ganesh visarjan

Ganesh Visarjan at Amritapuri

27 Aug 2015, Amritapuri
After being kept in the puja for the past 10-days, the Ganesha statue was taken in a procession. From Kalari, around the Kali Temple towards the main hall Ganesha was carried with fervent bhajans and Panchavadyam, while Amma is giving darshan. Ashram elephant Lakshi also followed. Then it was carried to the sea for immersion.

With the chants of Ganapati Bappa Moriya the idol was submerged in the ocean – reminding us that all names and forms are will merge in the consciousness ultimately.

 

 

 

Ganesh chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi celebration at Amritapuri

18 Aug 2015, Amritapuri

Ganesh Chaturthi festival was celebrated in the Ashram with much devotion and enthusiasm. After the Ganapati Homa in the Kalari, a special puja was held to worship the Lord in the form of an Elephant, in this case the Ashram elephant Lakshmi.

An idol of Ganesh has been kept in front of the Kalari, and daily evening bhajans are sung by a group of enthusiastic devotees after the regular ashram bhajans. On the tenth day it will be taken to the sea for Visarjan (immersion).

independence day 2015

India’s Independence Day celebrations by AYUDH

15 August 2015

AYUDH Amritapuri performed the play ‘Bharat Mata Puja 2015′ in the main hall, while Amma was giving darshan. This night play was in connection with India’s Independent day celebrations. The play was based on the un-sung heroes of the freedom struggle. After the 40 minutes of play, the hall reverberated with the chants of ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

One girl dressed as Bharat Mata, took the National tri-colour flag to Amma which she accepted and waved with such joy and innocence of a child.

The youths also made an India map with lamps. This celebration of ‘Unity in Diversity’ could create respect and love the hearts for the Motherland.

Earlier in the day AYUDH also conducted Amalabharatam, a city cleaning program in Vallikkavu town.

– Das

 

 

 

 

gurupurnima blessing

Guru is the embodiment of the Scriptures

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31 July 2015, Amritapuri

Gurupurnima was celebrated with much devotion and enthusiasm at Amritapuri today. Many devotees came from different parts of India and the world to be with the Guru.

Amma’s Padapuja was performed by Swami Amritaswarupanda with the chanting of Guru Gita and 108 Names. All the swamis garlanded Amma, Amma showered blessings upon every one.

 

gurupurnima blessings

Amma addressed the overflowing hall on the significance of the principle of the Guru. The following remarks are excerpted from her address:
“The Guru tattwa (Guru principle) is eternal. Gurus lived these ideals in their lives. The disciples observed this and tried to live those ideals in their lives as well. God and the Guru are one. However, the Guru principle that elevates the soul to the state of liberation is beyond the divine principle. There is nothing whatsoever that the Guru needs to gain or do. He guides the disciple out of compassion alone.


“The disciple has innumerable weaknesses and tendencies. It takes boundless patience to lead such a disciple. Sacrifice and austerity are ever ablaze in the Guru’s life. Every word from such Gurus is scripture. Their very life is scripture. They are also the ones who impart vitality to the scriptures.

“Spirituality starts with compassion and ends in compassion. When we put a stone in a pond, ripples radiate from the stone and touch the shore. They then come back and reach the center. It begins with the center and ends with the center- the bindu. This central point is Love. ”

After the talk, Amma sang the bhajans, “Sakala Kala Devate Saraswati Devi,” and “Guruvadi vani sun lo” and at the end asked every one to dance to the last bhajan “Bolo Bolo sab mil bolo Om Namah shivaya.” She then led the assembled crowd in a silent prayer for world peace. After that, Amma started giving darshan till 10.43 pm.

Earlier, before Amma’s padapuja,  Swami Amritaswarupananda addressed the gathering, spoke about Amma’s greatness as the Guru.

pongala-amma

Pongal festival – it’s meaning and significance

Pongal is celebrated the day on which the sun begins to move northwards is called ‘Makar Shankranti’. In Tamil Nadu this festival is called the Pongal or Thai Pongal. The period is referred to as Uttarayanam and is considered auspicious. Pongal is a four-day festival.

