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Dancing with Sri Krishna once again, Rasa Leela in Vrindavan

7 April, Vrindavan, Uttara Pradesh – Bharata Yatra 2016
As if to make up for lost time, Amma’s first visit to Vrindavan in nearly 30 years was packed with activities and events for both Amma and the tour group. Immediately on arrival on Thursday, Amma was taken directly to a sacred body of water known as the Brahma Kund. With shobayatra – nama-smkeertan and folk art forms in a procession – Amma was welcomed to Brahma Kund where she had been invited to bless the spot and to view an ancient form of folk art known as Sanjhi*, started by Radha Rani.

Amma being dressed up as Banke Bihari (Sri Krishna) by the devotees

Many of the residents of Amritapuri ashram who had not been able to join Amma’s full Bharata Yatra made the pilgrimage to Vrindavan to be there with Amma, so one really had the feeling that all of Amritapuri had been temporarily transported to Vrindavan.

That evening, to the delight of all, a special Rasa Lila performance was staged in Amma’s honour, re-enacting scenes from the early life of Sri Krishna. The enchanting performance included a re-enactment of the young Sri Krishna mischievously stealing butter from the gopis, in the process stealing their hearts and leading them on the first steps of their journey toward the pinnacle of devotion. The witty and wise dialogues and heartful rendition of the music transported all into a different realm of experience.

The artists of the play are not professional, but ordinary people. The people of Vrindavan believe that, during the time of the play, they are the real Radha and Krisha. They feed Krishna and do arati and take prasad from him. For them this is Krishna in flesh and blood.

Introducing the importance of this tradition, Vineet Narayan, host and Chairman of the Braj Foundation narrated a story of two sanyasis from Varanasi who follow the path of Knowledge. The junior sannyasi came to explore Vrindavan despite senior sanyasi’s resistance. Here he got immersed in bhakti and started enjoying the chanting of Radhe Radhe, begging bread from homes irrespective of their caste and watching Raasleela being performed.  6 months passed. The senior in anxiety also came to Vrindavan to look for his junior and was shocked to see how he had fallen from his strict Vedic practices. The senior scolded the junior, admonishing him that his duty is to follow Vedic principles and not indulge in emotions of bhakti.  The junior sanyasi explained the transcendental mood of people of Vraj, but the senior was unmoved. However he did agree to attend a Raasleela performance, where he sat in the back row along with the junior sanyasi. During the performance, he whispered in the ear of the junior, “If that is the real Krishna up there on the stage, he will come down and give me his garland.” Whereupon the Krishna on the stage did indeed come down from the stage, walk all the way through the crowd, and place his garland on the neck of the senior sanyasi. Still not convinced, that night in his chambers the senior sanyasi thought to himself, ‘I must have whispered too loudly and he heard me from the stage. If it is really Krishna there on the stage, tomorrow night he will give me his betel leaf when it is offered to him.’ The next evening, when the curtains were closed for a set change, suddenly Krishna emerged from behind the curtain, again made his through the crowd to the sanyasi, and proclaimed loudly for all to hear, “This greedy fellow – it was not enough to get my garland. Now he wants my betel leaf as well!” Whereupon the senior sanyasi was also overcome with devotion for Sri Krishna and finally understood the junior sanyasi’s feelings. This story is just one such example of countless miracles people have seen performed by Krishna on the stage – and that is why it is said that the Raasleela being performed in Vraj is not merely a folk theatre but Krishna, Radha, Gopis and Gopas all descending into the young people enacting these plays on the stage.

At Brahma Kund

After the performance was offered to Amma, little Krishna came down off the stage and sat in Amma’s lap, resting his head against her cheek in a touching sight that was rendered all the more significant by the fact that it was unfolding in the very place where Krishna’s childhood leelas happened so many centuries ago.

Speaking on the occassion, Amma related a beautiful incident from the time of the gopis: Once an astrologer visited Vrindavan. He asked the birth date of Gopis whom he met there. Every one gave the same date — only the birth time was different. Gopis of all ages – young and aged – all reported having the same birthdate. He could not believe it. When he asked why everyone has the same birthday, they explained that that was the day when they met Sri Krishna when he came to Vrindavan. Only the birth time was different, because they met him at different times throughout the day.

Amma then sang two Krishna bhajans, and finally asked everyone to stand up and dance. As each of the several hundred devotees present closed their eyes and danced, each one imagining they were dancing with Amma, one couldn’t help but feel that all these many years later, the Rasaleela was once again unfolding in the holy land of Vrindavan.

– Kannadi

 

===
* Sanjhi art
Pitra Paksh is the fortnight period when Hindus remember their departed family members and offer special prayers for them. In such a gloomy atmosphere, no entertainment is encouraged.

