2015 vishuthaineetam

Vrukshakkani and Vishuthaineettam instead of Vishukkani and Vishukkaineettam

Vishu is a festival specific to Kerala and to Malayalees, and it symbolizes the age-old bond with Nature. The highlights of Vishu are known as Vishukkani and Vishukkaineettam.

As part of this year’s upcoming festival of Vishu, Amma has launched two initiatives to help foster love for nature in the hearts of the younger generations, and to teach them to protect and preserve nature. These initiatives are known as Vrukshakkani and Vishuthaineettam, as they augment the existing highlights of Vishu.

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Vishukkani is the first darshan (sight) the members of each household will have after waking up on the day of Vishu. A picture of Lord Sri Krishna and an abundant display of fruits and vegetables form the main part of the Vishukkani. Traditionally, the parents blindfold the children or cover their eyes and lead them in front of the Vishukkani altar, to guarantee that this is the first thing they see on Vishu. This year, Amma is asking everyone to add one more item to the Vishukkani altar: a few seedlings of any tree or vegetable—hence the name Vrukshakkani.

The tradition of Vishukkaineettam is a gift, usually money, which the elders give to the young members of the family on that day. But this year, Amma is asking the elders to gift the seedlings kept in the Vishukkani to the younger ones so that they will plant it and nurture them. This will be known as Vishuthaineettam.

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This is a special moment in the history of Vishu. If enough people would incorporate these new traditions, it will allow the festival of Vishu to help imprint a deep bond with and love and concern for nature in the coming generations. This kind of fundamental shift in humanity’s attitude toward nature (from exploitation to loving protection) is essential in order to preserve nature’s harmony and a safe place for human beings to call home.

 

This years Vishu falls on 15th April.

 

 

Shivaratri celebration at Amritapuri

10 March 2013, Amritapuri
As Amma’s darshan was finishing, Amma’s message for Shivaratri was played on the big screens in the hall. At the end of darshan Amma started singing “Mano Buddhyahamkara Chittani Naham”. It was very moving. Many were in tears. Her innocent voice, the bhava of yearning for God were touching the hearts of thousands assembled. Then she sang ‘Hari Om Namah Shivaya’, and Parama Shiva Maam Pahi.  During one of these bhajans, the ashram dog – Bhakti – made her way to the stage and lay at the feet of Amma. Amma was smiling at her in between the singing.

Afterwards she asked everyone to stand up and dance and to the tune of ‘Bolo Bolo Sab Mil Bolo’. Every one was dancing for a long time. But Amma was not done. She continued to sing one more bhajan – Hari Om Namo Narayanaya. At the end she called out Hara Hara Mahadeva, and  Jai Bolo Mahadeva Shambo ki-Jai!

Blissful Krishna’s Birthday Celebrations

08 Sep 2012, Amritapuri
The celebrations to mark Krishna’s Birthday began early in the morning. Children were dressed up as Krishnas and the gopis; some painting their faces and skin all in blue to be a perfect physical copy of the Lord of Vrindavan. A large number of ashramites, devotees and visitors took part in a special procession that started from Kuzhithura Krishna temple, singing Krishna bhajans, clapping hands and dancing. Smiles and happy greetings on all faces!

Amma came down for darshan earlier than usual since there was such a large crowd on hand for the festivities. Then a little before 4.30 pm Amma came to the front of the main temple building where large crowds had gathered eagerly. Although the weather had been unseasonably rainy, the sun came out for the day. Amma watched the children and youngsters play, Uriyadi, with great excitement, trying their luck at breaking swinging pots of water, a game reminiscent of Krishna’s escapades stealing pots of butter. With bursting enthusiasm, Amma sang Krishna bhajans, adding to the level of excitement for the young pot breakers. The balconies of the all the accommodation buildings were full of devotees enjoying the colorful scene from high above.

Directly after the games concluded everyone proceeded to the evening bhajans in the big auditorium led by Amma. The bhajans delighted everyone present till around 8:30pm. Soon after the bhajans ended there were a several dances and cultural performances put on by devotees and students of Amrita University. But there was still more to come. After the performances, a video of Amma’s message for the occasion, was played on the screens {news}. When the message ended, Amma came back to the stage which was now adorned with beautiful Krishna statues, oil lamps, garlands, trays of flowers and a large painting of Amma as Krishna. With the added divine presence of Amma, the scene was extraordinarily beautiful. The reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam started along with a special puja honoring the birth of Lord Krishna.

