AYUDH- together we can

“Together We Can” – AYUDH’s 11th European Union Youth Initiative

AYUDH Europe’s annual Youth Summit at M.A Center Germany was a grand event, marking the genesis of its second decade. The initiative is growing stronger in spirits and strength with each passing year. This year AYUDH saw nearly three hundred participants from twenty-three countries take part in the week long retreat, themed ‘Together We Can’. They were from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, Ukraine and USA.

The Youth Summit was packed with an a variety of events: Motivational talks, wide range of workshops, anti-cyber-bullying campaign, sports competitions, music video shooting, picnic and a spectacular music and dance show to conclude the week. Spiritual practices were offered every day, including meditation, devotional singing and yoga.

Inspiring Talks

Renowned personalities from various fields gave inspiring talks related to the theme ‘Together We Can.’Israel’s ex-minister for education and current member of parliament Rabbi Shai Moshe Piron led an interactive session with Adi Altschuler, a social activist from Israel, who was selected as a ‘Next Generation Leader’by TIME magazine. Adi related her story of founding the large youth movement ‘Krembo Wings’at age sixteen, opening thirty-five branches across the country with three thousand youth volunteers to interact and become friends with disabled children. She encouraged the youth to effect change in society by taking a leap of faith and follow their dreams and visions. Rabbi Shai Peron gave beautiful insights into the changes that need to come into the education system, and also surprised everyone by playing the guitar and teaching a Hebrew peace-song to the audience.

Manish Pandey (UK), writer of the Bafta winning documentary Senna, related the turning points of his life and by example captivated and motivated the audience. He highlighted how any successful project relies on the spirit of togetherness and contribution of all members involved.

Award-winning Italian filmmaker Marzia Mete presented her inspiring musical video ‘Motherless Child’which was themed around ‘finding a home’. She expressed her support and views on giving care to the homeless.

Lucia Rijker, six times Kickboxing and Boxing world-champion, attended the summit for the second time after 2011. She inspired all attendees with her speech and gave wonderful answers in the Q&A session that followed.

Bri. Dipamrita, leader of the NGO ‘Embracing the World France’gave an impactful speech on the current climatic changes and the urgent need to act together in order to avoid a global catastrophe.

To top it all, during the last couple of days Br. Shubamrita led incredible seminars and discussions. His interactive talks were based on the topics: “Building a Vision of Life,” and “Team Building.” After the talk on building the vision, a symbolic tree of life was placed on the stage and every participant was encouraged to write his or her personal dreams, as well as goals to be achieved by the AYUDH community, on a paper leaf and attach it to the tree.

 

Workshops

A large variety of workshops was offered by professionals from the respective fields: AYUDH Project Management, HOPE (Harps Of PEace -Therapeutic Harp Playing), Photography, African Drumming, Hip Hop Dance, Raw Vegan Lifestyle, Permaculture, AnanDao (Martial Arts), Self-Development through Interaction with Horses, IAM Meditation for Youth, Artwork and Thai Yoga.

The finale of the Summit was marked by a multicultural festival called ‘OdenWorld’, which was attended by six 600 hundred people from the surrounding towns as well as guests from different parts of Germany and abroad. The concept of the show was to combine AYUDH talents with local artists from the Odenwald region. District Coordinator Dietrich Kübler addressed the gathering and expressed his admiration for the good work of AYUDH and Amma. The entertainment included musical performances from the local school’s band and the African Drumming Band Bingoma. AYUDH’s contributions ranged from classical renditions to traditional dances from the Basque region to the AYUDH band performing their hit songs and a seemingly never-ending version of Mata Rani.

The highlight of the evening was the appearance of Dundu – the giant of light – a gigantic human figurate that is self-illumined. Standing as a symbol for the unity and oneness of all people, Dundu impressed the audience with a mesmerizing drama and then in an unforgettable dance, concluding with the theme song ‘One Heart.’

Like every year, the Mayor of Brombachtal, Willi Kredel, handed over certificates of participation to all AYUDH members. The initiative was also supported by the Municipalities of Michelstadt and Brombachtal, and the Foundation of the Sparkasse, Odenwald.

– Das

 

 

 

 

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Brahmasthanam Temple Consecration at Manjeri

23-24 April, Manjeri, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2015

Amma consecrated the 22nd Brahmasthanam Temple in Manjeri, Kerala on 23 April 2015. The first temple was consecrated in Kodungallur, Kerala in 1987. ( see the list of temples)

Amma reached Manjeri on early on the 22nd after her Singapore, Malaysia, Australia yatra.