However to please Krishna, Radha Rani and her friends decided to decorate the path of Krishna returning in the evening after grazing the cows. They used colored powder, flower petals, cow dung, grains, lentils, dry and fresh fruits and seashells etc. as raw material and everyday created patterns on the floor or water surface to please Krishna.

Since this was done in the evening (Sandhya), it is called Sanjhi art. This Folk art was lost for centuries after Krishna’s time. But in the 1770s, it was revived by a saint, who was a former king from Rajasthan. He started a Sanjhi Mela at the Brahma Kund in Vrindavan.

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Qawwali of Delhi

4-5 April, New Delhi – Bharata Yatra 2016

At the beginning of her two days of programs at her ashram in Delhi, Amma was welcomed to Delhi by Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister for Culture and Tourism. As part of the opening day ceremony, Amma gave away the keys to six homes newly constructed for people in Himachal Pradesh who had been living without adequate shelter. The new homeowners were onstage to personally receive the keys from Amma. Amma also gave 51 saplings to villagers from Uttarakhand and Jammu Kashmir, hailing from villages adopted under the Amrita SeRVe project.

Amma held two days of public program – satsang, bhajan, meditation and darshan – in the Delhi Brahmasthanam festival. During Amma’s darshan, enchanting cultural performances were offered to Amma by villagers from Jammu Kashmir, tribal children from Kalahandi, Orissa, and by the children of Amrita Vidyalayam-Delhi.

Amma also received a warm welcome to Delhi by Swamis of the Yogada Satsang Society, and by Nizami Bhandu, acclaimed Qawwal from the Dargah of the legendary Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, who brought gifts and sang for Amma in a touching interfaith gesture. Amma really enjoyed Qawwali and the hall was on their toes singing and clapping to the lines “Amma ji Amma ji Amma jiii…. ” Literally they were rocking the darshan hall.

During Amma’s visit to Delhi this week, Amma also met several political leaders, including BJP President Amit Shah; Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar; Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley; Venkaih Naidu, Union Minister for Urban Development; Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women’s and Children’s Welfare and many Government IAS officers.

-Kannadi

 

 

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What is Her plan, no one knows

31 March, Kishangargh, Rajasthan – Bharata Yatra 2016

The trip from Amdavad to Jaipur was very arduous as it traversed kilometer after kilometer of an extremely hot and desolate landscape. Amma and the group left before dawn but as soon as the sun rose, it was impossible to escape its scorching rays, with temperatures passing 38 degrees C (100 F) all day.

Before the trip Amma expressed her desire to stop and have lunch somewhere with the group along the way, but due to some miscommunication, the vehicles in the tour caravan got split up and took different routes. Both were travelling on parallel roads to the Jaipur. When it was lunch time, Amma and the tour group were very far from each other and it wasn’t until 4pm that everyone was reunited on the road just after Krishanghard!

The next challenge was trying to find a place in the shade for everyone to stop and eat and get some relief from the heat. A small dhaba (roadside eatery) that had clearly seen better days, was selected because it had a small veranda, a garden and some grass where everyone could squeeze in to the shade and have lunch with Amma.

The owner of this establishment and her family were overjoyed to welcome Amma and the group, and let everyone use their place for the picnic; until this point she had only seen Amma on television.

After Amma served food to everyone, had a Q & A session and sang bhajans, the lady who owned the dhaba wanted to speak a few words. She took the microphone and shared her personal story of how her restaurant had once served award winning food and been a thriving business, but that recently it had fallen on hard times. First her husband passed away, and they had to close down for three years. Just three months ago she decided to start it back up again, but it was not doing good. That morning her son tried to reason with her that they should give up on the business and sell it, but she wanted to keep trying to make it work. Finally after her children’s persistence she said she would agree to shut it down unless she received a sign to keep it open…and now after Amma’s visit she knew it was the sign she was waiting for and was thrilled Amma had asked to stop there with the tour group and bless the place. Before Amma left, she invited Amma to come inside the hotel, which Amma obliged and blessed her.

All were very touched to hear her share her personal story with tears in her eyes and see how even though they may have suffered in the journey’s heat waiting to have their picnic, it ended up being in the perfect place at the perfect time.

-Kannadi

 

 

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Walking form of God: Amma in Jaipur

1 April, Jaipur, Rajasthan – Bharata Yatra 2016

After her program in Amdavad, Amma held a one day public program at the Tagore School Grounds in Jaipur. It was Amma’s first visit to the city since 2011 and a second time at the same grounds.
During darshan many were requesting Amma to come back every year and soon start an ashram center here.

Harirampur is one of the villages where MAM has also supplied potable water {news}. The head of the village came with his wife to thank Amma for all she has done for them. When they approached Amma they very humbly sat down in front of Amma as they would do in their village home, with so much innocence (and cuteness). Amma was very touched by their humility.

