MAM to take up cleaning of schools and public place

Amritapuri, September 22nd, 2010

amma cleaningAmma (Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) said that the Mata Amritanandamayi Math is ready to take up the responsibility of cleaning schools and public places all over India if it has the support and co-operation of state governments and other organizations. “It is said that India is growing, that it is developing. However, in matters of environmental cleanliness and hygiene, we are lagging behind a lot. The lack of cleanliness in our roads and public bathrooms and toilets is proof of this,” said Amma.

Western countries maintain high standards of cleanliness on roads, in public places as well as in public bathrooms and toilets. In contrast, the standard of cleanliness in roads and public toilets in India is appalling. It has become a habit for people to urinate by roadsides and to spit on public roads and pavements. Even if there are waste bins present, they are not in the habit of disposing litter and food waste in these bins; they discard them by the side of the road or even in the middle of the road. Environmental cleanliness and hygiene are a part of development and cultural refinement. For this to happen, we need to plan widespread awareness campaigns. We should mount enough signboards on environmental cleanliness in public places, bus stands and roadsides.

Amma also stressed that the sincere support and co-operation of the television and print media are vital for the success of this mission. She said that the MAM is ready to construct public toilets in schools and public places if state governments, school management committees and local people collaborate.

This project will be implemented through proper blueprints, planning and the co-operation of students and the general public.

This project will be initiated in Kerala. Thereafter, it will be implemented gradually in other states of India.

— Kannadi

ayudh games

Youth meeting for a better future

la Ferme du Plessis, Paris
From July 24th to August 1st AYUDH and GreenFriends welcomed in la Ferme du Plessis more than 150 youth from all over the world to propose two different approaches of the various dimensions of ecology.

Entitled “Embracing Life – Living in the Respect of Nature”, the 6th European Youth Exchange of AYUDH welcomed in total 73 youth from 8 European countries and was co-sponsored by the European Commission’s “Youth in Action” programme.

The programme included inspirational talks by Br. Shubamrita and Bri. Dipamrita mainly focused on the values that can help us integrate our respect for Nature into our daily lives. Additional talks on our relationship to energy consumption by Mathieu Labonne, expert on carbon governance, and on water consumption by Pierre Taillandier and Clarisse Gimat made the youth aware of the complexity and origin of some of the major ecological challenges faced in the world today. Question and answer sessions complemented the talks and gave the youth the opportunity to enquire deeper and discuss both spiritual and scientific questions.

Four different workshop modules were offered to the participants of the youth exchange, and each participant could choose one workshop from each module, that were standing for the different dimensions of sustainability. They were called the “CARE” workshops, which stands for:

C – Community Service: In these workshops the youth could contribute to a sustainable community in different ways, like working in an organic vegetable garden, doing organic cooking or ecological restoration of the heritage site of la Ferme du Plessis.

A – Artistic: In these workshops the youth could develop and express their creative potential through painting, drumming or singing. Some youths were introduced to the ancient technique of tainted glass crafting, used in the cathedrals for times immemorial.

R – Revitalization: These workshops adressed the different dimensions of stress-management, enabling the youth to develop their creativity and productivity in study or at work. The IAM or IAM Youth Meditation, Tai Chi Chuan and Nei Gong, 5 Rhythm Dance, Non-Violent Communication or the “flow” workshop helped the youth find their inner strengths.

E – Ecology: These workshops were dedicated to environmental protection and maintenance of biodiversity, like building a “hotel” for insects, organic gardening on balconies and window shelves or recycling plastic trash into valuable fashion items.

For many youth this marked the 6th year of getting together for this European Youth Exchange. The deep bond that had formed amongst the youngsters through all these years was deeply enriched by the new participants who blended in the group seamlessly, bringing new inspiration and cultural enrichment to the group.

A cultural visit to the nearby cathedral of Chartres, bonfire, games and soccer matches gave the youngsters the opportunity to relax, recharge and enjoy the diversity of cultures, nationalities and languages of those present. The young participants were encourage to discover the diversity of cultures through international breakfasts, national country presentations and intercultural discussions.

The youth present held several project development sessions during the week to make their action for society more durable throughout the year.
To capture the spirit of the camp, the youth composed a song during the camp:

Life is a chance, take it
Life is Love, share it
Life is a hymn, sing it
Life is a dream, make it real
Life is a must, do it
Life is a challenge, face it
Life is beauty, admire it
Life is bliss, taste it
Life is precious, protect it
Life is a mystery, embrace it
Life is a promise, fulfill it
Life is a fight, accept it
When life gives a hard time, smile!
Life is happiness, embrace it
Life is beauty, admire it
Life is joy, celebrate it

— Dev

 

 

 

Save water for future generations

amma satsang11 May 2010, Amritapuri

It was the Tuesday before Amma’s North American tour and Amma had come to the Kali temple despite all other preparations. Before a tour, Amma meets with almost  all Ashramites personally, talks of their Seva and guide each one wishing them well in their best interests. So it was very exciting and special to see Amma come on this auspicious day to hand out lunch to one and all.