Thousands had come to join this auspicious occasion of the installation of the temple–from all over India and around the world. A group of American devotees came all the way to India to witness the temple consecration. Amidst the chanting of ‘Om Shiva Shaktiaikya Roopinyai Namah’ and the traditional percussive sounds of panchavadyam, Amma started pujas at ten in the morning for the kalasas, or pots mounted on the temple.

As Amma invoked the blessings of all beings and nature, she was in an ecstatic mood, her eyes revealing something of that which is beyond.

Tazhikakuda consists of three brass bowls set vertically on a central spike, each smaller than the one below it. Amma filled each pot of Tazhikakuda with navdhanya (nine types of food grains) before placing it. Then Amma did abhisheka to eac pot, which contains water energized by days of mantra japa. Then she did arati to it, prayed, invoking the divine, showered flowers all around, and sat in meditation for some time.

Finally she entered the temple. The 250-kilogram murti, having undergone a seven-day process of purification, was brought into the temple and the doors were closed and Amma installed the deity. Devotees continued chanting and the whole atmospere was charged with energy. After 20 minutes, the temple doors were opened. Amma performed arati to the newly installed murti, pouring another 108 kalashas of mantra-infused water. It was such a charming sight to watch Amma doing abhisheka, lost to this world, in a divine mood.

Later Amma started her satsang, noting that the real installation of god has to be done within one’ss heart. Even though each one has different dharmas (duties) to be performed at different stages of life, Amma said that our supreme dharma is to realize God. That is the purpose of life, Amma reminded the assembled crowd–you get into the pond to clean yourself and get back out, not to drown there.

The next day, Amma gave away Vidyamritam student scholarships and Amrita Nidhi monthly pensions to the needy. Special guests included renowned poet Akkitham, Guruvayoor tantri (priest) Chennas Dineshan Nampootirippad, famous writer KB Sridevi and former MP O. Rajagopal. The guests also helped to distribute the scholarships and pensions. Amma herself distributed seeds to promote organic vegetable cultivation in each household.

In the evening there was heavy rain and thunderstorms. It is unusual to have such heavy rain in the summer. All the stalls were drenched in water. You could see an umbrella on Amma too since the stage was also leaking but Amma continued giving darshan. Devotees came with drenching cloths and wading in water on the floor. The scene called to mind Amma’s first visit to Manjeri, in 1996, for an evening program. Back then, it started with drizzle and by midnight it had become a downpour. Yet neither Amma nor the people would stop or leave. {see pics}

For such a large program to be successful, many volunteers are necessary. One could see AYUDH volunteers and Amrita Vidyalayam students serving everywhere with joy and enthusiasm. Everyone was happy to be part of this addition to the constellation of Amma’s Brahmasthanam Temples, each one burning brightly in the minds and hearts of the devotees, like a star illuminating the night sky.

The two-day celebrations came to an end at 1:15 am with Amma singing the song “Mariyamma, Mariyamma Shankari Taye…” and with the devotees taking Amma into their heart and installing her love there as the real temple which will always remain with them, wherever they may go.

– Kannadi

 

Amrita Keerti Puraskar to S Rameshan Nair

27 Sep 2014, Amritapuri
Amritavarsham Amma’s Birthday Celebrations

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy presenting Amritakeerti Puraskar to devotional poet S Rameshan Nair in the presence of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi on the occasion of Amritavarsham 61.
S. Ramesan Nair is a devotional poet, playwright, lyricist and as a translator and commentator upon classical Indian literature such as the Tamil works Chalappathikaram and Thirukkural.

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The Amritakeerti Puraskar comes with a cash prize of Rs. 1,23,456, a statuette of Saraswati Devi and a citation.

Ramesan Nair to receive Amritakeerthi Puraskar for 2014

ramesan-nairAmritapuri: This year’s Amrita Keerthi Puraskar will be bestowed upon renowned litterateur S. Ramesan Nair. The award will be presented on September 27th, 2014, in Amritapuri, during Amma’s 61st Birthday Celebrations.

The Amritakeerthi Puraskar is awarded annually since 2001 to eminent personalities for making outstanding contributions in the fields of spirituality, philosophy, culture and literature. The award comes with a cash prize of Rs. 1,23,456, a statuette of Saraswati Devi sculpted by the renowned sculptor, Artist Namboodiri and a citation.

