Humanitarian Programs Launched on Amritavarsham 60

Amrita Self-Reliant Villages (Amrita SeRVe)—is a “village adoption” program through which the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) has selected 101 villages throughout India with the goal of helping them establish the required infrastructure to become self-reliant role-model villages for the country.

A Rs. 50-crore [$8 million US] relief-and-rehabilitation program for the flood-ravaged Kedarnath region of Uttarakhand, pledging to rebuild 500 houses in 42 villages, as well as establish other infrastructural aid.

MAM also extended its pensions program by 10,000 beneficiaries—from 59,000 to 69,000.

MAM extended its scholarships-for-the-poor program by 5,000 beneficiaries—from 41,000 to 46,000 beneficiaries.

MAM provided Rs. 100,000 in financial aid to each family bereaved by two recent disasters in Kerala: a landslide in Idukki and a fishing-boat accident in Alappuzha.

MAM pledged to conduct Rs. 50 crore [$8 million US] in totally free transplants, heart surgeries and cancer treatments through AIMS Hospital.

And it also unveiled many prototypes its various R&D departments have been working on for the benefit of humankind, including Amrita Mitra, an inconspicuous personal safety system that alerts police and family when the wearer hits a panic button, and Amrita Spandanam, a wireless ECG-monitoring system for heart patients, amongst others. The prototypes for these and other innovations released on the birthday have been designed so as to keep manufacturing costs as low as possible so that they may eventually be provided free to the poor and at low cost in general.

The celebrations were also home to a three-day ritual prayer for world peace.


Waste Management at Amritavarsham60

28 Sep 2013, Amritapuri – Amritavarsham60 Celebrations

Volunteers from around the world came together at Amritavarsham60 to help manage the waste from the huge crowds that descended on Amritapuri. Helpers from as far away as the USA, Italy, Finland and France toiled with Amrita University students and locals to sort rubbish and compost food leftovers from the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the program.

Mahita Goris heading the Amritapuri Waste Management said it was a big team effort.

Volunteers carrying the trash cans

“Workers from many countries volunteered to help,” she said. “One hundred people were working every day at the waste management center at the Ashram in shifts ranging from two hours to eight hours, from 7am to 7pm. We also had 250 students from Amrita University on the ground at the site.”

Four vehicles worked full-time transporting the waste. General waste for recycling was transported back to the Ashram for sorting, however, thirty male volunteers from Kozhikode helped to pick up food waste, which was then deposited at the new Eco Village located near Amrita University.

“One of the biggest achievements of the team was that one third of the entire waste from Amritavarsham60 was composted at the new Eco Village, which is located near the site of the birthday,” Mahita said. “This is a great result for such a large event.”

The volunteers at the Ashram continue to sort trash one week after the birthday, sorting an average of 40 x 120 litre bins of plastic and 30 x 120 litre of paper every day.

“The efforts continue!,” Mahita smiled.

– Lasita


MAM launches 50-Crore Kedarnath Relief-and-Rehabilitation Program

The Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) is launching a 50-crore relief-and-rehabilitation program to help victims of June 2013 Kedarnath flash-flooding and landslides. This project will be officially launched during Amritavarsham60—the 60th Birthday Celebrations of world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, fondly known throughout the world as “Amma.”


MAM started its Kedarnath-region relief-and-rehabilitation soon after the flooding. By 1 July 2013, a team of volunteers—including doctors, nurses, monastic disciples of Mata Amritanandamayi—set up a base camp at Agastya Muni in Rudraprayag District.

More doctors, nurses, techs and other MAM volunteers soon joined the team, and an ambulance and telemedicine van were soon sent from the Amrita Institute of Medicine (also known as AIMS or Amrita Hospital), MAM’s super-specialty hospital in Kochi, Kerala. MAM volunteers provided free medical consultations and medicine to approximately 8,000 people in the disaster-stuck area from July 1 – 20.

Aside from at the base camp in Agastya Muni, the MAM volunteers also travelled to a number of other villages to provide medical care, including Siddha Saur, Rudraprayag, Devli, Lambgondi, Andrewadi, Triyuginarayan, Toshi, Basukedar, Chandrapuri and Laksar.

Through its 50-crore relief-and-rehabilitation package, MAM will build approximately 500 houses—the sum total of all the homes destroyed by the flooding in 42 selected villages in the districts of Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi. These homes will be built on common sites provided by the Uttarakhand State Government.

