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Partnership programs in LA

14-16 June, Los Angeles, America Yatra 2016

Amma returned to the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel for three days of programs on June 14th-16th.

During the first evening program, a representative of MA Center-LA announced that the Center has recently launched two Embracing the World programs in partnership with three local non-profit organizations. Through partnerships with New Directions for Veterans and with IDEPSA Community Job Center for Day Laborers , IAM classes (Integrated Amrita Meditation) will be taught to disabled war veterans and those suffering from PTSD, as well as to day laborers to help reduce stress in their daily lives as they struggle to support their families.

In an additional partnership with City Plants, MA Center – LA has committed to planting 5,000 trees in low tree canopy cover neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

Representatives from the three non-profit organizations – Veterans Services, IDEPSCA and City Plants – were on hand to garland Amma.

During the programs, local satsangs sang bhajans and local devotees danced traditional Indian dances. At the end of the second evening program, Amma delighted everyone by singing two new bhajans.

-Tulasi

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Amma in San Ramon, California

7 -12 June, San Ramon, America Yatra 2016

After Seattle, Amma headed to the San Ramon Ashram where she has been holding programs for the past 27 years.

Amma held three days of public programs followed by a retreat, concluding with Devi Bhava on June 12th.

During Amma’s darshan time, satsangs groups from around the Bay Area and Northern California region including students from the two area BalaKendra groups sang bhajans, danced to traditional Indian music, and put on plays.

During the retreat, local devotees put on a play that began with Parvati Devi asking Lord Shiva if the devotion of a true devotee is more powerful than the Lord himself. The play then depicted the story of how Hanuman’s unwavering devotion to Lord Rama turned even the most powerful of Lord Rama’s arrows into flowers. This proved Parvati’s statement true and underscored the power of devotion.

Balakendra students also put on a play based on the teachings of Adi Shankaracharya demonstrating how to be a good devotee.

-Tulasi

 

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Amma in Seattle Xfinity

4-5 June, Seattle, America Yatra 2016

Amma began her 30th North American tour on June 5th with two days of programs at the XFINITY Arena in Everett, WA, USA. People came from all over the world to meet Amma and receive her darshan.

Seattle Foundation Board Member and noted philanthropist Linda Parks garlanded Amma welcomed her on the first day.

During the programs, local satsangs sang bhajans. Local BalaKendra students put on a play about Sudhama and Krishna emphasizing the blessings of innocent devotion.

At the end of the first evening program, Amma delighted everyone by singing two bhajans.

The day before the programs, Amma visited the new Seattle Ashram located in Snohomish, Washington, where she served breakfast to the local devotees, meditated, and sang bhajans.

-Tulasi

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Amma in Mauritius

25-26 April 2016, M A Center, Mauritius

With utmost love and yearning for Her presence, devotees awaited Her arrival at the ashram with great fanfare while chanting “Om Amriteshwariye Namah.” Seeing Her entering the ashram filled our hearts with contentment after years of waiting had came to an end when she arrived in Mauritius on the 24th of April.

As she walked to the stage, Amma acknowledged each and everyone. Her presence filled the ashram with divine energy. Amma then sang a few bhajans and distributed prasad dinner to everyone.

Amma also received a warm welcome back to Mauritius by different dignitaries. Amongst them were Vice President of the Republic of Mauritius, His Excellency, Mr. Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, and the Right Honorable Lady, Mrs. Sarojini Jugnauth, spouse of the Prime Minister. Several other dignitaries were there to welcome Amma.

Amma’s arrival signaled the launch of several new humanitarian initiatives. Over the past few years, the Amma Centre in Mauritius has been providing a monthly ration to many households experiencing financial difficulties. During Amma’s visit, the numbers of beneficiaries was extended to 60 additional families who received their first monthly ration and blessings from Amma.

Saplings were also distributed to devotees to encourage them to take care of Mother Nature.

 

The two-day program consisted of Amma’s satsang, bhajans and darshan. Each and every person who came to the program benefited from Amma’s wisdom, compassion and love. Amma’s discourses in Malayalam were translated into French and Creole. During Her talk, Amma emphasized on the importance of protecting Mother Nature and the benefits of cultivating our own vegetables. Amma said that each and everyone have a responsibility towards the environment and we should take a vow to plant trees each year. She talked about the loss of values throughout the world and how technologies are being misused. Nowadays there is less concern for elders in society. Amma emphasized that meditation, spiritual practices, and selfless service should be part of our daily activities.

This year, Amma’s children from Mauritius composed a local song dedicated to Amma: “Nou Mama Amma. prends dans to lebras, donne nou beaucoup couraze, donne nou to la lumiere Amma” (Our mother Amma,.. take us in your arms,.. give us lots of courage,.. shower your light upon us).