The first day, Bhogi, is celebrated on the last day of the month of Margazhi. On this day, people decorate their homes. New vessels are bought and clean up home and environment.

The second day is Perum Pongal, is the most important. People worship Surya, the Sun God. Women decorate the central courtyard of their homes with beautiful kolams, done with rice flour and bordered with red clay. The Pongal payasam is cooked in the early morning during the sunrise, exactly at the moment when the new month is born.

The third day is Mattu Pongal, celebrated to glorify cattle that help farmers in a myriad ways. On this day, the cows are bathed and decorated with vermilion and garlands and fed.
The last day is Kaanum Pongal. It is that part of the festival when families used to gather on the riverbanks and have a sumptuous meal. It is also time for some traditional dances such as kummi and kolattam. Special prayers are offered by women for the well-being of their brothers.

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.

Amma says “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.”

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.

“Pongal means ‘to overflow.’ The time when humankind’s love for nature and nature’s love for humankind overflow—that is Pongal. Human beings make nature happy by having good thoughts and doing good actions. Nature blesses humankind with a bountiful harvest. When the universal mind and the individual mind overflow and become one—that is what Pongal is symbol of.

“Matru-devo bhava, Pitr-devo bhava, acharya-devo bhava atithi-devo bhava—‘May you see your mother as God, your father as God, your teacher as God, your guests as God’—this is what Sanatana Dharma teaches us. Respect everything, worship everything. Why? Because there is nothing other than God. May this Pongal Festival be an opportunity for you to you to instill this culture and God deeply within and spread it without.

“Festivals are, in fact for everyone living in the area. Even people working far away will return home in order to participate. Everyone will sit together, eat together and remember old times together. On such occasions, we experience the joy and exuberance that occur when hearts come together. These festivals are sacred moments that help us to establish love and unity and nourish our relationships.

2014 xmasplay

The Lord’s Prayer: a musical on the life of St. Francis

On December 24th, 2014 – Christmas Eve – the ashram celebrated Christmas in the presence of our beloved Amma by presenting the stories of St. Francis of Assisi and two of his closest companions – Priest Sylvester and St. Claire.

More than 170 ashram residents and visitors from more than 15 countries across the world worked together to perform this musical theatre piece “The Lord’s Prayer”, which included an original script, music and lyrics, dance choreography, extensive hand-painted sets, hand-made costumes, and hand-made marionettes.

This labor of love told excerpts from the lives of these three figures, framed within the context of an individual’s experience with prayer, and how prayer carries us along the spiritual path. They are examples of how an “ordinary” person can leave behind a life based on material prosperity in search of a life centered on God; a life devoted to developing humility, compassion, forgiveness and unconditional love.

 

The production evoked lines of the original Lord’s Prayer as a refrain, highlighting the truth that the fundamental aspects of prayer have been unchanged through the centuries; we still pray for wisdom and guidance along the spiritual path, and for the grace and strength to persevere in the face of life’s obstacles.

Interestingly Amma was also talking on the science of prayer and its importance in spiritual life {read Amma’s message here} in her Christmas message

The 90-minute production was performed as an offering to Amma and a live audience of several thousand people on the ashram’s main stage. The audience sat spellbound throughout, rapt by the beautiful choreography of dramatic, heartfelt performances, soul-stirring song and dance, and technical and artistic feats including a three-story stage as well as lifelike birds in flight. In the finale, the audience let out a collective sigh of joy and delight as Amma’s oft-visualized prayer that the world be showered with white flowers of peace was brought to life, with thousands of lifelike imitation flowers showered down onto the performers and the audience’s front rows from the rafters above the stage, more than four stories into the air. As the performers took their final bow, the audience rose to their feet and offered a standing ovation and cheers of appreciation.