Harirampur villagers thanking Amma

Upon her arrival to the city, Amma visited the same house that hosted her on her previous visit. That time in 2006, Amma’s visit coincided with Holi and the family was blessed to play Holi with Amma in their own home {news}. Remembering that first Holi celebration with Amma, they again welcomed with festive Holi songs and showering flower petals, while singing ‘Holi! Holi!..’

During her visit to the city, a man was brought to Amma for darshan by his mother. The man has been suffering from liver cancer for the past two and a half years. His cancer had now progressed to the last stage and his leg had become extremely swollen. His mother was was overcome with grief sharing their plight with Amma and humbly requesting Amma’s blessings for her son.

The following evening Amma was welcomed to the stage by PP Choudhary, Member of Parliament, who said, “Amma is a walking form of God.”

Amma giving saplings to Harirampur villagers

Amma distributed saplings to villagers of Harirampur as part of the AmritaServe. The villagers also brought Amma seeds and grains that they have grown organically in their village.

Amma then addressed the crowd and delivered her satsang which was translated into Hindi. Amma also sang bhajans in Marwadi and led a guided meditation and manasa puja in Hindi before giving darshan to everyone that came. For both satsang and bhajans people were listening very attentively and clapping enthusiastically.
After darshan ended early the following morning, Amma and the tour group travelled to Delhi for the next stop on the tour.

-Kannadi

 

 

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Celebration continues: Amma in Amdavad

29 March, Ahmedabad, Gujarat – Bharata Yatra 2016

Amma held an evening program at the Ahmedabad Education Society Ground.
Several local dignitaries were on hand to welcome Amma to Gujarat including: Minister for Transport, Water Resources, Labour Employment Vijay Ramaiklal Rupani; Dharmendra Bhavani, Central Secretary VHP; Raman B Padiyar Head of VHP S.Gujarat; Manas Shankar Ray, Principal Commissioner, Income Tax; RS Sodhi, MD of AMUL; and Rajnikant Mohanlal Patel, MLA.

When Amma stopped for an evening bhajans and dinner enroute to Amdavad

The villagers of Nani Borvai, one of the villages adopted under AmritaSeRVe project, were given saplings promoting the planting of more trees in the villages. They also brought organic vegetables they grew in their village to give to Amma. Many of them were in tears as they were meeting Amma personally for the first time.

Amma gave satsang, sang bhajans and led everyone in guided meditation. She also instructed everyone in the Manasa Puja in the local language of Gujarati as well as singing many bhajans as well in the local tongue.

Throughout the night, local Amrita Vidyalayam children presented different cultural programs throughout the night.

Amongst the thousands who came for Amma’s darshan, there were a few new people who were shedding tears, overcome with emotion upon meeting Amma for the fist time. They told Amma they just need devotion and dispassion. A few of them even asked Amma to be their guru and received a mantra from her.

The darshan came to an end at 7.37 am the next day morning.

Nani Borvai villagers with organic products

Before the departure to the next city for the program, Amma and the group spent a day in the garden at the Amrita Vidyalayam campus. Once the scorching sun set, Amma came and sat on the grass with everyone, where she distributed dinner prasad, sang bhajans and held a Q & A session. At the end, Amma sang a joyous Gujarati song, which brought almost everyone to their feet and all began to dance in joy.

Amma continues to shower joy and make a celebration wherever she goes… and the journey continues now to the next city – Jaipur.

– Kannadi

 

 

 

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Joyous celebrations: Amma in Mumbai

26-27 March, Mumbai, Maharashtra – BharataYatra 2016

Amma came to Mumbai a few hours after celebrating Holi in Pune. Since its only a short drive from Pune to Mumbai and technically it was still Holi upon her arrival, Amma fulfilled the wishes of all the Mumbai devotees by playing Holi with them as well. After serving dinner to everyone, Amma sang a rocking new Holi song, ‘Holi Ye Ayi Rangoon’ that had the whole hall jumping. When the song reached its crescendo, everyone was chanting ‘Radhe Radhe Radhe!’ and all were swaying and dancing, lost in the spirit of love. Amma took everyone to a different realm. Then when the song ended she began to spray colored water and throw colored powder all around. Devotees were cheering and laughing as they got to play Holi with their krishna, surely making it the most memorable Holi for everyone present. For those traveling with Amma, they were amazed at their good fortune to get to play Holi twice with Amma in the same day!

Over the following two days, Amma conducted her normal Brahmastham programs of satsang, bhajans and darshan. During these days, so many dignitaries came to meet Amma while she was in the city, including: The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Phadnavis; Minister of heavy industries Anant Geete; Political leader Raj Thackeray several Judges of the Mumbai High Court; Bollywood actress Shriya Saran; Sudha Chandran; Navya Nayar film director Anjali Menon; and Singer Udit Narayan.