A questioner had asked Amma on how to save resources like water and other natural wealth within the Ashram and to make its use efficient so at least the Ashram could set an example.   Amma said she was so very happy hearing the question on water and natural preservation and that her children were thinking about it. Amma started telling all how precious natural resources were and how important it is to save them.

water drinkingAmma mentioned that she had been thinking about some ideas to be implemented at the Ashram for water preservation. She suggested having separate pumps in the toilet and using the sea-water or backwater for flushing and separate fresh water for the taps. Amma pointed out that this solution may be expensive to set up.

The questioner had suggested using a common arrangement for washing plates instead of each person cleaning their own which involved a lot of water waste. Amma mentioned that it was a good idea and clarified that the idea of using groups of people would cut down the water required to clean 45000 plates individually and  it may only require the quantity needed to clean 2000-3000 plates if plate-washing was done in organized groups.

Since water taps waste a lot of water when the force is high, one may use accessories that can make the water slower so less water is wasted. Many keep the tap open while brushing, shaving or washing. Amma said we need to be aware and to be patient.

save water for the future“While traveling in an airplane, the water tap actually trickles and one waits patiently to wash his hands or face, even if a billionaire or a businessman. Similarly in a community like here, one needs to be careful and aware.

In the past, water had to be brought from outside. Some days water was so scarce that one needed to dig holes in the ground to collect water for the day. In the past, there was a pond in front of the ashram. The pond was the only collection of freshwater for many houses including the then Ashram.

Also, in those days, for 1000 houses there was one water pipe, and it did not work most of the times. People complained to the Government and then after many complaints a wind powered water pump was set up. Even in those days there was a water tap across the waters in Vallickavu. When water had to be collected, Amma had to collect it from leaking underground pipe. Digging a hole around the leaking area on the ground, Amma had to to use a banana-leaf  to fill a bucket. So seeing leaking taps at roadsides during tour, it makes Amma feel restless and think whom she can call to fix it. Waste of water for Amma is like blood oozing out of her body. In many regions Amma has seen people walking long distances to fetch drinking water. Since she also has done so in the past, when Amma sees water waste, she knows the plight of water scarcity.

water5Water was such a dear commodity back then. Some villagers used to break the pipe to the Ashram so we would not get water. Still the fresh-water pond would give water. It was pure Grace that freshwater would be available there. Villagers would even jump into the pond to check if there was a broken pipe that retained the water pond. Water was that precious.

During the festival times, water for the Ashram had to be brought from across the backwaters with the help of a boat. The Swamis used to bring the water. The villagers were not very happy that the Ashram was using up their water and used to fight against it. Especially during festival days, every devotee needed at least a bucket of water. A Brahmachari used to sit on the tank and used to hand one bucket of water to each person. During one festival, he had been distributing water all day and was continuing his seva late night. Suddenly, one could not see him on the tank. He had fallen asleep and had fallen into the tank.  All laughed with Amma and she pointed out the brahmachari sitting in front of her.

The world is going through a tough situation. In the future, there might even be war to get access to water. If it is the problem of the future, we should also be concerned and responsible now. Suppose there is a fire in the ground floor of a block of flats and the person calls out for help, a person living on the tenth floor cannot remain idle saying “it is fire in someone else’s apartment, why should I bother?” Soon the fire may even spread to the tenth floor. Likewise, we are all responsible for what is happening and for what will happen.

save water for the futureIn Iceland, a recent volcano spew ash into the sky and because of that many flight services had to be grounded for days together. It was not Iceland alone; many countries got affected. Many people suffered due to that volcano: not only flights but food, business and many other industries came to a stand-still. If there had been one more volcano eruption like that, many companies would have gone bankrupt. In such cases one can’t say it is Iceland’s problem and leave it there. We are not isolated islands; we are like the links of the same chain. So each action we do affects the other.

The use of electricity is also a great concern. If there is a fan and light in say 3500 rooms, that is a lot of power. A resident can say “I pay for my electricity, so where is the problem?” As energy production needs valuable natural resources, it is also very important. Amma herself tries to save energy by sharing her accommodation.  Even in her room, four people stay so as to preserve space and resources. The car that Amma uses is not her’s but a devotee’s who lent it to her and wanted her to use it.