– Dass

xmaspano

 

 

2014 xmas

Rebirth happens when we completely die to our ego

From Amma’s Christmas Message

God is said to be the embodiment of infinite divine qualities. He is beyond word and thought. It is through the lives of mahatmas that one directly experiences the divinity of God. The specialty of mahatmas is that they practice what they preach. In this regard, Jesus Christ was no different. He was the embodiment of self-sacrifice, love, knowledge and spiritual experience. Christ’s life itself was his message.

When we look at the lives of great like Sri Krishna and Jesus, we see that there were many evil powers that tried to harm them. There is a spiritual lesson in this: When spiritual knowledge—which can be equated to the divine child—is about to take birth, one’s selfish and materialistic tendencies will try to stop it. Only if one puts forth sincere effort with alertness and care will they attain Self-knowledge. If oil is poured over a spark, the spark will be extinguished. However, once the spark becomes a huge fire, no matter how much oil you pour on it, it will not be extinguished; the oil will be consumed by the fire. Similarly, when spiritual awareness is just beginning to expand within us, all of our negative tendencies and thoughts will try to block it. However, when one is established in Self-knowledge, there will be no place for materialistic tendencies and negativities. All great gurus take birth with the goal of removing the darkness of ignorance and adharma [unrighteousness] from the minds of humankind and spreading the light of knowledge.

Freedom & Bondage
Jesus’ birth reveals another profound spiritual principle. Jesus wasn’t born in a grand palace. He was born in a humble place—in a corner of a stable. His parents were not wealthy or learned. They had nothing to call their own, except their own mental purity. Moreover, other than a few blessed individuals, very few people knew about his birth. The teaching we should take from this is that spiritual awakening comes to those seekers who are humble and patient. Empty yourself of ego and I shall come and rest within—this is the essence of the Lord’s message.

If we take Sri Krishna’s life, we see that he was born in the jail where the wicked Kamsa had imprisoned his parents, Vasudeva and Devaki. The jail represents spiritual ignorance, and Krishna’s birth represents the birth of Self-knowledge, which breaks open the prison doors and frees us. While in jail, Devaki and Vasudeva prayed intensely to the Paramatman. This led to the birth of Lord Krishna. Love has no boundaries and can never be imprisoned behind walls. Even though ostensibly we are all free, we are still trapped in the jails of our ignorant minds. On the other hand, even if a mahatma is put in real jail, internally he is ever free. The external world can never bind a mahatma. Even though mahatmas may live in the world, they are detached from it, like butter floating on water.

The Science of Prayer
When true surrender dawns within, we will awaken and arise. Our state today is that we have knowledge but lack awareness. We may see things, yet we don’t really see them. We may hear things, but we don’t really listen. The reason for this is that our mind is never present in what we see and hear. There is a bhajan that goes, “O Lord, I have come with folded hands before you. Please, listen to me.” The real meaning here is that it is we who—through the heightened awareness of prayer—need to see and listen. Currently our mind is never in the present; it is always wandering this way and that. Although God is within us, we are not in God. Many things in the world bind our mind. To bring the mind back to God, prayer can be extremely useful.

If you were to fall into a deep pit and there were no one around to pull you out, imagine the intensity with which you would call out for help. Such intensity should be there in our prayers. We should call out to the Divine from the bottom of our heart, with a child like innocence. Prayer, chanting one’s mantra and meditation are different ways to awaken the Divine within us.

If we extend our arm outwards and hold a thick book, we may be able to manage to hold it there for five minutes or so. If we force ourselves to hold it like that for an hour, our hand will ache terribly. If we are forced to hold it the whole day, then someone will have to call an ambulance. It is the same way with our sorrow. We need to unburden ourselves of our sorrows, leaving them at the feet of the Divine through heartfelt prayer.

