Bengal Cyclone Aila relief

25 May 2009 – 7 June 2009 — South 24 Parganas District, West Bengal, India

Cyclone Aila hit West Bengal and Bangladesh on 25 May 2009. By the time it dissipated a day later, 330 people were dead, more than 8,000 were missing and one million were homeless. Between Indian and Bangladesh, damages exceeded $40 million US.

Volunteers of Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) immediately began relief work, with doctors from Amrita Institute of Medical Science in Kochi, Kerala, flying to Kolkata on 29th May. A medical camp commenced on 30th May in the village of Maipith Naginabad (South 24 Parganas District, West Bengal).

“The cyclone had destroyed the entire village,” said Brahmachari Sadashiva, the monastic in charge of the Cyclone Aila relief work. “Even the roads were destroyed. We had to unload our supplies and shift them into small trolleys and also carry them as on top of our heads in some places in order to reach the village school. In fact, in Maipith Naginabad the school was the only building still standing.”

Another camp was conducted in a remote tribal village named Deulbari Debipur, deep in the Sundarbans Jungle (infamous for Bengal tigers). “Deulbari was only accessible by boat. The roads had been totally washed away leaving only deep gorges in their place,” said Sadashiva.

“In Deulbari, the doctors had to treat several people with severe dehydration,” said Sadashiva. “We had to hang the saline bottles from pillars on the veranda in order to treat all the people. Soon they all stabilized and were able to return home.”

The camps were conducted for a total of 10 days, with the doctors treating approximately 3,000 people, dispensing more than one-lakh rupees worth of free medicine ($2,080 US). MAM volunteers also distributed approximately 800 pieces clothing and blankets, served 6,000 free meals and gave away two tons of rice.

“We’ve never received help like this before,” said Manik, age 33, of Maipith Naginabad. “Cyclones come from time to time. During such calamities groups will visit us for a day or two, give something and go away. No group before has stayed so long, cooked for us and fed us with so much love.”

When the volunteer work was concluded on 7th June, two village youth, Gautam and Prasad, expressed their desire to one day come to work as volunteers for Amma’s humanitarian activities.

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Amma in Toronto

Toronto, Canada – 25 July 2009

Welcoming Amma to the city, is the councilor of Markham, Mr. Logan Kanapathi, said that “The world needs more leaders like Amma, the world needs more leaders like Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King. That’s the way we can serve the world. That’s the way we can emancipate the less fortunate and serve the people. Thank you for coming to Toronto Amma.”

Mr. Mike Smith, 3 times Canadian Olympian in Decathlon & Sports commentator for CBC National Televison,  came to receive Amma’s blessings.

Miss Bonnie Crombie, Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville, send a  message to Amma.

With the program in Toronto, Canada, Amma concludes her two month,  Japan -America – Canada yatra.

Amma in Marlborough

Marlborough, Boston 

18 Jul 2009 

 The city Mayor of Marlborough Nancy E Stevens handed over a proclamation to Amma for Amma’s outstanding service to the world.

Diane L Eck, author of the book “a new religious America” and Harvard University Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, and the chair for the Committee on the Study of Religion and Master of Lowell House and Reverend Dr. Dorothy A Austin, (Associate Minister in The Memorial Church at Harvard University and Chaplain to the University, Lecturer in Psychology and Religion at Harvard Divinity School and Co-Master of Lowell House) welcomed Amma to Boston.

Doug E Fresh supplies the beats for Darshan

9 July 2009 — New York City, New York, USA

dougie-freshDuring Amma’s final night of darshan in New York, hip-hop innovator Doug E Fresh—also known as ‘The Human Beatbox’—sought her blessings. It was the second time the renowned rapper and hip-hop legend had attended Amma’s programs, but the first time he performed at one.

Accompanied by tabla, Fresh put on a half-hour performance while Amma gave darshan. Praising Amma on the mike with his rhymes, Fresh had everyone in the Manhattan Center on their feet, despite it being the wee hours of the morning.