Just before leaving the stage, Amma danced to the traditional Baduga dance. Everyone rejoiced and was elated in that wonderful atmosphere.

Upon her departure, Amma surprised everyone when she suddenly changed direction and walked towards the Brahmasthanam Temple. After circumambulating the Brahmasthanam Temple, she graciously walked to the car while acknowledging everyone’s presence either with a blissful smile or loving touch.

-Dass

 

 

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The foundation of Bhakti

5 May Kochi – Bharata Yatra 2016
While visiting a house during her 2016 Bharata Yatra, Amma was giving darshan and distributing prasad. A boy about 4 years old came to Amma and told her that he wants bhakti (devotion).
Amma replied, “Aha – do you want bhakti? What is bhakti?”
The boy looked at Amma with a lost expression.
Amma asked him, “Is it chocolate?”
“Yes,” the boy answered quickly. “Its chocolate.”
Everyone had a good laugh. Amma was repeating his words – bhakti is chocolate. Then Amma compassionately explained to the boy the true meaning of bhakti:

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“Perform all your actions with grace (with the blessings of the Guru). Every day, when you get up in the morning, do pranams to Mother Earth. Prostrate to your parents and elders, prostrate to the teacher in the school. Seek their blessings.
When you take a book or a pen for your studies – do pranam to it. Then only you should use them. Whenever someone comes to you (in the house), you should get up, give them a seat, ask them if they have had anything to eat. Don’t fight with anyone, don’t beat anyone. This is the foundation of bhakti.”
Amma explained how one should perform his daily actions in life: “Play while you play, study while you study, Pray while you pray. When you pray, pray like this: ‘Oh Lord, please shine in and through all my actions.'”

-Sakshi

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Shower of Love in Trissur

6-7 May, Trissur Brahmasthanam, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2016

Amma held a two-day program in Trissur where she conducted satsang, bhajan and darshan.

Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Academy Secretary Dr. PV Krishnan Nair, noted poet Chovallur Krishnan Kutty, Padmasree Sundar Menon were there to welcome Amma to Trissur.

Amma distributed samplings and seeds promoting organic farming in each ones’ house.

Speaking on the occasion, Amma said: “When we look at Bharat (India) today, we see two faces. One face is shining and happy because we are making giant strides in science and information technology. The other is hiding in the shadows. It is the ugly face of pervasive poverty, illiteracy, poor health, crimes against women and environmental pollution. A split personality is never a sign of sound health. If we want to see a powerful and healthy world, these two faces must merge into one beautiful face. Then no one will go hungry. No one will suffer without a place to sleep. No one will die due to lack of proper healthcare. If we can bring our collective knowledge, compassion and talents together, we will soon see the entire world rising and thriving with peace, harmony and prosperity.”

Cooler than temperatures in Kochi, the heat was still scorching and unbearable for many residents. One devotee prayed to Amma during darshan, “We want rain, Amma please make a sankalpa (resolve).” “What kind of rain?” Amma asked. “Good rain,” the devotee responded. Amma said OK. Less than an hour later, a heavy rain, complete with a thunder storm and lightning began, bringing a cool and strong wind along with it. Suddenly everyone’s face lit up – it was raining cats and dogs. Water was everywhere. Amma asked to switch off the lights and the temporary electrical supply on the ground.

The wind blew the rain onto the stage and onto Amma as she gave darshan. Unperturbed, she was continuing her work – giving darshan and enjoying the rain. The rain became heavier, with wind spraying water all over the stage. The devotees found a way to protect Amma from the downpour; they got tarpaulins and spread them above their heads and stood under that. Amma continued darshan.

Come what may, continue to do what you have decided to do. In heat or cold, persevere and be committed – it was beautiful practical demonstration of this principle, just like so many others Amma demonstrates in her daily life – day after day.

Happy stage monitor in the rain, on the stage

Amrita Vidyalayam children presented variety of cultural events that added entrainment to the program wich included fantastic yoga progam and an Ottam Tullal.

At the end of darshan on the second day, Amma sang a holi song and the 2016 Bharata Yatra – trip to Indian cities nationwide had finally come to an end. Next stop – USA.

-Kannadi

 

 

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The cooling presence of Amma in Kochi

May 3-4, Kochi, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2016

Amma held a two-day Brahmasthanam Festival at Kochi. She arrived after her programs in Singapore. Upon arrival, Amma was received with Poornakumbham and the Vedic chanting of Amrita University students.

Kochi Mayor Saumini Jain was there to welcome Amma and offer her tributes.

 

Two of the people who came for Amma’s darshan were very special.