In olden days there would be slabs of stone along the roadside that would be supported by pillars. People carrying huge sacks on their heads or shoulders could place their loads on these slabs and rest for a while. Many of us are shouldering such heavy loads within—more than we can really manage. When we enter the puja room to pray, it is an opportunity to unburden ourselves of this weight.

Let your hearts melt in prayer. Praying with intensity is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, just as the wax fuels the flame as it melts, intense prayer awakens our devotion and love.

Crying for God is one of the ways to grow closer to the Divine. There are numerous ways to reach the top of a mountain. One person may climb the steps. Another may be pulled up in a basket. Some may scale the rocks… We cannot say that one way is better than another. This is why there are so many spiritual practices enumerated in Sanatana Dharma. If a restaurant has just one dish, not everyone will enjoy it. If a shoe store were to sell only one size of shoe, very few people will be able to buy shoes there. Similarly, no one can say one path is better than another.

Even when we do Self-inquiry, negating the body, emotions and intellect and reminding ourselves that we are the Atma, we are still using the mind to do so. The state that the mahavakyas such as tat tvam asi—”You are That”—reveal are also experienced in prayer when the ego dissolves through the persistent awareness, “I am nothing; You are everything.”

When Devaki and Vasudeva or Mary and Joseph prayed intensely with surrender, understanding that they had nowhere but to the Lord to go for help, then the divine child was born to them. That divinity is there within each one of us, but we are currently unable to see it because our hearts are closed. It is like we are sitting in a boarded-up room and complaining that we are unable to experience the sunlight. If one shines a light in the eyes of a blind man, will he see anything? If someone holds a fragrant flower or sprays perfume under the nose of someone with nasal congestion, will he experience the fragrance? Our heart has to open. When a flower is still in the bud stage, one cannot enjoy its beauty and fragrance. Only when it blossoms can that be experienced.

Rebirth & death of ego
By birth, human beings are children of the universe, but they can be reborn as the children of God as well. This rebirth happens when we completely die to our ego. When the last trace of ego vanishes, that is when the real birth of our identity as the Supreme Self takes place within us. This is not something that is to be experienced after we die. We have to die to the ego, before we really die.

It’s not easy to transcend the ego. When Self-knowledge dawns within, the ego automatically disappears. Ego is like darkness. Darkness is not a something that can be removed. However, when you shine light, it automatically disappears. To bring in the light of Self-knowledge, one needs to engage themselves constantly in sravanam, mananam and nididhyasanam—learning the spiritual teachings, clearing one’s doubts regarding them and then dwelling in those truths.

Our ego has become strong because of our identification to our status and position, and it’s not easy to overcome this attachment. When someone praises us, we easily fall prey to the ego. On the other hand, even if we hear that our true nature is the Supreme Self 10,000 times, it still fails to truly sink in.

The spirit of Christmas is sharing and caring
As Christmas approaches, decorations light up most of the towns and cities, and shops are filled with customers buying Christmas presents for themselves and their near and dear ones. But amidst all this, the focus should not shift from the eternal to the ephemeral. As we enjoy the creation, let us also remember the Creator. If a friend sends you some chocolates, you can enjoy them and at the same time remember your friend as well. In a similar way, we need to keep our focus on the Creator.

Let us try to speak words with a selfless attitude. Words have a lot of power. One wrong word can drive someone to suicide and one right word can save someone as well. There are people who come to Amma and say, “Such and such a person said this to me. I’ve decided to end my life. I’ve even decided the date. What is the point in living in such a world? I loved him and helped him so selflessly. But what I got in return was the exact opposite.” When Amma spends time talking to them and consoling them, they change their decision and go back relieved. What is it that Amma is giving but a few heartfelt words?