Ramesan Nair has made lifelong contribution to Indian culture through his poems, plays, lyrics, translations and commentaries. The Amritakeerthi Puraskar Committee cited his translations of and commentaries upon the Tamil classics Chilappathikaram and Tirukkaral, his compilation of poetry and commentary on Neetisaarangal.

Sri. S. Ramesan Nair has received several literary awards in the past including the Poonthanam Award, Janmashtami Puraskaram, Revathy Pattathanam Puraskaram, Kerala Sahitya Academy Award, Sanjayan Puraskaram of Tapasya, Puthezhan Puraskaram, Edassery Puraskaram, Venmani Puraskaram and Ottur Puraskaram. He has also been recognized by the Government of Tamil Nadu for his many translations from Tamil to Malayalam.

Meeting of generations

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On a sunny afternoon the members of the Swiss children’s satsang performed, danced, and played in the nearby retirement home in Flaach. This was done as part of the social awareness development program.

The program focused on folklore with Swiss songs and music from eastern Europe. The children sang most joyfully and the elderly people tapped their toes to the rhythm of the music. They knew most of the songs from the days of their youth and some of them even sang along with the youngsters. It was a very touching moment to see this meeting of generations.

AYUDH grows organic food for good in Netherlands

AYUDH Netherlands took part in the the biggest volunteer event in the Netherlands, ‘NLdoet’. During the weekend Saturday, March 22, over 325.000 volunteers were active all over the Netherlands. For AYUDH it was a great opportunity to lend a hand.

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This time AYUDH helped planting fruit trees and bushes in the fruit- and vegetable garden ‘Food for Good’. In this garden members of the community and people from vulnerable sections of society work together to grow vegetables and herbs. Part of the harvest goes to the people who help in the garden, the other part to the food bank. This way they provide the neighbourhood with healthy organic food.

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AYUDH helped planting quince trees, medlars, white, red, and black currants, raspberry bushes, and preparing the soil in the greenhouse where they will plant cucumbers, tomatoes, paprikas and other vegetables.

10th European AYUDH Youth Initiative: Awareness in Action

Awareness in Action!

The 10th European AYUDH Youth Initiative, “Awareness in Action,” was an overwhelming success. Nearly 300 youth between the ages of 15 and 30 from nearly 23 countries gathered from 13th – 20th July 2014 at M.A. Center Germany, Brombachtal, to take part in the event. The general theme of the initiative was how to use awareness as a tool to develop better physical and mental health, as well as to improve the health of society and nature.

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One of the highlights of the week-long program was the visit of Swami Amritaswarupananda, the Vice Chairman of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, for the Youth Initiative. Swamiji’s talk, question-and-answer session and bhajans, held on July 16 at M.A. Center, was very well received by the youngsters. The other speakers were Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya, Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya and Mr. Jani Toivola (Member of Parliament from Finland).

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of AYUDH in Europe, the youth visited the EU Parliament in Strasbourg on September 17th. The conference, titled “Strengthening Europe Through Youth Empowerment,” was a great success. The event highlighted the success of AYUDH in implementing the EU’s youth strategy, specifically through the “Youth in Action” program of the European Commission, which has supported AYUDH since 2007. After the event the youth went to the city center of Strasbourg to do a flash mob, conveying the ideals of AYUDH through song and dance.

To deepen the topic of “awareness” in practical and creative ways, participants could choose from 16 workshops: archery, kung-fu, acting, permaculture, photography, artwork, dance, singing, self-awareness through interaction with horses, sensitive living, tai-chi, IAM-Meditation for youth, yoga, In-Deed sustainability campaign for school children and clowning.

Christina Tourin, an internationally renowned harpist and pioneer in harp-therapy, led an exclusive workshop in therapeutic harp. In continuation with the workshop, six youth were enrolled in AYUDH’s HOPE (Harps Of PEace) project. Under this project they will receive a free harp and online lessons for the duration of one year. Together with their local AYUDH groups, they can visit care homes for senior citizens and apply the healing benefits of music to body and spirit.

Upon the invitation of the city of Michelstadt, AYUDH went to a new permaculture demonstration site to create six large vegetable beds and plant five walnut trees, representing the five continents. With a lot of joy and enthusiasm the youth also prepared beds for 23 fruit-trees, symbolic for the 23 nationalities present at the summit. Since the current season is not conducive to the planting of fruit trees, they will be planted during Amma’s visit to Germany later this year. Mr. Stefan Kelbert, honorable Mayor of Michelstadt, welcomed the youth and expressed his gratitude and admiration for the successful collaboration between AYUDH and the city of Michelstadt over the past years.