Abdul Rahim, who lost his hands while working to defuse a landmine {news} and Manu, who both his while trying to defend a woman from an attack  {news}– both were given new hands by Amrita Hospital’s plastic surgery department. Fully recovered and with strong hands, they both hugged Amma. Hailing from Afghanistan, Abdur Rahman says he is in love with India and Amma. He says he will bring another 1,000 people to Amrita for treatment.

Abdul Rahim hugging Amma, Dr. Mohit Sharma who did the surgery looks on

Students of Amrita Vidyalayam and Amrita University presented different and entertaining cultural programs. Even the teachers had their part, staging a Kali dance.

On both program days, Amma sang bhajans and gave satsang and darshan – each day’s program beginning at 6.30 in the evening. At the end of the 2nd day’s program, Amma sang a Holi song. The darshan came to an end at 9.04 am the next day. Despite the scorching heat even in the evening, huge crowds attended on both days to enjoy the cooling presence of Amma’s love.

-Kannadi

 

 

 

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Awareness is the key: Amma’s practical suggestions for a clean Yamuna river

11 April, Suhagnagari, Ferozabad , enroute to Lucknow – Bharata 2016
Amma and the group travelled to Lucknow after Vrindavan. On the way the group stopped for luch at Suhagnagari, Ferozabad. The most shaded place we found was a club – FM Green City ! Amma sat on the veranda and served lunch to all. Sang bhajans too. Amma’s visit to Vrindavan and the request of sages and saints had come in the local news papers – a collective plea to Amma to help clean the badly polluted sacred river Yamuna. A local reporter of a Hindi newspaper called Hindusthan of Ferozabad edition just appeared from nowhere and started asking Amma about her thoughts on the subject. Amma happily replied to him for all his queries.

Amma said:  “For such a project, all have to come together to make it possible. First, we have to create awareness among people. Without awareness, it will be like the elephant’s bath. An elephant takes a bath, and then covers itself with dust. At present, toilet water is going straight into the river, filling the water with harmful organisms. Thus, the first step is to stop toilet water from going into the river.

“Amma’s children have cleaned the Pampa river {news}. Every year, more than 2 crore people bathe in the Pampa’s waters as part of their pilgrimage to the Sabarimala temple {temple cleaning news}. After their bath, they leave their clothes behind in the river. This waste cloth has been lying there for years, rendering the waters dirty. Amma’s children cleaned the river and removed tons of waste clothing. Now, the government has put up informational signs warning people not to leave their clothes in the river, educating them about the risks. The High court of Kerala ruled that leaving cloth in the river is a crime. There is also a fine imposed on those who violate the new rule. Segregation of waste management is also important. There are one set of waste bins for these clothes, and another set for other waste. Through the media and police enforcement, more awareness is created. After our 5th year of cleaning the Pampa river, the situation has improved by about 80%. However, neither toilet water nor factory waste waters flow into the Pampa river.

Dirty, polluted black water – Yamuna river

“Here the case is different. The Yamuna is a long river. It passes through many different states. The state governments should give permission, co-operate and help to clean the river. The sewage water should not go into the river. Toilets should be built for all those living on the riverbanks; for those who do not have space for a toilet on their property, community toilets should be created. Sewage treatment plants need to be set up in each area. For every 1,000 houses, there should be one such plant. Alternatively, biogas generators can handle the waste.

“In dealing with the factories, a subsidy should be given to create a method to properly dispose of waste. If a given factory failed to do so in a stipulated period of time, the facility could be fined or even have electricity and water supply disconnected.

“Trusts and committees should be formed, with the cooperation of the affected communities and government officials. People can be hired to implement the above policies. Cleaning the Yamuna River can only be accomplished if many people come together to make it happen.

“Ultimately, we need more awareness; changes in the laws are not enough. For example, diabetic people take medications, but if they continue to eat sweets and don’t do proper exercise, their sugar levels will remain dangerously high. Likewise, we need more awareness in regards to the Yamuna and our interactions with it.”

Amma sang a bhajan and gave darshan to the locals and the group started off to Lucknow. Some of us were discussing and savouring the comprehensive approach of Amma to clean river Yamuna and were in wonder how practical she is.

-Sakshi

 

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Amma in Kenya

17-18 April 2016, Nairobi, Kenya

After a five-year gap, Amma was received a warm welcome back to Kenya by Mr. Musalia Mudavadi, the former Deputy Vice President and the Deputy Prime Minister of Kenya; Mrs. Suchitra Durai, the Indian High Commissioner to Kenya; and Hon. Dan Mwazo, Senator of Taita Taveta county. Ms. Tessa Mudavadi, 2010 Global Winner Of Breast Cancer Awareness award, Dr. Manoj Shah, Past International Director of Lions Club, and Dr. Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of Kenya Red Cross were also there on hand to welcome Amma.