MAM will also build centrally located schools and medical clinics to service the disaster victims. Impoverished children from these villages will be enrolled in MAM’s Vidyamritam scholarships-for-the-poor program. Widows, physically and mentally handicapped people from these villages as well as others in need of financial aid will be enrolled in MAM’s Amrita Nidhi pensions-for-life program. MAM will also expand its AmritaSREE (Amrita Self-Reliance Education & Employment) Program to help women in the villages start small home-businesses. MAM will also construct and run an orphanage/children’s care-home in the area for children who no longer have a proper care structure in place.

MAM has been heavily active in disaster relief since 2001 when it rebuilt three entire villages (a total of 1,200 earthquake-resistant homes) following the Bhuj earthquake. Since, it has provided extensive medical aid, food and other supplies following flooding in Bihar (2008), Gujarat (2006) and Mumbai (2005). Following the floods in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (2009), it offered similar aid and rebuilt 1,000 homes. It also provided aid in West Bengal following Cyclone Aila (2009) and the Kashmir earthquake (2004).

MAM’s most extensive disaster-relief followed the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, wherein it built 6,200 tsunami-resistant homes, provided 700 fishing boats, built an evacuation bridge and provided vocational training for 2,500 tsunami-effected villagers.

Outside of India, Amma’s devotees, operating under the name Embracing the World (ETW), provided $1 million U.S. to help children orphaned in the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami (2011) and contributed $1 million U.S. to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund following the deadly hurricanes of 2005. ETW also provided medical supplies, blankets and scholarships to 30 students following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

MAM has already built more than 45,000 homes for the homeless throughout India as part of its ongoing Amrita Kuteeram housing project. It often constructs entire villages of homes, complete with medical centers, community halls, roads and bore wells. States and Union Territories that have benefitted from the Amrita Kuteeram program include Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Puducherry, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andaman Islands and Kerala.

MAM is currently providing 41,000 scholarships for impoverished children throughout India through its Vidyamritam scholarship program.

MAM is currently providing pensions to 59,000 widows and physically and mentally challenged people throughout India through its Amrita Nidhi program.

Through AmritaSREE, MAM has already helped put more than 100,000 women into more than 6,000 self-help groups.


Amma, your legacy is for a lifetime: Shashi Tharoor

27 Sep 2013, Amritapuri – Amritavarsham60 Celebrations

Shashi Tharoor, the Hon. Minister of HRD, Government of India, gave an inspiring speech about Amma, her life spent in the service of humanity, and the wonderful occasion that her 60th Birthday brings. He was launching the Amrita RITE-Rural India Tablet Education for After-school Tutoring and Adult Literacy to be used in 101 adopted villages,on the occasion of Amma’s 60th birthday at Amritapuri on September 27.

Amrita CREATE has been at the forefront of the MAM’s initiatives in creating user-friendly technology to foster basic education and literacy. Today, Amrita CREATE officially launched a unique tablet-based learning program called Amrita RITE (Amrita Rural India Tablet Education), offered to the world. Amrita RITE will be an integral part after school tutoring programmes and adult-literacy programmes in the 101 villages it is adopting its just launched Amrita Self-Reliant Village Programme.


“We give gifts to a person on her Birthday. But today, Mataji, as she has done for 60 years, is giving us a gift. Amma’s birthday means that She is giving us all a gift, not taking anything. Her lesson has been a lesson of giving, and today also, as she has done for 60 years, she is giving to all of us. We have seen so many programmes here: Disaster relief for Uttarakhand, Medical aid for small children, help for the homeless, school learning, electronic tablets, book releases.”

He felt that the contributions made by Amma to society were not just about simple needs and wants. “For betterment of society, people approach elected officials to do this or the other, all for social development. But, everyone comes to Amma for one thing, something you cannot get from these officials – Peace of mind and Love. Through her darshan, mall their sorrows vanish.”


“Throughout Kerala’s history, many spiritual leaders have walked this land – Jagad Guru Adi Sankara, who began the spiritual rediscovery of Hinduism. Today, we can add Amma, to that illustrious list. However, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi is unique. Adi Sankara was a spiritual leader. Sree Narayana Guru and Chattambi Swamikal were not only spiritual leaders, but were also social reformers. But in terms of social reforms, only one among these four individuals stand out—and that is Amma. We are celebrating our Amma who stands for public service, service of humanity – that is her specialty!