Daily sessions in mediation, bhajans, tai chi and yoga offered the youth an opportunity to deepen their self-awareness and find more inner balance and inspiration. As one of the EU’s 2014 priorities is “sports and healthy lifestyle,” the youth organized a sports tournament including soccer, volleyball, acrobatics, running, dance and archery.
Directed by Jani Toivola, the youth also shot a music video clip to the new AYUDH song “Be the First.” Each workshop group choreographed a scene in the video to display the diversity of activities during the summit. A talent show was organized on July 19th, wherein the youth showed their skills in performing arts. It was a true celebration of the talent, cultural diversity and joy of AYUDH.

On July 20, Mr. Willi Kredel, the Mayor of Brombachtal, attended the summit and handed over certificates of participation to all those present. This AYUDH summit reached a new dimension of intercultural exchange, personal empowerment and project development.

For one year leading up to the summit, AYUDH members across Europe had periodically met to discuss the topics they felt deserved more awareness in European society. They identified 10 categories, which included topics like nutrition, lifestyle, participation in society and ecological sustainability. These topics were explored in detail, with the assistance of professionals from the respective fields. Based on these discussions the youth developed concrete action plans, which will be implemented as follow-up projects in their respective home countries.

As a new social outreach project the AYUDH members decided to sponsor 200 sticks for a school for blind children in Thika, Kenya. The ultimate goal of AYUDH is to extend the sponsorship program to all five existing schools for blind children in Kenya.

For the eighth time, the AYUDH youth initiative has been recognized by the European Union’s “Youth in Action” program. Over the years, AYUDH has been acknowledged as one of the best youth projects in Germany, which inspires a sense of active citizenship, solidarity and tolerance among young Europeans and involves them in shaping the Union’s future.

– Dass

See more in pictures..

300 AYUDH members meet at European Parliament

EU Parliament, Strasbourg, France – 17 July 2014

Several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) joined AYUDH Europe (Amrita Yuva Dharma Dhara), the youth wing of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM), for its 10th Anniversary Celebrations at the European Parliament at Strasbourg in France.

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The event titled “Strengthening Europe through Youth Empowerment”, engaged nearly 300 young participants from 23 countries. Inspired by the life and teachings of Amma, AYUDH has reached out to thousands of young people across Europe during the last ten years with its programmes in intercultural exchange, voluntary service, sustainable development and leadership building.

The dignitaries who participated in the event included MEPs Frank Engel (Luxembourg), Deirdre Clune (Ireland), Miltiadis Kyrkos (Greece) and Jani Toivola (Finland) besides Martine Reicherts, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

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MAM Vice-Chairman Swami Amritaswarupananda, in his keynote address, emphasized on the importance to inculcate values in our educational system and ways of teaching. About the alarming increase in the rate of school dropouts, use of drugs, violence, abuse of nature and crime rates among youngsters, he cited examples from Europe and other parts of the world. “The main reason for these dangerous situation is that education is not valued,” he said. “Life itself is not valued and true awareness and action are not valued.”

Swami Amritswarupananda further elaborated on the point saying, the goal was to help young people understand their relationship with the world in which they live, nature and the law of the universe. “In a democratic society, each individual should be endowed with various talents and proficiencies. One among them is the inner capacity to deal with people from different cultures,” he noted. “Based on this value system, they should be able to take objective and impartial decisions. Democratic societies must therefore take an interest that such skills be encouraged.”

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Ms Clune applauded all those who joined AYUDH movement. “I am sure you will carry the positive experiences from this for the rest of your life,” she said, and stressed on the certain measures taken by the EU on youth employment and ecological protection.

Mr Engel, who leads the Luxembourg delegation to the Parliament, said this continent which had been the home of war and destruction, now is a continent of peace and construction. “We have values that we cherish and the way to ensure that they are retained is through the youth carrying them ahead,” he said.

Martine Reicherts said a life in politics and a spiritual life are both possible. “Never go below your dignity. Keep up the values and don’t make it cheap,” she noted.

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The AYUDH youth also presented a five-point statement requesting the European leaders to consider taking the following steps: incorporate participation in voluntary and community service into formal education through recognized academic credit or curriculum design; encourage young people to take up the protection of biodiversity and community farming through the provision of awards and grants; establish high-quality, accessible care dedicated to improving mental health and wellbeing of youth, with particular emphasis on enhancing emotional and spiritual intelligence; provide young people with learning environments which nurture and support holistic lifestyles and creative self-expression; implement proactive, innovative measures to address the issue of youth unemployment through job creation, education, investment and dialogue.