At the stroke of midnight, bells and screams of joy announced the advent of the fervently awaited divine moment: the glorious time of Krishna’s birth! Amma immediately started a special Krishna bhajan session with ‘Agatanayi Aganayi Vishnu Devan,’ clapping her hands and beaming with a smile.

As soon as the midnight bhajans session ended, Amma asked everyone to stand up and forget all their worries and dance with her. Amma also stood up and just as she had done a few days before on Onam.  She stood facing the hundreds of gopis and gopas who filled the big auditorium, she enchanted the hearts of all with an enchanting and divinely graceful dance while singing two beautiful bhajans- Bolo Bolo Gokula Bala and Tananna Tananna. Everyone in the hall stood and danced with her, swaying left and right, jumping with joy and clapping hands.

As the dancing and singing ended, Amma moved to the edge of the stage where a large table was set up in front of her, and for the next hour or so, she offered glasses of delicious payasam to all those present. It was nearing 2am when she retired to her room, leaving a lifetime memory in the hearts of all.

Another blissful festive day at Amritapuri, Amma’s international Gurukulam…

– Kannadi

Amma plays Holi in Amritapuri

8 Mar 2012, Amritapuri

Thursday night as darshan ended, the Holi celebration began at Amritapuri. Just before the end of darshan a devotee presented Amma with a bowl of colored powder and a bucket of water and a ‘pichkari’ (elongated water pistol). Amma mixed the colors into the bucket of water and then she filled the pichkari with the colored water. She slowly pointed the pichkari at many people on stage before she started spraying colors on everybody on the stage. She put colored powder on those sitting just next to the chair and squirted water on all sides.

While she was doing this she started singing “Ayi He Holi” – meaning, Holi has come, the water pistols are filled up with coloured water…
Some devotees stood up and started dancing in the hall. The entire atmosphere was surcharged with joy as Amma sprayed more colors and threw the dry powder on everyone. A small amount of color was then carefully applied on Amma’s face by a young devotee. Amma then sang one more song “Vraj Me Aisa” meaning – At Vraj (Vrindavan) there was such an excitement as Krishna on his way to Ras (Raasa Leela dance with the Gopis).. and the whole hall erupted with joy. During that bhajan Amma repeating one particular line again and again.. ‘ Kanha ek, gopi anek,’ meaning, Krishna is one, and the Gopis are many, pointing to all around her as she sang…

Kanha ek gopi anek
kis ke sang vo rachayenge ras?…
Shyam ke ye leela ko dekh
Vo hai Kade har Gopi ke pas.

While singing and dancing sitting on her seat, Amma continued throwing colored powder around and spraying water. When she finally left the stage, her sari was fully covered in pink colors. And just before going up the steps to her room, one final time she turned back and sprayed colored water on those standing below her after a boy loaned her his small water pistol.

After Amma returned to her room there was plenty of colored powder and water which had not yet been used, so the joyous atmosphere continued as the devotees began their own Holi play and started smearing powder on each other, until there was no powder left to smear and everyone went to back to their rooms covered in colors.

– Kannadi

Amritapuri gears up for Amma’s 58th Birthday Celebrations

24 September 2011

Divine love took a form 58 years ago. Lakhs of devotees and well wishers from all over the world will be congregating at Amritapuri on Sept 27th, to partake in the 58th Birthday Celebrations of Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

To manage this mammoth gathering, MAM has made extensive hospitality arrangements by way of free food, stay, transport logistics , toilets etc. Arrangements are also being made for individual Darshan by Amma for the devotees who come for the celebrations.

As the ”B-Day” gets closer, the celebration mood at Amritapuri is approaching a crescendo . Anywhere you look, there is palpable excitement, joy and a mood of rejoicing.

One can witness many streaming in from all sides of the Ashram, making a beeline to the Accommodation office to get their space, talking in a multitude of languages, as they originate from different parts of the globe.
A starlit food court has come up facing the canteen, under the gaze of twinkling stars. Adjacent to the Juice Stall, a brand new Book Stall has sprung up. All the trees are decked up with necklaces of twinkling blue lights.

