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Onam celebrations at Amritapuri

4-14 Sep 2016, Onam celebrations, Amritapuri

For each of the 10 days of the annual Onam festival, ashram residents as well as students took turns making beautiful big pookkalams (floral designs) at the foot of the steps to Amma’s room. Each day when Amma came out for darshan, she would stand there for some time, bow to the pookkalam and comment about the beauty of the work–for it was not possible to say which was more beautiful.

On the final day of the Onam festival, Amma was welcomed by Panchavadyam – traditional Kerala drums – to the stage. After Amma gave her Onam message {news} , she sang two bhajans,(Bandalo Bandlo and Radhe Govinda Gopi Gopala) and asked everyone to clap and dance along with her. At the end Amma danced to the tune of Baduga music.

After giving darshan for a short time, she started giving OnaSadya – the traditional Onam feast – to all those present. Last but certainly not least to receive her OnaSadya was Lakshmi–the ashram elephant, who was fed by Amma herself. Amma gave Lakshmi giant rice balls, payasam, pappadam, and avil one by one, as well as banana clusters. Then Lakshmi played her favourite game – she was given buckets of water, from which she sprayed water on all those assembled, giving those nearby quite a bath.

That evening, Amma sang bhajans, transporting all into a realm beyond.

After dinner, ashramites staged a number of performances, including dances and dramas, for the delight of all. Amma sat for all the performances along with the rest of the ashram residents and visitors. By midnight, Amma sang “Love is the way” in English and the crescendo – “Aya he sara jaha yaham”. With prayers for peace of the whole world, this year’s Onam celebrations came to an end.
-Kannadi

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Sri Krishna Jayanthi at Amritapuri

24 Aug 2016, Amritapuri
The festivities began at 7:30 in the morning with a special procession from the Ashram’s cowshed to the front steps of the Kali Temple where the Go Puja was performed showing reverence to all cows. A large number of Ashramites, devotees and visitors took part in the procession and puja, singing Krishna bhajans, clapping hands and dancing. The cows were beautifully decorated as were the children living at Amritapuri who were all dressed up like little Krishnas and gopis!

In the afternoon, after the procession from Kuzhithura Sri Krishna Temple, everyone gathered in front of the Kali Temple, where Amma joined at approximately 4.30pm. She had been giving darshan from 11am till 3pm. Taking her seat on the steps of the Temple, Amma watched children play Uriyadi – a game where they try to break a pot of clay with a stick in remembrance of Krishna’s escapades of stealing pots of butter. First the little children tried their luck, followed by those a bit bigger, then by Amrita University students. Amma watched the fun, laughing often and pointing out the most adorable scenes. As the games were ending, Amma sang two joyful Krishna songs (Radhe Govinda Gopi Gopala, Narayana Narayana jaya Govind hare) for a long time, waving her arms with joy and looking at the sky.

 

After the games, Mother immediately headed to the main hall for the evening bhajans filled with Krishna bhajans. Dinner followed, and everyone was excited with anticipation of the special program that was still in store for the day. At about 11:30pm, Amma returned to the beautifully decorated stage where a reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam was taking place, along with the special Balagopala Puja honouring the birth of Krishna. The stage was decorated with many beautiful Krishna statues, oil lamps, garlands and trays of flowers.

At the stroke of midnight, Amma started singing special Krishna bhajans. She sang Agatanayi Agatani, and two others, clapping her hands, smiling and creating a lively and playful atmosphere. Amma then delivered her message {news} which included a beautiful presentation of the essence of Krishna’s life, teachings and practical guidance for our lives and struggles.
After the address, Amma sang 2 more bhajans, asking all those present to stand and wave their arms in joy to the tune of ‘Bolo bolo gokula pala’. She then led everyone in chanting Lokah Samastha Sukino Bhavantu – the prayer for universal peace. At around 1:30am, Amma began distributing sweet payasam Prasad. She handed a cup of the blessed gift to every single person. At 2:10am, after making sure that everyone had received Prasad, she headed back to her room … one more Sri Krishna Jayanthi with Amma to cherish for years to come.

– Kannadi

 

 

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Vavu Bali, paying homage to ancestors

2 Aug 2016, Amritapuri

2000 participants from around the globe gathered in Amritapuri to pay homage to their ancestors by participating in the Karkidaka Vavu Bali ritual.

Vavu Bali is a Hindu custom where a special puja is performed on riverbanks and beaches on the no moon (Amavasya) that falls during the month of Karkitakam – the last month of the Malayalam calendar (July-August). During the ritual, participants wear a sacred ring (pavithram) made of dharba (a grass) and make an offering of sesame seeds, cheroola (a herb), cooked rice, and water placed on a banana leaf into a nearby body of water.

Brahmacharis from the Ashram led the instructions in many local and foreign languages. The first part of the ritual was performed in the Main Hall in the Ashram, after which participants gathered at the beach to offer the items on the banana leaf to the ocean.

Everyone expressed their gratitude towards their departed ancestors, and prayed for their wellbeing and spiritual progress.