After his performance, Fresh recollected his first meeting with Amma the year prior. “[A friend] told me about Amma being here. … And when he did he said ‘Yo! You got to meet her. Her energy is incredible. She’s a beautiful spirit. So you feel love.’ And I said, ‘Is this real?’ And he said, ‘I’m telling you!’ And when I went there, you know she gave me a hug. And after that—I remember that energy. ‘Cause I left and I felt really, really free. Just really ‘good.’ That’s the best way to describe it. Just free energy. Just positive pure energy. …

“This time it was even better than the last time. The energy was just incredible. She is such a fun person—and a loving person. It’s not just the energy of what I picked up the last time. I picked up fun, youthful, bright, exciting energy. And it made me feel, ‘Well, alright, … let’s get this party started up in here.'”

Regarding his performance, Fresh said, “We just created something from the energy that Amma created by being in the room. So it was a gift to her. Because she is always giving to so many people, like with no tiredness. Endlessly just giving, giving, giving. So I felt somebody should give her something back. And whatever it is I can give back, you know I’m gonna give it because I see she carries that light.”

Fresh said he hoped his coming to Amma would encourage other artists from the hip-hop and music community in general to come and experience Amma’s darshan. “You’re just getting pure energy with no ulterior motive—just want to make the world a better place. How could you be mad at that? … I think a lot of people need to feel her energy because it will make a difference in their life.”

When Fresh left the Manhattan Center he had a bag full of Amma’s CDs. He joked that people should pay attention—that they very well may hear an Amma sample on one of his upcoming records.

—Kannadi

We are blessed to live with Amma

12 July 2009 — McLean, Virginia, USA

Upon Amma’s 13th visit to the Washington D.C. area, she was welcomed by former Indian Ambassador T.P. Srinivasan and Rajiv Ranjan, a representative of the Ambassador of India to the United States, Meera Shankar.

T.P. Srinivasan, who has met with Amma several times over the past 10 years and was born only two miles from the village of Amma’s birth, praised Amma as one who not only speaks spirituality but puts its teachings into action through her life.

“She is not just a messenger of love,” he said. “She is someone who has used her hands and her ability to bring solace to the people all around the world. We are blessed that we are living in an age when Amma is living. We are blessed that we have a chance to see her in flesh and blood. We are blessed that we can feel her love and enjoy her divine embrace. Future generations will hardly believe … that such a person, in flesh and blood, ever lived on this earth. She is such a blessing to this world. And we hope and pray that we will have the privilege of having her for a long time to come.”

Rajiv Ranjan also addressed the gathering. He said, “Amma is an inspiration to all of us. She symbolizes the collective spiritual wisdom, social consciousness and compassion of India. Her efforts at rehabilitation and integration of the weakest, the most needy and disadvantaged throughout India, Africa and the rest of the world are without parallel.”

Rajiv Ranjan concluded by presenting Amma with a plaque on behalf of Ambassador Sankar in recognition of Amma’s “global humanitarian work and environmental conservation efforts.”

Amma endorses the Earth Charter

7-9 July 2009 — New York, New York, USA

The Earth Charter—a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful world—has been translated into 40 languages and signed by more than 5,000 organizations. The charter started as an initiative of the United Nations in 1987 and was finalized in 2000 as a civil-society project. On July 7, 2009 in New York, Amma also added her signature to its list of endorsees.

Steven Rockefeller, who coordinated the drafting of the charter by consulting representatives of the world’s major religions, was on hand to welcome Amma to New York and to request her to endorse the Earth Charter’s principles. The Earth Charter’s ethical vision proposes that environmental protection, human rights, equitable human development, and peace are interdependent and indivisible. Steven Rockefeller is the son of former United States Vice President Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller and fourth-generation member of the renowned Rockefeller family.

“What a great blessing it is to be here tonight in the presence of Amma,” Rockefeller said. “I would like to extend deep thanks to Amma… for her very gracious offer to endorse the Earth Charter. In addition I would like to express heartfelt thanks to Amma for being a spiritual and social leader who, through love for all people, her teachings, her many humanitarian good works and her educational initiatives and her work on behalf of the environment is helping us make that transition to the better world that is envisioned in the Earth Charter.”