Amma’s arrival signaled the launch of several new humanitarian initiatives, which were formally inaugurated by the above dignitaries during the first day of Amma’s official program.

A new Telemedicine and Continuing Medical Education Program, a tie up between Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi and M.P Shah Hospital of Nairobi will help in high quality medical care for the patients in Kenya and enhance transfer of medical expertise in Kenya.

Amma also launched the Amrita Solar Village, which will help in lighting, heating, water supply for sanitation, nutrition and irrigation and will improve the quality of residents of 5 villages in Athi River.

A new Amrita After School Study Program to support children living near the Athi River who have no access to electricity at home. The dedicated classrooms and the facilities provided will allow the children to study and do their homework in a supportive environment, helping them to overcome some of the challenges of living in poverty and to achieve their dreams. Amma visited this school after the days program {news}.

Another new program called Saving Lives – Creating, was launched, in association with CAP YEI and the Kenya Red Cross. The program is designed to train unemployed youth as mid-wives, paramedics and first aid workers in the areas of reproductive health. The goal of the program is to empower these young people to save lives, while providing jobs for them as well.

Also during her program, Amma was presented with the Lions Club International President’s Award in appreciation of her humanitarian work globally.

Green initiatives have been a very important part of Embracing the World activities in Kenya, and the Amrita Center has been very active in promoting awareness amongst people to preserve and nurture Mother earth by actively pursuing tree planting drives, permaculture and organic farming. Volunteers from the Center brought organic products to Amma on stage, seeking her blessings for their efforts in sustainability.

The official program was followed by Amma’s satsang, bhajan, and two days of darshan programs, wherein each and every person who came to the program received Amma’s loving embrace.

– Tulasi

 

 

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The ongoing work of Amma’s volunteers in Kenya was also highlighted, including the following:

  • Amrita Center Kenya has been active since 2010, running various projects in education, youth empowerment, healthcare, nutrition, sanitation and sustainability through permaculture, tree planting and green energy.
  • The children’s home Watato Boma takes care of the needs of 160 children.
  • Amrita Center Kenya, in association with CAP trains unemployed youth in the age groups of 18-30 years. Three-month courses are offered in Carpentry, Tailoring, Electrical, Plumbing, Computers and Hospitality. It has trained more than 1000 students since its inception.
  • Amma’s meals program started in 2012 now provides over 80,000 free meals annually.
  • Free Medical Camps have been regularly held over the last 4 years providing free consultations and medicine to over 3200 patients.
  • Free Cataract Surgeries have been conducted in the counties of Thika, Machakos, Voi, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia and Kisii, which has screened over 8000 patients and completed more than 1000 cataract surgeries restoring not only eyesight but also improvement in quality of life.
  • As a part of the sustainable development initiatives, the Amrita Center has one of the best Permaculture farms in Nairobi. Amma’s volunteers there, hardworking and motivated to carry Amma’s message of service and compassion forward, see this is as only the beginning.

 

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Amma’s visit to Amrita Watoto Boma

April 19, 2016, Nairobi, Kenya

It was a very special day for the children of Amrita Watoto Boma, Amma’s day school in Athi River, Nairobi. It was a day they had been waiting for for a long time.

160 children, many of whom have been there since the school opened its doors, last saw Amma 5 years ago. Some of them are in the 8th standard now.

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Amma visited the children’s home the day after her two days of official programs in Kenya. The children stood in two rows, welcoming Amma with banners and singing Om Namah Shivaya as Amma gently touched their hands and walked towards the hall.

In fact, it was a special day for Amma as well. Already two months back when still in India, Amma had expressed her desire to gift each child with a new set of clothing. Now the day had come. When Amma sat down with her African children, she first gave a gift packet containing a new set of clothing and shoes, as well as candies to each and every child.

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Amma moved her chair to sit closer to the children, who started to sing bhajans. They started with Ganesha Sharanama, which they had learned during a 3-day holiday camp. Then Amma asked all the kids to stand up and dance. They sang Kali Durge Namo Namah – everyone around joined in the dancing, it was very beautiful. Amma sang and clapped along to the song and was so happy. Such a beautiful moment, as if Amma had never had been away.

After the dance was over, Amma asked the children what was the first thing they do every morning. The children said the first thing they do is pray. Amma asked them to recite “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavanthu” prayer five minutes every day imagining that peace and happiness descends on all being of the world, all around the globe.

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Amma also asked the children about their dreams and ambitions in life. The children’s answers varied. Some wanted to become pilots; some lawyers; some singers. Some children even replied that they want to become Amma!

Amma then toured the children’s home, inspecting the classrooms and the permaculture garden. She also gave directions for further development of the facility.

This precious memory of Amma’s visit will stay in the hearts of the children of Amrita Watoto Boma for a long time.

-Tulasi