We need to perform good actions. This will make us befitting to receive God’s grace. When we flow towards others, God flows towards us. Many people say, “I’ve done so many years of spiritual practices and seva, but what have I got in return?” This is not the right attitude. It should be, “At least I was able to do this many spiritual practices. At least I could do this much service to the world.” If we sow a seed, it may or may not sprout. If it doesn’t sprout, we will have to sow it again. But with good actions it’s never like that. The impressions of our good actions never go away. They are like fixed deposits and will always stay with us. They are not like businesses where we have to start all over again if we incur losses.

The spirit of Christmas is sharing and caring. Let us not just be focused on our lives alone. Let us look around a little and see the needs of others as well. Even if you are able to help just one person, then you have made a difference. If my children can do this, that would be the real Christmas celebration.

The birth of the Lord should take place in our hearts. Let us decorate the manger of our hearts with good thoughts, sweet words and compassionate actions. May the Paramatman rest there always. May grace bless everyone. Amma wishes her children a very Merry Christmas.

* Extracted from the message Amma delivered in Amritapuri Ashram, 25 December 2014.

 

By the blessings of Amma we can get rid of violence and terrorism: Rajnath Singh

27 Sep 2014, Amritapuri
Amritavarsham – Amma’s 61st Birthday celebrations

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh applauded the spiritual guidance and humanitarian initiatives of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi as her charitable trust announced a Rs 25 crore relief and rehabilitation package for victims of the devastating floods in Jammu and Kashmir.

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The Minister who arrived here on Saturday to take part in Amma’s 61st birthday celebrations also formally handed over the keys of the houses that the Mata Amritanandamyi Math has constructed in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand, for 250 families that lost their homes in the flash floods in June 2013.

Speaking on the occassion he said: “I feel very blessed today to have received an opportunity to meet Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. To be honest, I am here today only for receiving Darshan from Amma and not to give a speech.

“Mata Amritanandamayi Devi is a definitely a spiritual power within whom manifests the Ocean of Love, Compassion and Forgiveness. I personally believe that the solution to all problems of this country, the earth and the entire universe is only possible through Love, Compassion and Forgiveness. These qualities will never arise in a person who is narrow minded and closed in heart but will definitely arise in a person who is broad minded and who has a very open heart. Only such a person will achieve happiness, joy, bliss and even immortality.

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“Our Mother — Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, is so broad minded and so full of love that she not only has concerns for the entire humanity but also for all of the living beings such as animals, birds and even insects in this world. If at all there is a Mother of the universe, then it definitely is none other than Mata Amritanadamayi Deviji.

“Do you know why I call her the Divine Mother? It’s because when she was just 6 months of age, she began to walk and talk. When she was 3 years old, she began writing and composing Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s songs and poems and by the time she was 5 years old she even started singing them. This is only because of the fact that she is not just a human being but a divine being.

“Our Mother, ‘Amma’ had imbibed or absorbed the complete essence of Vedanta at a very tender age. The ‘Moola Mantra‘ or the prime essence of Vedanta is, ‘yat pinde tat brahmande‘. Which means “Everything in our body exists in the universe, everything in the small exists in the big, and everything in me is in you”. Amma lives this philosophy.

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“My prime concern as the Home Minister of India, is about the terrorism, extremism, insurgency problems and the violence that our country is facing. I honestly believe that we can get rid of and get relieved of this violence and terrorism through the grace and blessings of our divine mother Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

“Sisters and brothers, please believe that not only India which has Amma as the supreme divine power, but also the entire universe will experience supreme happiness, joy and prosperity. I also believe that Love, Compassion, Forgiveness and Selfless Service is the only cure for any type of hurt, wound or disease that exists in this world. This is the message that Amma imparts to India and the entire world. I strongly believe that through Amma’s blessings, India will not only become a super economic power but will also become a Super Spiritual Power. And that is when India will become the Spiritual Guru of the entire World and will also proudly say ‘The entire world is our family'”, said the minister amidst the thunderous applauds of the devotees.