After the 2004 Tsunami, the Government made it difficult to construct more houses or rooms here on the Ashram land. When a request for permission for a 20-floor building was requested, the Government sanctioned only 2 floors. In such conditions, each resource becomes very valuable. So please take care to close water taps properly and switch off lights and fans when leaving the room. Leaving lights or water taps on, even by mistake, is like a thief stealing  our wealth. Amma likes the idea of building a pond to save rain water. She suggested some ideas and places where we can build ponds.

Amma is reminded of her childhood days. She had only two sets of school uniforms.  She received one on school opening day and the other one on Onam festival day. One way to get a new dress other than on those days was when a relative got married. Due to the acute water shortage the home clothes were washed once in a week. They used to boil the clothes in natural soda and then they would first clean it in sea-water and then rinse with fresh water. Such were those days. “Nowadays people use so much water. Times have changed.”save water for the future

Amma asked the ashram residents to take a bath just once a day. “If you are taking bath twice you should not stay here in the ashram,” she warned them.

Amma said that the Ashram belongs to the world. So one should have  awareness and responsibility.   Preservation of our natural resources should be one of our foremost duties.  The natural resources that we consume is the wealth that need to be transferred to coming generations. If we mindlessly exploit the resources, we won’t be able to leave anything for our grand children.

–Sakshi

GreenFriends towards greener society

GreenFriends representatives from several European countries met in the French Ashram, for an Easter retreat from 2 to 5 of April,  to launch GreenFriends (Europe), the informal network of all Embracing-the-World’s Green Initiatives in Europe.

The three-day retreat was a meeting to motivate, cultivate and develop newer ideas on Green initiatives for fostering the planet. On 2nd evening, few party games were organized as an ice-breaker to blend participants from various countries and cultures. The mornings on the next two days consisted of several workshops. People blended well with each other by doing common activities: building of the mandala garden for the ashram’s seed garden, bread cooking in the traditional wood oven, GrowIn workshops in the French ashram GrowIn space, making ecological plasters with lime, straw and clay, walking meditation in Nature, sharing experiences on the use of Effective Microorganisms, organic vegetable gardening amongst many more. A large party was organized on the last day evening that was more joy and less musings.

Several decisions were made and new commitments were setup as part of the meeting. On the evening of April 3rd,  11 selected projects from all over Europe were presented, as well as an UNESCO Initiative on education for sustainable living, that Embracing-the-World has started to promote as essential for green living. On the morning of April 5th, a large meeting enabled the participants to discuss the best way to work together in the future. GreenFriends (Europe) will start a European Volunteer Service Initiative in partnership with the European Commission and will use AVIEW, the video conference tool developed by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, for bimonthly e-meetings.

As satsang to all participants, Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya introduced the ecological issues that can be taken up by today’s youth. Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya emphasised the interest in today’s world to build ecological spiritual centers during her satsang. The French ashram has started building a network of ecological spiritual centers from different traditions.

The best time during the retreat was the inaugural puja for the new bee sanctuary. This project, known as BABEL, is an important project for the French ashram and had created motivational harmony amongst youth during its initial phase. This inauguration was a moment of sharing, full of joy, simplicity and grace. On the morning of April 5th, the first bee swarm was installed in the sanctuary.

The GreenFriends retreat concluded with many sharing the feeling of gratefulness. There was also an expressed desire from all participants towards a harmonious collaboration for a greener world.

Sprouting of GrowIn

italyOn the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (18th of April) AYUDH groups around the world connected via an internet web-cast to plant seeds together. Amma had blessed and inaugurated the GrowIn project on her last tour in EU and USA. {news} AYUDH community gardens have sprung up in USA, Germany, France, India and Australia.

As a second phase of the GrowIn project, AYUDH wanted to inspire individuals to grow their own vegetables at home. This new initiative as part of GrowIn was launched to create a feeling of togetherness amongst the “green-youth” and to provide them with professional guidance in setting up a small garden in their homes – on a balcony or a window shelf. Like the big tree that comes from a little seed, the open themes of the GrowIn range from green farming and agriculture to the many global issues such as those dealt with in the upcoming Milan Expo 2015.

People from many countries such as Germany, France, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Kenya took part in the webcast and highlighted the work on many different vegetables that they could grow in small spaces. Australian youth had also joined in the action by planting seeds on that day although web-casting was not possible due to time differences. Every participant had prepared little country-flags, which were placed into the freshly planted pots, so that it can be noticed in pictures online where each pot is from. It was decided that each group will take photos of their plants in regular intervals and upload them online. AYUDH Italy had even organized some seminar talks to the participants by some local experts on Energy conservation and Solar Energy and had planted several vegetables on a small balcony garden at a house beside a famous Lake near Milan.

The power to change

metro-treeOn the occasion of International Earth day on the 22nd of April, AYUDH members decided to stand up and do something in the society. They set plans to bring about a change first in themselves and then in the society, the change that will make our planet a better place to live in.