I remember another great soul –not a Malayali—Swami Vivekananda. He walked this land, 120 years ago, through Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram, finally reaching Kanyakumari, where He meditated, and emboldened his resolve. But, when He did so, He always reiterated—why can’t sanyasis go from village to village, helping people to become better, to become literate – not just spiritually, but through all these social projects that we have seen examples of today.

Even in my own field of education, we have seen such wonderful contributions from Amrita University and the Amrita Research Establishment. A-VIEW has become a major project, which we have taken on here at the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and which we appreciate, as a tool to connect the Universities and enhance E learning.


He concluded by stressing the long lasting impact of Amma’s love and service, and what really needs to be cherished on such a landmark occasion.
“Amma, your legacy is for a lifetime. We celebrate a day today, Her Birthday. We also have to celebrate Her Life, Her future and the gifts She has given to all of us for years to come.”

The Vidya behind Tala Vadya

27 Sep 2013, Amritapuri – Amritavarsham60

The evening of Amritavarsham 60 witnessed a scintillating performance on Odissi percussion instruments led by eminent Mardala player Guru Dhaneswar Swain. Tabla, Bhol, Kanjani, Harmonium, Mardalam, Nishaan and Flute together produced systematic beats. The music, beats and outstanding talent of Guru Dhaneswar created a musical extravaganza that kept the audience engrossed in a spiritual symphony. The mardal exponent is well known for his energetic directions and verbal wonders, and he proved it today through a power packed performance that described the dance of Lord Krishna through Brindavan. Each step was portrayed beautifully, as thoughts of Lord Krishna filled the minds of devotees everywhere.

He used the traditional rhythm patterns to create a unique tempo which started with a sonorous melody and culminated with high speed. The rhythm and the beats perfectly synchronized with the bols (rhythmic syllables) in conformity with different notations produced a melody that delighted the music lovers which filled the hearts of the audience with new excitements and emotions. Guru Shri Swain was assisted by Guru Rankanidhi Pradhan on Tabla, Ajay Choudhury on Khanjani, Baibhaba Kumar on Dholak, Kalindi Charan Parida on Khol, Budhanath Swain on Mardala, Rajendra Swain and Surendra Tripathy on Harmonium, Shri Sanjeev Kundu on Violin, Shri Rabi Naryan Barik on Jodi Nagara, Shri Biswaranjan Nanda on Tabla, Shri Soubhagya Naryan Chhotray, Shri Bibhuti Bhusan Beura, Shri Pratap Mishra and Guru Dhaneswar Swain on Mardala apart from rendering melodious bols. It was a wonderful performance that had the audience clapping and cheering to each beat. It felt as though one was right there, in Brindavan, watching the leelas of Lord Krishna.

By the end of his performance, the audience was definitely energized and ready, and like the gopis’ minds being filled with the thoughts of Krishna and his divine dance, the devotees’ thoughts were filled with Amma, and her divine love.

– Rahul Raj, Suseela Devi S Nair


Gotipua: Graceful Masculine Dance – a Worship to Mahakali!

27 Sep 2013, Amritavarhsm60
Odisha has left everyone here at Amritapuri absolutely amazed as there were different styles, types and forms of Odissi dance showcased here over the last few days! And yet again a fascinating performance by Guru Bichitrananda Swain and his group of dancers brought bliss to everyone’s hearts!


Director of the leading dance institution, Rudrakash, Guru Bichitrananda Swain has emerged as one of the foremost gurus of Odissi. An exceptional performer and instructor, he has trained under the stalwarts of Odissi – Gurus Kelucharan Mohapatra, Ramaniranjan Jena, Gangadhar Pradhan and Sanjukta Panigrahi. One of the leading choreographers in the new generation of Odissi, he founded and nurtured the Rudraksh Foundation to promote a wider acceptance of the male aesthetic in what is a predominantly female dance form. Today, Rudraksh is one of the important dance institutions catering to international sensibilities but also rooted firmly in the traditions established by the founding fathers of Odissi.

Bichitrananda composes dance movements and training modules differently for the male and female dancers. Since the male dancers perform in bare body, he warns them to keep their body in proper shape. He has observed that women are more suitable for Odissi’s exclusive postures. But male dancers have a stronger body and footwork that meets the demand of some exclusive characters and movements as well. However, he feels it is easier to train a girl than a boy as in the case of the latter, the body takes longer time to be tuned. Today’s stellar performance by the group exhibits the sheer skill and talent of Bichitrananda in training his students.