The Amrita University campus where the main celebrations will be held on 27th is being transformed, with a gigantic pandal coming up–its dimensions seem to be growing with every passing hour, so that it is ready to accommodate the lakhs who will assemble there. Simultaneously a mega kitchen is getting ready for round-the-clock serving of free food. The numerous classrooms in the campus will become make-shift staying places, office rooms, rehearsal venues, etc.

On 27th, Padapuja to the lotus feet of Amma will begin at 9.00 am. Amma will then address the gathering.

Amma’s 58th Birthday Celebrations heralds the launch of numerous social welfare schemes like: training program for Home Nurses; free all India tution program for college students, and Amritasree scholarship for poor students.

The ongoing projects like: Vidyamritam stipend for children of farmers families who have been victims of suicides ; Amrita Nidhi pension for widows; free marriages of impoverished couples; free clothing for the underprivileged, etc. will also be provided during the occasion.
Mr. M.P Virendra Kumar, MD, Mathrubhumi will be presented with the prestigeous Amrita Keerthi Puraskar.

MAM will be releasing numerous books in Hindi ,Marathi,Kannada,Telugu,English and Malayalam in accordance with the celebration.
www.Amritapuri.org is also planning for a webcast of the proceedings so that devotees around the globe can watch it live.

– Tulasi

Amritapuri is gearing up for Ammas 57th Birthday

Amritapuri is gearing up for the 57th Birthday Celebrations of Her Holiness Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

The Birthday celebrations will be held at the premises of the Amritapuri campus of the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The celebrations will start at 5.00 a.m. on September 27th, with a Lalita Sahasranam Archana.

The highlights of the morning program are as follows:

  • Pada Puja by Amma’s sannyasi disciples.
  • Amma’s Birthday Discourse.
  • Awarding of the Amrita Keerti Puraskar to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Vedic learning, Vedic literature.
  • Inauguration of new Insurance Protection Scheme for Amrita Self-Help Groups.
  • Pensions to new ‘Amrita Nidhi’ beneficiaries.
  • Distribution of ‘Vidyamritam’ Scholarships to students.
  • Distribution of clothes to 25,000 women from impoverished families.
  • Mass Marriage Ceremony. The Math will also be giving the couples wedding clothes, ornaments and financial aid.
  • Release of books and special commemorative Matruvani publication.
  • Inauguration of the Ashram’s website in nine Indian languages, (Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali & Sanskrit).

Diwali with Amma

18 Oct, Mannheim, Germany – 2009 Europe yatra

Yesterday was Deepavali, the festival of lights. At home, Deepavali is celebrated as “the awareness of the inner light” and in bliss of the Divine Mother’s victory, whose grace can remove the darkness of ignorance.

Yesterday was special indeed in the mind of many. Through a little chat whilst Darshan was going on, Amma reminded us that the luminous inner light of the Self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of the heart and that the very goal is to seek that Self. The usual tour-cooks, Paul and Lavan and their team, had prepared sweets for Amma and all. They brought some very ‘sugared’ Deepavali sweets and a special less sugared version for Amma. Amma enjoyed both versions of the Prasad and blessed it by having some of both. Very special was that moment. The Prasad was then distributed to one and all by the very same hands that made them. On the door way leading out of the hall, people had sparklers(fireworks) in their hands while many others had lit candles. Amma touched every single person who had stood on the way on either sides as she walked out of the stage after a full night’s Darshan. It was around 3:30am. It is so very beautiful to be in this very presence of Light.

– Kannadi

Holi celebration with Amma

11 Mar 2009, Amritapuri
colours of joy
At the end of darshan, one devotee came to Amma with a tray full of colours to celebrate Holi.The devotee dabbed Amma’s cheek with a little red.  A few others  joined too, smearing Amma’s face with different colours.  Amma was beaming with joy with a mischievous smile.

Amma started smearing the faces of everyone around her with different colors. Everyone’s face was lit up with joy. Amma asked for a pichkari, filled it with colored water, and out went the streams of colored water, spraying on the faces around.

Amma sang two songs, ‘Khol darwaza’ and ‘Ayi ye holi’ bringing full amazement and joy to all. Another festival of Holi was added to the colours of memory.

– Kannadi

watch photos of Holi celebration here.

Pongal at the Ashram

15 Jan 2008, Amritapuri

Pongal was celebrated in the Ashram. Amma distributed payasam to all the residents in the afternoon.
The day on which the sun begins to move northwards is called ‘Makar Shankranti’.  In Tamil Nadu this festival is called the Pongal.