Ayudh Delhi celebrated Earth day by putting up stalls at two of the major centres in Delhi, one at Saket Select City Mall, one of the biggest and posh malls in Delhi and the other at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station, the busiest metro station in Delhi.

The concept was that the people had to liven up the Earth – depicted by a dry tree on the verge of death with the leaves of their ideas, ideas of how they can make a change to the environment and our Earth. They gave the visitors leaf shaped paper – on which they could write how they could bring about a difference and then put it up on this leafless tree.

mall-treeThe response at both centres was impressive. In the Metro station stall, the tree filled up with leaves in about 20 minutes! They then had to put overlapping leaves up on the tree. People from all walks of life…rich and poor, old and young thronged the installation to pin up their ideas to the tree. Those who came first, then brought their friends and relatives. The children had a gala time participating in the quiz contest organised for them. People were seen looking at what other people had written, certainly in order to know more of what they can do, in addition to what they had thought of. People pledged to follow what they were writing.

The success of their effort was in the fact that they were able to instantly influence a change in the attitude of people towards our planet – although many spoke passionately about how bad they felt at the situation of the planet and how helpless they felt in dealing with it. However they also said that AYUDH stall had helped them realise that there are many people out there sharing their concern and if each one is to do their part well, we could still save the Earth. Their despair had turned into hope and that they would be more cautious of what they do in future.

The Earth day celebrations concluded reminding that there is still lots more to do that needs to be done.

– Dass

AYUDH plants 500 trees at Amrita Watoto Boma

25 Oct 2009, Nairobi, Kenya

AYUDH Kenya participated in the 350 movement on Saturday 24th October 2009. This day marked a milestone towards fighting against climate change as people from all over the world united with a common goal to be heard and try and save the planet. (http://www.350.org/)

AYUDH’s contribution was through organizing a tree planting event at the Amrita Watoto Boma (Children’s home) located by the Athi River in Nairobi. A total of 50 youth took part in the event and managed digging the ground and planting 500 trees during the course of the day. There were also 3 campaigners for the 350 movement from Denmark present for the event.

The day started with a short talk by Br. Shantamrita on how man depends on Mother Nature and the need to contribute towards preserving Mother Nature.  There was a lot of enthusiasm amongst the youth who managed to finish planting 500 trees in the morning alone. This was the target intended for the entire day. There were a lot of innovative methods of teamwork on display as well, particularly whilst watering the trees. Only one water tank was available, which was pretty far away and all the participants formed a chain to transport the water to the trees.

After lunch and a small singing session, the youth gathered for the final activity, which was to create a small garden next to one of the children’s dorms. This was the most challenging activity of the day and it concluded at 3:30 pm.

The event ended on a very positive note with each person adopting at least one tree, showing their commitment towards ensuring that they would come back for another event and to make sure that the trees planted would also grow healthy. A round of ultimate Frisbee concluded the day. It was a fun-filled event for all who took part.
As the children’s center is nearing completion and the kids are about to move into their new home, AYUDH dedicated this day to create a more welcoming and beautiful surrounding for the children and at the same time contributed to the protection of Mother Nature.

Amma in Paris

Paris, France, 25th – 27th October 2009

Amma’s program was attended by an endless crowd. People from all over France lined up outside as long as to the street corner almost 1 km away.

AYUDH, the youth wing presented the amazing ecological project called Babel that started in Amma’s French ashram in Pontqouin about 1 hour away from Paris city.

Welcoming Amma to France they said: “We are very happy to present the Babel project, which is inspired by Amma. It is a GreenFriends initiative, we want to build a sanctuary for the bees .”

Bee farming by Green friends

Bee farming by GreenFriends

West Cork, Ireland

The GreenFriends members in Ireland started bee farming. A devotee has provided space on her land for organic growing.

On ‘Bee Day’ 2009, Greenfriends Ireland beekeeper gave a practical course, including a visit to some hives and detailed presentations. The course was held in a house made of natural building materials, like straw and clay.

The Bee Day participants were keen as the beekeeper explains how the honeycomb is divided into areas of storage and breeding. The hive entrance designed as a very narrow gap to prevent others from stealing honey. A new double-sided plastic sheet known as ‘a foundation’ ensures that the hexagonal cells fit the dimensions of the hive. Individual wax combs were used to make honey extraction simpler; no need to destroy the colony’s hive, the method once used in beekeeping.

A healthy hive contains about 60,000 bees. A wild hive is known as a bees’ nest; to make one, bees use their hanging bodies as scaffolding. In manufactured hives, the upper part stores honey, the lower the brood and queen. In a natural beehive space, cells face outwards which explains the sheltered location under the eaves of the building or a tree.

Through these classes the participants were motivated to take up bee farming seriously and scientifically.