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The event concluded with Swami Amritaswarupananda and Ms Reicherts taking questions from the youngsters. The focus was on different problems faced by youth in society today and their resolution.

Since 2007, AYUDH has been working closely with European Commission for Education and Culture under its ‘Youth in Action’ programme. The Commission selected AYUDH as ‘Best Practice Project’ in 2009 for ‘Reaching New Heights’, a musical on the challenges of young people in today’s world and in 2013 for the project ‘Our World. Our Vision. Our Future’, which focused on non-formal education of school children on ecological sustainability.

The event at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg is a part of a week long youth summit on the topic ‘Awareness in Action’, held in M.A. Center Germany (Frankfurt) from July 13 to 20.

Values from Valimiki, Sadgamaya Summer Camp for children

10 May 2014, Amritapuri

Sadgamaya Summer Camp 2014, with the theme “Values from Valmiki,” was conducted  at Amritapuri, May 7 – 10, 2014. 2,000 students attended the camp.

Addressing the students, Amma said that “Even in failure there is a lesson to learn. Understand it and move forward. In fact, if we can cultivate faith, enthusiasm and patience, we will never really fail in life.” In an hour long session she also answered few questions from the students. {read more from Amma’s talk}.
Swamini Krishnamrita Prana inaugurated the three-day workshop for 10th standard students studying at Amrita Vidyalayams throughout Kerala. Addressing the gathering, she asked the children to understand the value of  Indian culture. “Imitating the West, we are following them blindly, forgetting our values,” she said.

Br. Dhyanamrita Chaitanya gave a presentation on Valmiki Ramayana—its importance and relevance, its influence on art, culture, literature, the puranas and history.

Dr. Somasekharan enlightened the students on the teachings that can be found through the various brotherly relationships in the Ramayana.

E.V. Menon enthralled the students with his oration on the characters of the Ramayana and what they represent.

Vidyasagar spoke about Hanuman, telling the students that everything they needed to be successful in life can be found in the example set by Hanuman.

Br. Sivamrita Chaitanya explained why Ravana—in spite of being a very great scholar, musician and powerful king—was still ultimately a failure in life, due to his lack of guru’s grace.

Dr. Lakshmi Sankar spoke about Sita, telling the students that they should try to imbibe her straightforwardness and adherence to dharma.

Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri explained that Amma—a living personification of love, compassion and selflessness—is proof that such personalities as Rama and Sita existed.

The students also participated in various workshops including drama, painting, cartoon drawing, Vedic mathematics, recycling, gardening, etc. Yoga classes were also conducted by Bri Shobana and team.

After three days filled with workshops, classes, talks and group activities, the students went home with plenty of food for thought. It is our sincere wish that they will carry the values they discussed and contemplated during the Sadgamaya Summer Camp with them throughout their lives, and that these values will inform their decisions and actions as they grow into adulthood.

– Tulasi

AYUDH Portugal brings HOPE to care homes

During AYUDH’s 2013 youth summit in Germany “Our World, Our Vision, Our Future,” a group of young people were introduced to playing harp as a means of therapy. At the conclusion of the camp, two youth were awarded a harp with the idea that it would be used by them to play at care-homes in their country throughout the year. This is part of AYUDH’s new “HOPE—Harps of Peace” program, mentored by the world-renowned harpist and founder and director of the International Harp Therapy Program, Christina Tourin.

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In March 2014, members of AYUDH visited two care-homes for elderly people in the Lisbon area in order to brighten up their day with the soothing harp sounds and their youthful vibrancy. They brought the harp, as well as some other instruments, including a guitar, hang drum.

At one nursing home, the group spent time speaking with some elderly ladies, getting to know them and listening to their stories. They visited many bedridden people who often get only one or two visitors a year, playing music, singing and talking. In one house, they were attended the birthday party of a lady who just turned 101.

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One lady they visited had recently suffered a stroke. She could not move or talk. Blinking was her only means of communication. “As soon as she saw us, she opened her eyes wide, trying to see what all instruments we had brought,” recollects one of the AYUDH members. “As we played, she started moving her head, trying to somehow get up. Her mouth started to move a little and she made a little sound like, ‘Ah!’ It was an incredible moment for all of us! Even the staff of the care-home were amazed. We all felt such compassion and love in the room. Remembering it gives me a very warm feeling in my heart!”

– Dass