Pongal ushers in the New Year in Tamil Nadu. Newly-harvested grains are cooked for the first time on that day. Joyous festivities mark the celebration in every home. The poor are fed and clothed. On the next day, the cow is worshipped, and birds and animals are fed. Its called Mattu pongal.

What Amma says on Pongal

“For me there is no creator and creations. Like the ocean and the waves, they are all one and the same. God is in the people or in the world, and the world is in the people. It is love that transforms into worship. Even nature is part of God. That is why we have temples even for insignificant creatures such as lizards, trees and poisonous snakes. We have ‘Mattu Pongal’, we worship the cattle. We need them for cultivation. It is a form of thanksgiving to the entire creation as that is the power that sustains life.”

 

Meaning of Pongal

from the archive article

…. During Satsang on the rooftop of Amma’s Madurai ashram last night, Amma told of how over the three days of Pongal a different aspect of the Divine in Nature is worshipped, partly with the symbolic offering of payasam (sweet rice pudding).

The first day the Sun is worshipped as the embodiment and source of Life-Force, without which we could not be. Payasam is offered to the sun seeking his blessings, and then eaten as prasad; the second day, animals are venerated, usually through the worship of a representative cow, which again is offered sweet payasam; the third day sees the family relations worshipped, of course through more offering of payasam, and, more importantly, through the coming together of family members. If there have been arguments or miscommunications in the family, this is the day when the air is cleared and hearts are opened. It can be a very healing time, restoring a deep relationship with the Universe, Mother Nature and one another. Through this festival, the Creation is recognized as the miraculous divine blessing it truly is.

Amma also explained an interesting point about the intelligence behind this kind of worship, saying that it is not superstitious, but in fact very practical. During this particular festival for example, the tradition of cooking payasam and allowing it to boil over is observed all over South India. This overflowing of sweetness represents the Prema (Divine Love) that should overflow from our hearts towards all of Creation. Amma continued with a remarkable point. She said that the steam rising from the rice, jaggery, cardamom and other spices being boiled in so many households and mixed with the smoke from the firewood traditionally used, actually creates a special medicinal combination that has a very beneficial effect on the atmosphere. The collective observance of this and similar practices has a positive effect on both the ‘mental environment’, as well as the weather, climate and harmony of Nature in general. This is just one aspect of the subtle wisdom underlying these simple, elegant customs.

 

Amma won’t let you sleep

Amma won’t let you sleep

Shivaratri Celebrations

16 February 2007 — Amritapuri

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Sanatana Dharma has two types of festivals: festivals of rejoicing and festivals of austerity. Shivaratri is typically considered a festival of austerity—a night wherein food and sleep are forgone so that one can spend their time in remembrance of the divine. But with Amma, there are no black and whites. And who is to say austerity and rejoicing cannot go hand-in-hand?

It has been a long time since Amma has been in Amritapuri during Shivaratri. For the past 20 years, Amma has almost always been travelling as part of her Bharata Yatra during the festival. And Amma’s India Tour is nothing but Shivaratri after Shivaratri after Shivaratri—night after night of devotees and disciples trying to keep up with Amma as she gives darshan from dusk till dawn. As such, when Shivaratri proper comes around, not much is made of it.

This year Amma’s Bharata Yatra started a little later than usual, so the Shivaratri fell in between the first and second leg of the tour. On the auspicious night, the ashram residents assembled in the bhajan hall around 10:00 and began singing songs of Lord Shiva. It was only after a couple such songs that Amma came from her room to join everyone.

“How long is Shivaratri?” Amma asked everyone. Was Amma asking how long tradition dictates one stays physically awake on the holiday or was she asking how long her children were going to remember God?

Amma then began to lead everyone in bhajans dedicated to Lord Shiva. One of the bhajans Amma sang was “Prabhum Isham,” a very old song that Amma herself has not sung in many, many years.

After singing three or four songs about the Lord, Amma stopped and began talking about the significance of Shivaratri.

“How many days are there in one year?” Amma asked.

“365,” everyone replied.

“So, God is watching over you 365 days a year,” Amma said. “But Shivaratri is the one night wherein we are asked to sacrifice and watch over God, taking a vow of fasting and maintain vigil at night. God is always present within us—wide awake. We, on the other hand, are fast asleep. This is why we are unable to recognize the divine presence. All the different experiences of life are just like the dreams we experience in our sleep. If we really want to experience that divine presence, we need to forgo sleep as an act of renunciation for at least one day.”

