onam prasad

Onam celebrations at Amritapuri 2015

28 Aug 2015, Amritapuri – Onam Celebrations

Every year Onam is a time for great celebration here in Amritapuri and this year was no exception. Early in the morning the hall was full of people in anticipation for the day’s festivities. They didnt have to wait long as Amma arrived on the stage before 10am and gave her Onam message to a packed crowd.

Speaking to the assembled devotees Amma said “All of us are experiencing our own little pains and sorrows in life. Nevertheless, amidst all these, we still usher in Onam with joy. How is it possible? Happiness is a decision. If we so decide, we can create an empire of happiness. This is because happiness is our true nature. The lamp of happiness is ever aflame in our hearts. We must take care not to block this light with the closed curtain of our desires.” {read more}

At the of her talk Amma lead the hall through a joyous rendition of Bandalo Bandalo and asked everyone to clap their hands with those around them.

Then Amma served a special onasadya meal to all the thousands of people in the ashram which took several hours. All ate in the hall together as one big family…even the biggest of ashram resident. As it has become a yearly tradition, Amma served Lakshmi the elephant the large portion of Onam prasad.

Later in the evening after bhajans, Amma came back to the hall to participate in the cultural programs. A huge variety of performances delighted the hall performed by ashram children, residents, westerners and brahmacharis. All finally reached a crescendo when around midnight Amma led everyone in singing – La Le Lale La Le. The whole hall was cheering, singing, and swaying with the music to bring an end to amazing day.

-Kannadi

Family Camp at the Amma Center, Switzerland

On a weekend in June, over twenty children and teenagers participated in the Family Camp 2013 of the Swiss Amma Center in Flaach.

The theme of the camp was “Man and Nature in Harmony” with a special emphasis on water.

The children and teenagers participated, according to their age, in different workshops centered on the five virtues: Truth, Peace, Love, Non-Violence and Right Action.

The two following days started with the Amrita-Yoga and IAM Meditation.

One of the many highlights of the weekend was the wonderful guided tour through the nature sanctuary “Thurauen” on Sunday morning, where everybody learned about the animals in the water and also had a lot of fun making their own boats made from materials found at the sanctuary: wood, reeds, etc.

In the afternoon there were theatre and painting workshops, an IAM Refresher course and games for the small children. The day ended a huge bonfire and the sending small hot air balloons into the moonlit night sky while everybody chanted “Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”.

On Monday the retreat came to an end with the children each promising to do one good deed a day, as well as with dancing and singing together and presenting the theatre scenes all children had prepared. During the whole camp the children also had bhajan class and led their own bhajan sessions each evening.

It was a wonderful weekend, where learning and fun were closely linked and where surely every child or teenager could return home with precious experiences in his heart.

Aerial photography of Amrita Institutions

An Aerial view of Amrita Institutions: Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences;  Amrita University Healthcare Campus, Kochi;  Amrita University Campus Coimbatore; Amrita university Campus Amritapuri and Amritapuri Ashram.

 

These pics are taken by Nikolas using kite aerial photography. Using a kite, camera is lifted up in the air, with wireless controls one position the camera and the pictures are taken from the ground by a remote control.

Amma in Triruvananthapuram

23-24 April, Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2013

When Amma arrived at her Brahmasthanam and Ashram in Kaimanam, Thiruvananthapuram on the evening of the 22nd April, lamps had been lit all along the roadside leading to the ashram, creating a welcoming and beautiful path for Amma.

Amma addressing the gathering

Upon arrival, Amma served Prasad to the devotees and conversed with them.
The following day, on the first morning of Amma’s programmes, Amma was presented with the first-ever Vishwaretna Award by the Maharaja of Travancore, on behalf of the Hindu Parliament. Presenting the award, to overwhelming applause the head of Travancore’s royal family indicated that this was one of the most fulfilling moments of his life.
After the award ceremony, Kerala’s Minister for Agriculture K.P. Mohanan presented organic seeds and fertilizers to 500 people as part of M.A. Math’s new Haritamritam program, aimed at encouraging households around the state of Kerala to take up organic gardening and organic farming, thereby promoting health and vitality as well as a renewed appreciation and reverence for nature.

During the program, Assembly Speaker G. Karthikeyan said that Amma was a refuge to the world suffering from all ills.