The dance staged by 8 male dancers was amazing! The body movements and eye expressions were remarkable! With females having an upper hand in classical dance today, the dance was an answer to any prejudice against male dancers. The exquisite masculine grace and the slow well executed movements caught attention of devotees and the dedication and perfection of dancers kept eyes glued to the stage!


The worship to Goddess Maha Kali was an ideal offering to The Universal Mother, our Kali Maa, Our beloved Amma, on this auspicious day! Two female dancers joined the male dancers to make it even more captivating. The Kali formation filled our hearts with bliss! Seeing Kali in Chamundi, Bhadra Kali and Maha Kali roopas was miraculous. The shraddha and bhakti bhava in each of their movements and expressions was evident!

With a high aesthetic quotient, the show portrayed both talent and devotion!

– Varsha Suresh Kumar


Symphony across the World – Shankar Tucker and Maati Baani

27 Sep 2013, Amritapuri – Amritavarsham60

Amritavarsham60 had seen some iconic performers, and some mind blowing offerings of prayer and art. Tonight was no different, with clarinet whiz Shankar Tucker and the famous world music band Maati Baani, and the great singer Mame Khan.


Shankar Tucker is a clarinetist and composer based in the USA and a devotee of Amma. Growing up in Massachusetts, he was christened Shankar by Amma. He was drawn towards Indian classical music through the works of John McLaughlin. After learning orchestral clarinet performance at the New England Conservatory, he then became a student of Peter Row, a sitar player. He then received a grant to study under the flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, also one of the icons that performed here. His online music series called ‘The Shruti Box’ is a hit worldwide through YouTube and SoundCloud.

Maati Baani means Language of the Earth, and they work on collaborating with artists from rural areas, street musicians and top class artists from around the world. Their recent composition, ‘Tore Matware Naina’, a blend of Hindustani and French was featured in the movie hit ‘David’.

The power packed ensemble included vocals from Nirali Kartik, Vidya Iyer and Rohan Kymal, with Kartik Shah and Akshay Dwivedi on guitar, Puneet Gabriel and Sarthak Mudgal on the percussions.


Their first performance was the upbeat, foot tapping number, ‘Tore Matware Naina’, with Nirali mesmerizing the audience with her sweet, dynamic vocals, and Shankar accompanying masterfully on the clarinet. The songs began with slow, melodious rendering of the clarinet, with the vocals and percussions creating an atmosphere of the true celebration that this day really is. Mame Khan brought the ever enchanting sufi element into the proceedings, with his deep, resounding vocals touching the minds of all present. Vidya Iyer’s soothing vocals in ‘Rang Lo’ and the hit song ‘Munbe Vaa’ set the right balance with the audience of eager university students. Rohan Kymal’s ‘Caught in the Rain’ left the audience truly refreshed, and his hit number ‘Ore Piya’ and ‘Rolling in the Deep’ brought the crowd to their feet! Nirali and Vidya combined for a beautiful duet that once again sparked great enthusiasm among the devotees.

It was wonderful to see such a diverse variety of performers unite through music, and it was touching to see them offer their hearts and souls to Amma with immense prayer and devotion. As Vidya Iyer aptly put it at the end of the performance, “Thank you Amma, We love you… Happy Birthday!”

-Varsha Suresh, Susheela S Nair


We are all her children, equal in front of her

27 Sep 2013, Amritapuri – Amritavarham60

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi (known as Laxmi) is a transgender rights activist, Hindi film actress in Mumbai, India. She is the first transgender person to represent Asia Pacific in the UN. Laxmi is also a famous Bharatanatyam dancer, dance instructor and owns nine dance schools. She also runs an NGO called Astitva in Mumbai for the welfare of sexual minorities.


The performance started off with Amma’s song “Sharanam Ambike”.

Laxmi Tripathi along with three other artists, in their gorgeous Marathi costumes, danced to old nostalgic Marathi songs. Then came the crew’s powerful performance on the Tamil song “Maari Amma” in which they used our beloved Amma’s photo to enact the intensity of a goddess’ power and love. During her performance Laxmi stopped by to call out “Amma pon Amma” and Amma turned around to see her and applauded her performance. It was endearing to see Amma appreciate Laxmi’s performance, and the smile that lit up Laxmi’s face showed how much our Amma’s love means to all of us. Another highlight of the performance was the Hanuman Chalisa based dance of Lord Anjaneya’s exploits and the depiction of Lord Krishna’s story for which the whole team danced with contemporary steps that amazed the audience.