This ceremony is considered as a part of Pitru Yajna (sacrifice for parents) – one of the Pancha-mahayagnas (5 sacrifices) all Hindus has to perform as part of a Dharmic life.

 

 

New Year celebrations at Amritapuri 2016

1 January, 2016 – Amritapuri

Thousands of people filled the main hall in Amritapuri to welcome 2016 in the presence of our Divine Mother.

As darshan was finishing, a number of cultural performances entertained the gathered crowd who had come from all parts of India and the world. There were traditional Indian dances followed by a rap session praising Amma. A dozen or so young resident children danced to the Baduga dance bringing joy to all.

Darshan finished, and as midnight approached, Amma returned to the stage and led everyone in chanting Lokah Samastha Sukino Bhavantu.

In her New Year’s address, Amma acknowledged the many tragic natural and man-made events of the past year and praised the response to the recent flooding in Chennai. She stressed the importance of caring for Mother Nature, giving examples of how we can all make an effort to help. Amma then expressed her hope and prayers for the success of efforts to solve global climate change as put forth during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this past November.

After her speech {news}, Amma sang “Kushiyom Ki Bahar” followed by “Bandalo Bandalo”. The contrast of the melancholy, yet hopeful tune of Kuishiyom Ki against the hand-clapping and uplifting melody of Bandalo gave hope and joy for the New Year.

Amma then stood up, and her peetham was moved back to make way as she danced to the traditional Baduga song. As she gracefully moved in time to the rhythmic beats, she playfully encouraged all to join in. A few devotees on stage joyfully started dancing, and Amma even tried to get a few small toddlers to participate. Everyone clapped their hands and danced in bliss.

As the music and dancing came to an end, payasam was distributed to everyone – with Amma herself pouring each glass. After enjoying the sweet prasad, Amma returned to her room, and everyone went to bed with a smile on their face.

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Turning into smiling ones, reflecting the joy of the moment

4 October 2015, Amritapuri

The day Amma would leave for the Europe tour, she came to the Kali Temple around 11 am and the for the next 3 hours, meditated, answered questions, gave advice, cracked jokes, gave a couple thousand people Prasad lunch, gave a quick darshan and finished off by singing and dancing her new signature Baduga dance. Infact Amma was dancing in many times when she is serving lunch prasad to the residents. Sad faces thinking of Amma’s impending departure turned to smiling ones reflecting the sheer joy of the moment. After few hours Amma left Amritapuri for Europe Yatra 2015.

baduga dance
happy amritapuri

 

baduga dance

 

chair cleaning Amma

Opportunity to serve is like winning a lottery

1 Sep 2015, Amritapuri

Chair Cleaning Seva

Normally when Amma arrives on the stage for bhajans, she immediately starts singing. But today she made the following announcement before she started, “A lot of the chairs in the hall need to be cleaned. Everyone should try to clean two chairs.”

 

So all throughout bhajans everyone kept in the mind the need to make themselves available for that seva later…at some point…maybe tomorrow…maybe the next day…but no one thought that for Amma, action goes along with words and right away!

As soon as bhajans were over, on her way to her room, Amma walked straight to the stacks of unused chairs at the back of the hall and started on her own to take the chairs down individually and pass them on to whoever was nearby. It took time for everyone to understand what was happening and what they were supposed to do with the chairs. But soon enough, buckets with water and soap showed up at the scene and were passed on. Following Amma’s lead, the seva started and quickly took over the whole hall! After taking down the chairs from the stacks, Amma took a bucket, a brush and soap and started scrubbing a chair. She stayed focused on the work, while she gave directions to the hundreds of devotees, students and Ashram residents who joined in.

The work went on well past midnight, filling up almost all the hall with chair cleaning. Everyone joined in, including small children and the elderly as well, singing bhajans to keep the enthusiasm and good spirits up. During the previous day’s satsang Amma was saying that we should never miss any opportunity to serve; that it is like winning the lottery. So how fortunate were all of us to be given such a memorable opportunity to serve and be happy, offered by Amma!

-Kannadi

 

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Sri Krishna Jayanthi at Amritapuri Ashram

15 Sep 2014, Amritapuri
The day started with an early morning Mahaganapathi human at the Kalari. It was followed by a GoPuja (cow worship) and procession. Cows of the ashram, adorned in colors were brought in a procession to the front of the Kali Temple. They were offered fruits by devotees and children dressed like little Krishnas. A brief puja was also performed to them.

In the afternoon, as per the yearly tradition, for Krishna’s Birthday day, Amma came to the front of the Kali Temple to watch the children and youngsters take part in Uriyadi, trying their luck to break swinging pots of water. The game is a reminiscent of little Krishna’s escapades stealing pots of butter. This was followed by joyful Krishna bhajans led by Amma.

Amma with little Krishnas

Later Amma joined the daily bhajans session taking place in the main hall from 6:30 to 8pm.
At 10:45pm, to conclude the special celebration day, the reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam started on the main stage, along with a special puja honoring the birth of Lord Krishna. The hall was filled with devotees and ashramites. The stage was adorned with beautiful Krishna statues, oil lamps, garlands, trays of flowers and a large painting of Amma as Krishna. Amma joined around 11:30pm and enjoyed listening to the Srimad Bhagavatam for some time.