Before concluding his words, Rajnath Singhji offered his prayers to Amma in Malayalam which brought smiles to every one, the huge gathering of devotees at the cultural meet (Jayanthi Samelanam) organised on the occasion of the ‘Amritavarsham 61′ celebrations.

Empowerment through sanitation in Odisha

27 Sep 2014, Amritapuri
Amritavarsham – Amma’s 61st Birthday Celebrations

Public hygiene and improved sanitation for its population is India’s newest priority; in order to achieve this goal, India aims to end open defecation by 2019. Moreover there is a lack of sanitation awareness in these communities that consequently arise in preventable diseases.

 

To address the problems of lack of toilets in the country, Ammachi Labs of Amrita University is rolling out vocational courses such as Masonry, Plumbing and Electrical Wiring through which women in villages are being taught construction, installation and maintenance of toilets. This project is creating ambassadors for women safety and hygiene.

As part of the first phase of its latest project, 20 women in the village of Bhoi Sahi in Odisha have become agents of change and an inspiration for all women, having completed building fully functional toilets in their own homes.

The women started building the toilets earlier this month and have completed 9 toilets with another 11 more on the way.

Amma’s initiatives in empowering women have taken an innovative turn with the introduction of technology to deliver vocational education. The Bhoi Sahi women are thrilled to acquire new skills and learn through computers. One of the students, Shantilata explained that currently the women travel one kilometer to relieve themselves in the field. Many of them travel there in the early mornings and late at nights to attain some sort of privacy.

“It is quite brilliant what Amrita University is trying to do through this initiative – converting their most acute problem which is open defecation and lack of basic hygiene, into an opportunity to solve their immediate problems on ground as well as facilitating the increase in quality of life through skill development.”, quotes Sreeram, a field researcher at Ammachi Labs.

Ammachi Labs has provided vocational training using technology to more than 4000 women from rural and tribal areas, to date. Ammachi Labs’ revolutionary approach strives to achieve economic and social empowerment by using computerised vocational education training (cVET). The lab has developed Life Enrichment Education (LEE) courses to address existing social issues in the communities and practical training to support these women in acquiring new skills, we ensure each student enjoys a holistic experience. LEE awareness workshops were conducted and activities on hygiene, and have plans to deliver gender equality, human rights, and financial literacy modules to enhance their current understanding. With time, leaders emerged from the group of women who showed increasing amounts of initiative to sustain this project.

 

 

“With these new toilets, many expressed that they would feel safer and feel better about themselves; they see the short term rewards of having a toilet while reaping long term benefits for attaining a skill that they can generate an income for themselves and ensure the health of their families. It is our goal for these ladies that upon completion of the project, they form a women’s cooperative and receive support from one another” said Prof. R. Bhavani Rao, Director of Ammachi Labs.

Inspired by this Vishnu Prasad, the Sarpanch of Bhoisaahi came as a testament of his support for the project. He has sanctioned these women to construct 3,000 toilets for 10,000 Rs per toilet.

-Tulasi

 

Empowering women through vocational training

27 Sep 2014, Amritapuri
Amritavarsham – Amma’s 61st Birthday Celebrations

Amma’s initiatives in empowering women have taken an innovative turn with the introduction of technology to deliver vocational education with, more than 2,000 women have been trained in the last year alone through 33 centers in 12 Indian states. During Amritavarsham61, Radha Mohandas Agarwal, Chief Whip, UP and Vellappilly Natesan gave away certificates of completion to graduates in such fields as plumbing, nursing, masonry and jewelry-making.

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Vocational-training is an important part of the MAM’s Amrita SeRVe village-empowerment program.

AMMACHI Lab’s Heartfelt Arts empowers women artisans and cooperatives to leverage their newly learned skills into creating beautiful handicrafts and products that generate sustainable income for their communities. In attendance, are hundreds of women artisans from 16 centers across India. On this occassion, Vellapally Natesan, General Secretary of the SNDP launched a new website www.heartfeltarts.com where they will be able to showcase their handicrafts.