The devotees were largely sheltered from the blazing summer sun as Amma took care to make sure that shelters were erected throughout the ashram, creating nearly unbroken shade for all her children.
Addressing the devotees, Amma emphasized the need for protecting environment. She exhorted the authorities to restart the ‘Sevanavaaram,’ a week-long cleaning programme taken up by schoolchildren.

distribution of seeds for organic farming

“Nature, which once blessed us with resources, is now in a state of devastation. We have destroyed our nature by 40 per cent within a span of 25 years,” she said.
On the last day, Amma sang bhajan ‘Elappula Elo’ with her children. The ladies dressed in silk sari danced beautifully to the tune  of Amma. “It was like so many  Devis’ (goddesses) dancing. You all danced naturally in union. It was very good” said Amma on the mike about the dance. The darshan came to a close after 3:00 in the morning, bringing Amma’s 2013 South Indian Yatra to a joyful, sweet denouement.

– Tulasi

Vishwaretna puraskar presented to Amma by Hindu Parliament

23 April, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2013

During Amma’s visit to her ashram in Kaimanam, Thiruvananthapuram, Shri Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the Maharaja of Travancore and head of the Travancore royal family, presented Amma with the first-ever Vishwaretna Puraskar (Gem of the World Award), bestowed by newly constituted Hindu Parliament.

Viswaretna puraskar

Several officials of the Parliament were on hand to share their reflections in giving the award. The stage was also populated with a wide-ranging constellation of government officials and other dignitaries, including Assembly Speaker G Karthikeyan, Health Minister VS Sivakumar, Sri Ramakrishna Math (Trivandrum) President Swami Lokahitananda, SNDP General Secretary Vellappilly Nateshan and many representatives from different social organizations around the state.

Hindu Parliament General Secretary EP Sugatan explained, “The Hindu Parliament is a congregation of 108 organisations of different strata of the society. Our aim is to initiate a new renaissance in Kerala in the light of Amma’s life and teaching. Amma doesn’t need any award. God doesn’t need an award. By giving the award, in fact it is we who are honoured. The need of society now is brotherhood, love and spirituality. This movement aims to take steps in the light of spirituality. Just by going to the temple, one cannot become spiritual—this we have realized. With Amma’s blessing, the Hindu Parliament wants to go forward, taking all the strata of the society, all lower and upper castes, bringing all along for the renaissance.”

Hindu Parliament President Shankaran Kutty Nair said, “Hindus believe that Vishnu is sustainer of the world. Here in front of us is an incarnation who preserves and sustains individuals in their day-to-day life. Whomsoever comes for a job, for a house, to cure a disease … Amma is the only answer; not the government. She has been active for the last 36 years, providing anything and everything for the society—we can’t measure it all. Providing relief to the common man, who with loneliness, mental problems, other problems, approaches Amma to get satisfaction. This is the justification for presenting the Vishwaratna Puraskar to Amma.”

the Maharaj and Amma

And in presenting Amma with the award, the head of Travancore’s royal family Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma offered only the highest praise for Amma. “Amma is trying to show the path for us to go in dharma, to go in peace. She is showing us the path for our action, for our mind, and in the soul. In trying to talk about her compassion, I am speechless. This small offering (the award), Amma has accepted. I have not received more joy, happiness and peace than this before. Whatever we hear from Amma here today should not go in one ear and out the other, but go into our head, and into our heart. We should meditate on it, accepting Amma’s thoughts, becoming Amma’s disciples and servants. Let us strive to take Bharat (India) forward and forward. I am praying to Amma in this way.”

After being offered the award, Amma bowed in front of the award trophy. Swami Amritaswarupananda spoke on behalf of Amma, saying, “Amma offers this award to her children.”

– Sakshi

Amma in Kannyakumari

21 April, Kannya Kumari – Bharata Yatra 2013

On Amma’s fourth visit to Kanyakumari (India’s southern cape), her public program was held on the grounds on the recently completed Amrita Vidyalayam. This expansive, beautiful school joins the constellation of Amma’s 56 primary and secondary schools throughout India dedicated to inculcating timeless spiritual values in India’s youth while imparting a top-class academic education – education for living, and education for life.

devotees who came to attend Amma's program

Swami Jagadeeswarananda of Sivananda Ashram, Vivekananda Kendra Vice President Nivedita as well as MLA Pon Radhakrishnanan, Swami Chaitanyananda of Vellimalai Ashram, the District Magistrate and others shared the dais with Amma.