The team had a lot of diversity in their performance, not only in terms of the steps and movements, but also in the way they sequenced their songs and styles– it reflected both the past and the present of dance. It is to be noted though, that they all expressed love towards their art and Amma. During this remarkable act the team danced to songs with various kinds of emotions, situations, languages, expressions and culture, but they only convey one thing throughout – “For Amma no matter what we are, from where we are, or how we are… We are all her children, equal in front of her.”

– Rahul Raj




The quintessence of devotion through dance by Manju Warrier

26 Sep 2013, Amritapuri – Amritavarsham60 Celebrations

It was a great pleasure and a treat to experience the scintillating performance of Manju Warrier – a remarkable and a renowned Kutchipudi dancer and also an actress in the Malayalam film industry – at Amritapuri, on the occasion of “Amritavarsham 60″ celebrations.


Manju – a perfect epitome of a child prodigy – is said to have danced, even before learning to walk!! She started learning Bharathanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi at a tender age of four. Even when she was at school, Manju showed extraordinary talent in dance, and won many accolades.

As an adage goes, “Talent is boundless of time”, within a short span of just 3 years in the film industry, she emerged as one of the most admirable personalities ever. For sheer talent, awards come knocking the door!

On stage at Amritavarsham 60, Manju was started her performance with pranams at the lotus feet of Amma, with the sloka “namaste! Jagadekamaataah”. Subsequently, the verses “jaya jaya devi ..jaya jaya janani…Amma ..” along with the faster dance note was her special gift to Amma on her 60th birthday.

Then came a well laid out story line on Lord Balakrishna. The facial expressions conveyed everything to the audience. The commanding and motherly Yashoda, the shyness of Radha and the ever playful Lord Krishna himself, were depicted by Manju through her sublime expressions with so much perfection and ease – mark of a consummate actress as well as dancer. The highlight of the song was the scene where Lord Krishna tried to steal butter. The vocalists and side artists provided excellent support, as Manju sailed through the glory of the Lord. The entire story was depicted through a single line “Govardhana Giridhari”, sung in different ragas, for different scenes of the story.

As minutes rolled by, the devotees were even more enthralled, and it, of course, had the special attention of Amma herself, who, amidst giving darshan to the beeline of devotees, paused exactly after each item and applauded wholeheartedly. Amma didn’t miss out even the minutest opportunity to encourage this great person!


The performance ended aptly with a Durga Devi stuthi. Nobody could have asked for a better finish, as Manju, through her dance depicted that Amma was a true incarnation of Goddess Devi. The rapture of applause at the end of it signaled that the audience could not agree more with this depiction. Manju turned towards Amma’s picture at the back of the stage with folded hands as if offering her performance to her.
She did not miss the opportunity to say a few words to thank Amma. In her concluding remarks, she said that it was her love for Amma that was portrayed by her performance.

– Varsha


Not easy for a State Government to distribute so much as Amma does

27 Sep 2013, Amritapuri – Amritavarsham60 Celebrations
Maharashtra Governor, His Excellency K Shankara Narayanan, delivered a wonderful speech detailing the uniqueness of Amma, and her contributions to the world. “Beloved Amma, who loves this vast world, transcending caste and religion. We are all born in this world; because of we have our mothers. But, the people of this whole world, only have One Mother—Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. Our Amma.”


Talking about the magnitude of humanitarian activities taken up by Amma, he said: “as I sat here, I was trying to calculate all those activities, all those deeds that Amma has done for the betterment of this world.
For those suffering from ailments, poverty, homelessness, illiteracy – she has distributed more than 1000 crores of rupees! I was the finance minster in this state. It is not easy for a State Government to distribute so much money.”

She has distributed more than 1000 crores of rupees! I was the finance minster in this state. It is not easy for a State Government to distribute so much money.

He talked about how today’s world has the rich becoming richer, and the mentality of giving, selflessly, needs to be cultivated among all citizens. ‘What is the point of people living with millions and billions in their hands, if they themselves cannot even have a cup of tea with sugar in it! ‘O Brahma, why are they given such a life?’ I have thought many times. Money has to come, but it also has to be given.’

He praised Amma’s efforts and the activities that she has undertaken to improve the lives of every single person. He stressed that the event Amritavarsham 60 as an international conference, a unification of cultures and a representation of love and unity – all that Amma stands for. He concluded his short speech with the following words: ‘We only have one human being like this in our world. One Amma. That Amma may be able to continue doing such amazing deeds, and that Brahma grants her a long life to keep doing this forever.’