“Food and sleep are the most important things to us. No one is ready to give them up just like that. Only when we develop a liking for remembering God will we be able to fast and forgo sleep without suffering.”

Amma then said that staying awake does not mean just merely keeping the eyes open, but means maintaining awareness of one’s thoughts, words and actions. “Ignorance disappears with the dawning of such awareness,” Amma said. “Darkness is not something that can be physically removed. But when we let in light, darkness automatically ceases to exist. In the same way, when true knowledge awakens, the darkness of ignorance disappears. Then we awaken to eternal light.”

Amma then related one of the Puranic stories from which comes the significance of staying awake all night on Shivaratri—the time the demons and the gods churned the ocean in order to obtain amrita [the nectar of immortality]. “When they did this, the first thing to come to the surface was a deadly poison,” Amma said. “It is said that Lord Shiva drank this poison in order to protect humanity from it. Here, the dreaded poison represents our prarabdha karmas1. Lord Shiva, in the form of the Guru, accepts our prarabdha and protects us.”

Amma then told another element of the story, saying that in order to protect Lord Shiva from the poison, everyone around him maintained vigil throughout the night. Amma explained how when someone is bit by a snake, the doctor will force him to stay awake as to do so lessens the effect of the poison and can ultimately save his life.

“To prevent the snake-bite victim from falling asleep, his friends and family will sing and dance and pour water over his head,” Amma said.  “They will also make him drink bitter medicines. Onlookers may feel sorry for the patient. They might even say, ‘Poor guy! Just let him close his eyes for a while! Why are you troubling him like this?’ But the doctor knows that if he is allowed to fall asleep that he may die.”

Amma said that the Guru is like this doctor. He will do anything and everything to keep us awake. We may not like it. He will make you drink bitter medicines in the form of experiences. But all this is done with the our higher good in mind—to awake us and keep us awake. Amma said that this is why people consider the guru their enemy.

“Unfortunately, many prefer to remain in darkness,” Amma said. “If God were to come before them and offer them liberation now itself, they would say, ‘Now, we want to watch TV. Will you please come later?’

Some of the devotees and disciples gathered for the holiday expressed disagreement, not wishing for Amma to think they considered her their enemy. Amma laughed and said, “We’ll see. Amma will test.” And then Amma snapped her fingers a few times, indicating how confident she was that they would consider her the enemy once she started her tests.

“Lord Shiva is the kaala-kaalan [the death of time],” Amma said. “This means that he removes the time-bound notions that ‘I was born, am growing and will die,’ and bestows the awareness of eternity.”

Amma then explained that people often turn towards God when they undergo a lot of hardship and sorrow in life. In those moments, they often come across the light of God. But to maintain this vision, we must maintain alertness,” Amma said.

Amma then explained the inner meaning to why Shiva’s eyes are always half-closed: “Even when mahatmas see the external world, their eyes remain focused on their True Self. They see the world verily as their Self. Their wisdom is clearly expressed in all their actions.”

Amma concluded by saying that Shivaratri also represent the marriage of Lord Shiva, the embodiment of knowledge, and Parvati Devi, the embodiment of pure love. “One attains completeness when knowledge and love come together. May my children’s hearts also become full of true knowledge and love. May my children be become the light of the entire world.”

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When Amma finished her talk, it was almost 1:00 a.m. “What now?” Amma asked. Someone suggested that Amma should dance. But Amma had an idea of her own—the promised testing was bout to begin—”One of you should dance!” Amma said. Eventually her eyes fell on one brahmachari from Kashmir—the land of Shaivism. He agreed. He rose to his feet, stood before Amma and offered his pranam. The music started: “Bolo Bolo Sabmilla Bolo Om Namah Shivaya.” For the next 20 minutes Amma and the ashramites sang the ecstatic song in praise of Lord Shiva while the brahmachari offered his devotional dance to Amma—in front of 5,000 people. It seemed like Amma would sing the bhajan all night long. She just   kept going and going, calling out louder and louder, raising the tempo faster and faster.

It was the middle of the night, but everyone in Amritapuri was wide awake—inside and out.

Was Shivaratri in Amritapuri a festival of austerity or of rejoicing?

—Kannadi
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1 The results of our past actions that are destined to bear fruit in this life.