In his remarks, Swami Chaitanyananda said, “Out of compassion, Amma travels around the world, blessing all of us.

Mata ca parvati devi
pita devo maheswara
bandhava shiva bhakta ca
swadesho bhuvanatrayam.

(“Parvati is the Mother, Shiva is the father, the relatives are Shiva’s devotees, the native place is all the three worlds”). I am remembering this sloka by Shankaracharya. When I studied that I realised that it will be possible only if you live in the highest plane of consciousness. Now as Parvati Devi, Amma has come bless all of us.
happy darshan
MLA Pon Radhakrishnan shared, “30 years ago, my father met Amma in a function. People were coming to her and get blessings. At that time I thought egoistically, ‘Why we should get the blessings of a human being?’ Two years later I was introduced to Amma. When I met her I was crying and crying. Amma asked me why. ‘Amma, please protect the children of Kanyakumari’ is the alms that I begged.”

Amma answered his prayer, proceeding to embrace the children of Kanyakumari one by one. Despite the massive size of the crowd, the assembled devotees were remarkably peaceful – as if they knew that Kanyakumari herself was among them — having reached her, they were in no rush to go anywhere. They listened closely to her satsang and bhajans, and waited patiently to receive her darshan all through the night.

Her darshan went on until 9:30 am the following morning.

– Kannadi

Amma will sleep when you have all awakened

18-19 April, Chennai – Bharata Yatra 2013

On arrival in Chennai, Amma continued the tradition of the tour, serving Prasad to the assembled devotees, as well as sharing jokes, spiritual stories, and practical advice with them. To the delight of the devotees, Amma made several comments in their mother tongue of Tamil as well.

One devotee asked Amma, “Whenever I come to the ashram, you are sitting like this amongst your devotees, smiling and giving darshan. Amma, when do you sleep?”

Amma replied simply, “When you have all awakened, Amma will sleep.”

Continuing a second tradition that has unfolded on this tour, Amma gave many practical instructions to the brahmacharis in charge on how to make adjustments to the programme venue in order to accommodate more devotees and make them more comfortable. In the case of the Chennai ashram, an old bookstall structure was demolished over night in order to make space for more of Amma’s children to sit in the shade and participate in her programme.

During Amma’s programmes in Chennai, His Excellency the Governor of Nagaland, Dr Ashwini Kumar met Amma and participated at the 23rd Annual celebrations of the Chennai Brahmasthanam.

Speaking on the occasion, he said, “This is a very special day for two reasons- firstly today is Ramanavami and we are very lucky have Amma’s darshan. Secondly my wife and I have had the good fortune to garland Amma on your behalf and present a shawl on behalf of the people of Nagaland. It was many years ago, that I had first read about the charitable work being done by her. Two decades later I have had the good fortune to meet her today. The enormous charitable work done by Amma is appreciated world over. It was rightly said by the noble laureate Mohammed Yunus that Amma has done more work than many governments have ever done for their people. Her contribution is enormous.”

Various renowned Karnatic musicians like   Dr R Ganeshan, Mahesh Vinayakram, Neyveli Santhana Gopalan, Malgudi Subha Umayalapuram Sivaraman (Mridamgam), Lalgudi GJR Krishnan (Violin),  N Ravikran (Chitra Veena), Uma Shankar and team (Ghatam), Anuradha Sriram & Sriram Parashuram (Hindusthani calassical), Udayalur Kalyanaraman (Sampradhaya bhajan) performed for Amma as she gave darshan.

“It is believed that Nandikesha plays Mridangam in front of Lord Shiva and Parvati. I feel like the same when I play in front of Parashakti, our Amma. I would like to come and play for Amma’s 60th Birthday. Amma, please bless my family and my art and all of us” said Umalaylpuram Shivaraman on the mike after his 30 minute performance on Mridangam.

During the two-day celebrations Amma gave darshan to countless people who gathered despite the sweltering heat in Chennai. For nearly 48 hours continuously, the Chennai ashram was packed to overflowing with Amma’s children who patiently bore the crowds and the heat in order to enjoy a few moments in her arms and imbibe her divine energy. Amma’s children know the secret to true happiness, as taught by Amma – air-condition the mind, taking refuge in the shade of Amma’s blissful presence.