Rockefeller continued, “When I think of Amma and her life of devotion and service, I see a shining example for all of us of the spirit of reverence, compassion and care. … Amma, all of us associated with the Earth Charter Initiative want to share with you our deep gratitude for the light and joy you have brought into the world.”

Also on hand to welcome Amma to New York were M.S. Singh Puri, Ambassador & Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations since March 2009; and Upendra Chivakula, a member of the New Jersey General Assembly and State Office.

After garlanding Amma, M.S. Singh said, “What I see here is truly transformational—the beauty of love and devotion—all of it, Amma, which you have made possible. Thank you very much for your blessing for all of us here. … I think these are times that the world is going through where we need blessings, goodness and doing the right thing. We are extremely blessed and honored by your presence.”

Upendra Chivakula expressed similar sentiments. “The message of love and service is universal. It transcends across religions, languages, communities. I think it is wonderful that in the 21st century we have Amma that is able to spread the message of love and service through hugs and trying to feel some of the difficulties that we face in this mundane human life. … We should take her message and each and every one of us must become an ambassador for goodwill.”

River Promenade clean-up project

Sunday, 21st June, 2009

The Clean-Up of River Promenade Père Laval was one of the projects AYUDH Mauritius had committed to at its inception in February 2009.
The Municipal Council of Vacoas/Phoenix, keen on AYUDH’s initiative, helpfully provided rakes and baskets as well at a waste truck at the disposal of the Mauritian youths.

Thus properly equipped, the youths jumped into action, collecting heaps of litter which they eventually disposed of at the back of the truck. Given the large amount of littering, one main area was targeted and was thoroughly cleaned.

The once badly littered area is now an inviting space of pristine greenery. Through constructive channeling of their energies, the young AYUDH members have realized the difference that even a few committed people can make through inspired action.

AYUDH Mauritius considers that the momentum is now set for the team to carry on with the project and take further initiatives in view of preventing littering in a location which they are aiming to restore to its natural beauty.

Independence Day in Chicago

July 3 – 5, 2009 — Lombard, Illinois, USA

Amma’s annual programs in Chicago fell on America’s Independence Day Weekend. As fireworks burst in the summer skies celebrating the United State’s freedom from the British, Amma and devotees celebrated a different type of freedom.

On the first day, William J. Mueller, the Lombard Village President, came to the hall in order to welcome Amma. “It is an honor to welcome Mother here today—a living saint. Thank you for being here with us.”

Mueller went on to speak about his personal triumphs in fighting cancer, all of which he attributes to faith and prayer. “[Amma’s] the vehicle to reach to our God in prayer and healing,” he said. “The first time I [prayed], I was in doubt. And there are probably some here today that are in doubt too. But let me assure you that it is the real thing.”

He concluded by saying that he would include Amma in his prayers. “Tonight when I say a prayer, I will thank the Lord for Mother and the work that she does.”

On the second day, Ashok Kumar Attri, the Consul General of India in Chicago, came for darshan. “We don’t come here as guests,” he said, referring to his wife and himself. “We come here as fellow devotees”.

Speaking about his first two years in Chicago—at the beginning of which he received Amma’s darshan for the first time—Consul General Attri said, “It has been a specially blessed period for us. … We feel this has been because of Amma’s blessings to us. Amma blessed us to serve all of you. And that has been very precious to us. … Serving humanity as a service to all-mighty God. That has been the motto of Amma, and I bow my head in reverence to this ideal.”

Amma in Dallas

Amma’s annual visit to Dallas, Texas took place on the 27 and 28th of June. Thousands came to experience Amma’s darshan and to imbibe her spiritual wisdom. Among those who welcomed Amma were prolific artist, writer and social activist, Mary Ann Thompson- Frenk. Throughout the programs, devotees put on a number of cultural performances in honour of Amma. Amma’s youth group, Amrita Yuva Dharmadhara, brought saplings for Amma to bless as part of their reforestation project. One group of devotees performed original gospel music inspired by Amma and her life of compassionate service.