service, the two UK citizens have travelled the length and breadth of Europe with Amma serving hot and tasty Indian meals and snacks every year since 1990.
But what began as a two-man operation has since evolved into a massive undertaking with a staff of more than 50 volunteers. And this year marked the beginning of a new chapter in the story of the Europe Tour Kitchen: a kitchen on wheels.
Swami in Kitchen Custom-created using the interior of a semi-truck container, the new mobile Europe Tour Kitchen is equipped with a walk-in freezer/refrigerator, 12 gas cookers, a five-person frying station, dosa stoves, a pot-washing area, a 90-square-meter tent with wood floor, hot and cold running water, stainless-steel shelves and an additional tent for people to cut vegetables inside. In theory, the kitchen can be setup and broken down within three to four hours.
“We wanted to have an industrial kitchen of the same level you find in a Hilton or Marriot Hotel but portable,” says Akshay (Matthias Schneiderhan), an Amritapuri Ashram resident who stayed two months at M.A. Centre Germany in Hof Herrenberg in order to construct the kitchen. “I don’t think anything else like this exists anywhere in the world.”

The mobile kitchen is not only superior to previous setups in terms of functionality, but also in terms of economics. It is no longer needed to rent refrigerators to store perishable food items nor tents to house the cooking. Food can even be prepared in one city and transported to the next. Furthermore, when not being used as a kitchen, the container is used to carry various Europe Tour supplies, reducing the number of vehicles needed to conduct the tour. All this enables the Europe Tour Kitchen to raise more money for Amma’s charitable social-welfare projects—the main motivation for Paul and Lavan since the beginning.

“The first year Lavan and I came for Amma’s program was 1989,” recalls Paul while stirring his “secret recipe,” Punjabi curry, in Winterthur, Switzerland. “At that time, one of the organizers asked us if we could drive to a caterer and pick up some food that he had ordered. When we got there, I asked the contractor how much he was charging per plate. He told some five pounds. I got mad! I said, ‘I can cook that for 60 or 70 pence! How are we going to raise money for Amma?’ That’s why the idea came. Probably Amma put the idea in my head. So Lavan and I immediately went to a store and bought chips and Coke and candy and began selling that. Then we made sandwiches. It just evolved naturally from there.”
With the number of people coming from Amma’s darshan in Europe ever increasing, a kitchen of this level had become a necessity. “In one city, I may cook 5,000 spinach pakoras and 2,000 onion bhajis,” says Lavan, seated in front of his fryer in the mobile kitchen. “Last year in Barcelona, I went through 250 kg of onions alone.”
One night in Paris in 2006, the kitchen prepared 1,500 meals—and that doesn’t count the masala dosas, fried snacks or Indian sweets.
In ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Nederland, on 13 October 2007, the day of the first program of Amma’s 2007 Europe Tour, Swami Ramakrishnananda performed a puja to consecrate the mobile kitchen. When one enters a new building, a milk-boiling ceremony is conducted. Before first driving a car, one performs vahana puja. But how does one consecrate a kitchen-on-wheels? Amma’s 108 names were chanted, nivedya puja was done and milk was boiled on one of the gas burners—the flame lit from the oil lamp used in the puja. In attendance was the entire kitchen staff—men and women aged 18 to 70, from France, Ireland, England, India, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, America, Japan, Canada, Finland, Italy, Spain…

Asking everyone to offer a handful of flowers to a picture of Amma set up on one of the kitchen counters, Swami Ramakrishnananda said, “Pray to Amma that we are able to work with the right attitude, a spiritual attitude, and are able to make Amma’s children happy through our food!”

—Sakshi

Amma in Switzerland

Oct 17 -19 Switzerland, Europe Yatra 2007

Travelling from Holland, Amma arrived in Winterthur, Switzerland for three days of programmes on October 17, 18, 19. Winterthur is close to the capital city of Zurich. Many people came to the programmes, some expressing their emotions of joy or sadness. One woman happily commented, “For me it is a real gift that Amma comes to Europe and especially here in Switzerland.” A few young children made booklets on the story of Mirabai and sold them to raise money for Amma’s charity. In total, they raised 835 Swiss Francs. (Several children from different parts of the world performed on stage. Among them was a young woman who put on a traditional Balinese Dance. Bali is an island in Indonesia.

Amma in Holland

13 – 15 October 2007, s’ Hertogenbosch, Holland
From Paris, Amma travelled to ‘s Hertogenbosh, in Holland for three days of programmes on October 13, 14, 15.
The newly custom built ‘Meals On Wheels’ travelling Kitchen was inaugurated here, {new}and will serve as a the main kitchen throughout most of the European Tour.

Many devotees volunteered in the kitchen, helping to serve the delicious vegetarian meals that were prepared in the new kitchen.

In the midst of the devotees there was young girl named Sudhamayi who sat next to Amma during Bhajans and was given a microphone to sing along!

Later, a number of Amma’s children entertained the gathered crowd with songs.

cinema-verite-award

Cinema Verite Honours Amma

A Saint, an Angel, a Person of Goodness:
12 October 2007 — La Bastille, Paris, France

“To introduce a saint is a big job, but to film an angel is something else entirely,” said Academy Award-nominee Sharon Stone upon presenting Amma with the ‘Prix Cinéma Vérité 2007′ Award in Paris. By “filming an angel,” Stone was referring to the 2005 Jan Kounen documentary about Amma, Darshan.

“The film Darshan is extremely inspiring,” said Stone. “But the life of a person who gives themselves in service is something we can all aspire to because to do so is a choice.” Stone then continued to laud Amma’s life of love, compassion and service, referring to Amma as “a saint, angel and person of acts of goodness.”

On behalf of Cinema Verite, Stone then presented Amma with a silver necklace and locket.

amma-cinema-verite

Cinema Verite is a French film organization focused on creating awareness regarding human-rights issues. The organization was honouring Amma in acknowledgment of her role as a force for world peace and harmony.

After bestowing the award, Cinema Verite requested Amma to share her thoughts about the current state of the world, with particular focus on the increasing incidents of war and natural disasters.

“There verily is no one more qualified to speak about peace than Amma. Not only is her life lived in peace, it awakens peace,” said Manuel de la Roche, the producer of Darshan, just prior to Amma’s speech.

–Tulasi

Related news link

BBC.com : Film award honours ‘hug guru’