Uriyadi

At the stroke of midnight, bells announced the advent of the divine moment: Lord Krishna’s birth! Amma led a special Krishna bhajan session. She asked people to clap their hands and dance forgetting all their worries. The hall swayed with Amma as she was singing.
After the bhajans, Amma’s message was shown on the screen {news}. Later, to end the special day Amma gave a prasad of sweets to all those present. It was around 2:30am when she went back to her room.

– Das

Ganesh Visarjan

7 Sep 2014, Amritapuri
The Ganesh festival comes to an end with Ganesh Visarjan. The idol of Ganesha which was kept in front of Kalari on the day of Ganesh Chaturthy was taken in a procession to the sea this evening. Chanting bhajans and cheering “Ganapati Bapa Moriya” devotees carried the idol to the sea and immersed it there.

All the names and forms – they are impermanent, focus on the changeless behind all names and forms is the principle of this Ganesha festival.

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Guru Purnima in Amritapuri

12 July 2014, Amritapuri
In Amritapuri Guru Purnima was celebrated. Under the leadership of Swami Turiyamritananda, Guru Paduka puja was conducted. Archana, Bhajans, Arati, and Satsang followed.

Swimming and the Dosa festival with Amma

14 May 2013, Amritapuri

These were the last two days before Amma’s Japan-America yatra. Amma came yesterday for Tuesday satsang and mentioned that she would come to the swimming pool in the evening, feed everyone Masala Dosas and mangoes.

in the pool

Blissfully beautiful

Later that evening, as promised, Amma came to the pool soon after the bhajans. Amma spent the first one and half hours with Ashram girls. As the girls enjoyed the presence of Amma with them, there were cries of yearning from boys outside “Amme.. Ammme”. As soon as the girls session ended, boys started trickling in. Amma sat at the deep end of the pool and each one got a chance to be nudged into the waters by Amma. With a unique smile, Amma would sweetly ask if each one knew swimming and for those who did not, request a safety ring and keep her bramhacharis ready while she would shove them one by one. She would playfully tease them, evoking peals of laughter from all around. Amma would keep a watchful eye on each person as they dove into the pool, making sure they he would come up and make it safely to touch the side of the pool.

Amma asked for a ganjira and started singing bhajans. Her voice overshot the sounds of her children and “He Giridhara Gopala” rang through the night air of Amritapuri.

After everyone getting a chance to swim, Amma was alone in the water- swimming and floating in the pool for a while. Her legs were in padmasana, hands were holding mudras with only her forehead, eyes, nose and a small part of her chin above water. All were silent, as lights danced on the ripples of the pool. A gentle breeze caressed every one and Amma was in samadhi. It was blissfully beautiful.

After swimming, Amma went back to her room leaving the whole ashram awake, happy and relaxed, remembering her beautiful presence.

Dosa Fest

15 May 2013
The last evening before the US tour was the second annual super-special Dosa festival.

Even during Bhajans several dosa grills had started sizzling. Amma jokingly started saying “How can the mind be focused (on bhajans) when the smells and sizzling sounds rise on either sides”, as dosas were being made. And between each round of dosas water was used to clean the big grills causing clouds of steam to rise all around the hall. As soon as bhajans ended, Amma climbed down the stage and the Dosa fest began.

Amma made dosas with care and then with her own unique style, initiated the distribution process. Amma started serving hot Masala dosas with spicy chick pea curry and freshly cut yellow mangoes from Ettimadai. After most of the devotees were served, Amma insisted everyone to take a second portion: “Children, take a second dosa, or cut one in half and share. Don’t worry, we will make more for you. Amma felt all of you should be given a full mango but the person in charge of the kitchen was concerned for the numbers, so he sliced them up, but at least that makes it easy to eat. There is lots more, Please help yourselves!”. Amma then said “may all children be happy in body and mind, may all those here and everywhere be well. Go on eat!”. Saying so, Amma took a bite of dosa after chanting the Bramharpanam mantra. Two very big dosas were made for Amma one from girls side and one from boys. Amma took pieces from each and then distributed the rest to everyone.

As stomachs filled, Amma passed the microphone around and asked for people to share jokes. Amma would add spiritual insight into each joke, adding wisdom to the humor.

Amma then sang “Maiyyaji me ne tu chahdi’ – Mother I am yearning for you – with a lot of shouts of “oho”, “aha” and ended with “Mata rani ki.. jai”.

Amma then left early in the pre-dawn hours for her two month long Japan-America yatra.

To Amma, there are no limits. She goes every extra mile to make her children happy. Look at this – an ordinary evening she converted in to a big celebration, made masala dosa and distributed it hot to over 3000 people in an hour and twenty minutes, filled the session with satsang, jokes and bhajans!!

Are you looking for miracles? This was one.

– Sakshi