Darshan ended after 5:00 in the morning as Amma concluded her darshan by singing joyfully amidst her children.

– Kannadi

Amma in Puducherry

15 April, Puducherry, Bharata Yatra 2013

En route to Puducherry, Amma had stopped by the road to gather with the tour group. As the 14th of April was Vishu, the New Year according to the calendar of Kerala, Amma wanted members of the group to share their perspective on the meaning and importance of Vishu and its associated traditions. Specially mentioned was the tradition of the parents ensuring that the children’s first sight when they open their eyes that morning is an image of Lord Krishna along with different fruits and vegetables. Next to the image of the lord will be placed a mirror, symbolizing the fundamental principle of Sanatana Dharma that the Creator and creation are one and the same – that God dwells within each of us.

This was Amma’s third visit to Puducherry. She was returning after four years, and the throngs of devotees gathered hours before her arrival, eager to welcome her back. Less than 500 square kilometers in size, Puducherry is also home to a large number of French expatriates. As such there were many French people and other foreigners among the devotees who came for Amma’s darshan.

Near the sea, the relatively cooler climate was also a breath of fresh air for the tour group after the blistering heat of Madurai.

As part of the programme, Amma expanded the Amrita Nidhi pension project to benefit widows, the differently abled and others living in poverty in Puducherry. For them and all the devotees gathered for Amma’s programme, it was an auspicious start to the New Year indeed.

The darshan finally ended after 8:00 am the next day, and Amma and the tour group moved on to Chennai.

– Kannadi

Amma in Kodungallur

18 February, Kodungallur, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2013

For the final stop on the 2013 Indian tour, Amma made her 25th visit to her ashram in Kodungallur.  This is the site of Amma’s first Brahmasthanam temple and before beginning her darshan, Amma made a special announcement on the mic briefly explaining the history behind it all.  She explained how the previous family who owned the land approached Amma and offered it to her and requested her to build a temple on the site. They told Amma how for countless years the land was the starting place for the annual procession leading to the local Devi Temple. And after their insistence Amma accepted the land and in 1987 the first Brahmasthanam Pratistha was performed.  Amma then said that it was the love of her children that has drawn her back there so many times since then.

Throughout the day, students and teachers of Amrita Vidyalayam presented different dances to Amma to celebrate the occasion.

Before darshan started, Amma distributed pensions as part of the Amrita Nidhi program and seeds to cultivate organic farming.  Additionally participants of Amrita Sree groups were given working capital.

At the end of darshan Amma sang Tanana Tanana and Mayaji while everyone danced, completely rocking the hall, while it was pouring rain.  It was 6.45 in the morning by the time Amma finally left the stage, and travelled back to Amritapuri to conclude the tour.

-Kannadi

Amma in Talassery

13 Feb, Talassery, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2013

On 12th February, when Amma reached the Talassery ashram, she was welcomed by devotees, eagerly waiting to catch a glimpse of her, before next day’s programs. The scenes of her arrival and the love of the devotees was very touching to witness as always. Amma slowly made her way to her room surrounded by the crowd of adoring hearts.

Few moments later she emerged out and went straight to the roof where she had invited all the devotees and the tour group for a dinner/bhajan time. Plates were passed around by Amma, while she was simultaneously giving directions to create space for everyone to fit in the place. After dinner, Amma sang bhajans, then she asked for ashramites to tell jokes and make everyone enjoy a moment of laughter and lightness.

It was passed 10pm when this memorable and precious time took end, with Amma commenting on various practical spiritual topics. As Amma headed for her room, everyone left the roof with happy and fulfilled faces and hearts.

Next day morning, Amma came to the stage around 11am. An Indian Olympian athlete PT Usha and R Arunachalam, Mahe State Administrator, were invited to the stage, as Amma distributed Amrita Nidhi pensions. Seeds to cultivate organic farming were also distributed to devotees.
Amma lead a beautiful bhajan session, followed by a satsang, meditation and prayers. Darshan went on throughout the afternoon, evening and passed midnight, ending around 3.30 am.

The children from Amrita Vidyalayam offered many dancing performances.

-Kannadi