Sudhakar S Sonawane, the Mayor Navi Mumbai welcomed Amma officially to the stage and appreciated her effort in serving humanity. He mentioned that in every field: construction of free houses, education for poor, medical assistance to the needy, disaster relief, etc. Amma’s contributions are of a very high standard and that no government organization is able to provide such high standard facilities.

Mandatai Mhatre, MLA Belapur,  requested everyone present at the program to contribute their might and work for few hours each week with Amma in her endeavor of serving needy to make India a great country.

Vidya Thakur, Minister for Women & Child Welfare requested Amma to help to tackle problems in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha & Latur regions which were recently affected by severe draught. She also requested Amma to empower women in these regions.

Sanjay Kulkarni, Vice Chancellor of Mumbai University which is a 158 year old institution, told the audience that he was very much impressed with the achievements of Amrita University and its influence in the international arena, even though it is only 13 years old. He expressed his interest to work with Amrita University in specific areas which will help the humanity.

Amma gave 200 tree saplings to the villagers of Ransai which is one of the 101 villages adopted by MAM under AmritaSerVe project. Amma gave three keys of the houses built for the villagers and also distributed sarees to hundreds of villagers from Ransai. Upon receiving these gifts from Amma, they said, “We the villagers of Ransai are so grateful. Earlier there was no one for us. Now we know that we can go to Amma if we face problems. There have been so many changes in our lives after Amma adopted our village. Amma, you want us to become self-reliant. We promise you Amma that we will do our best.”

Finally when the last program ended early in the morning, the day after Amma came to the stage for darshan, Amma sang a new Punjabi bhajan. She brought an end to the Mumbai programs, the same way it all began when Amma arrived, with a joyous celebration.

– Kannadi

 

 

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Paint your body and mind with colours of Love

21-22 March, Pune – BharataYatra 2016

After a very long ride from Hyderabad, Amma was welcomed by devotees when she reached Pune at 5:30am in the early morning.

Over the next two days, Amma held two days program at the Pune ashram where she was welcomed by Padmashree Vijay Bhatkar, who said, “To see how God walks, how he talks, how he looks, how he blesses, God’s attributes, all of it we are able to experience on a physical level when we come to Amma. And so we call Amma “Jagadamba.” We are very fortunate to have Amma’s darshan and embrace. I consider myself to very fortunate to get an embrace from God Herself.”

Amma’s satsang was translated into Marathi and Amma lead the Manasa Puja and meditation in Hindi. Amma also sang bhajans each day and sat all day until late night giving darshan to everyone.

During darshan, Amrita Vidyalayam students presented different cultural programs. Several well known local performers came to share their talents including, Nanda Kishore who did a Kathak dance, Rajkumar Barsjikar sang bhajans, and Sambaji Shinde presented a Gondel (traditional Maharashrta folk bhajans usually sung only in Devi temples)

At the end of darshan on the second day, Amma was dressed up as Saint Jnaneswar by a family of devotees. Another family, dressed as Gopis, proceeded to dress up Amma as Sri Krishna and brought curd in mud pot and invited Amma to break the pot and distribute the curd. The festive mood on in the hall reached a climax when the last family came for darshan brought color powders for Holi. Someone smeared some colors on Amma’s face, and then she was given water balloons. Amma delighted everyone when she started throwing the balloons at all the devotees crowded around her and everyone burst into laughter as the balloons broke and doused them with colored water. Next Amma started spraying water with a water pistol on all around her.

Then finally a tray of powdered colors: pink, yellow, green, red, blue etc was passed to Amma and no sooner did the colors begin to fly all over. All were cheering, laughing and shouting with Amma… all were covered in colors. Amma decided to add more colors to everyone’s mind as she ended the night by leading a new rocking Holi bhajan. As the tempo reached its high point, the chant ‘Radhe Radhe Radhe’ reverberated through the hall… until finally at the crescendo, Amma raised her hand and yelled out, ‘Hari Boooool’… the celebration of Holi started and the programs in Pune came to an end.

The next morning Amma and the group proceeded to Mumbai where another set of devotees was waiting to play Holi with her… to be continued…

– Kannadi

 

 

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Amma to visit Kenya, Mauritius and Singapore

Amma to visit Kenya Reunion Island, Mauritius and Singapore and hold programs – Satsang, Bhajan and Darshan.

Kenya
April 17-18 (11 am)
Venue: Oshwal Centre, Ring Road, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya {map}
Web: http://ammakenya.org/

 

Reunion Island
April 20 – 7.30 pm
April 21-23 (10 am and 7.30 pm)

 

Mauritius
April 25-26 (11 am)

 

Singapore

April 29  Friday 11:00 AM Meditation & Darshan

April 30 Saturday 10:00 AM Meditation & Darshan / 7:30 PM Satsang, Bhajan, Meditation & Darshan

May 1 Sunday 10:00 AM Meditation & Darshan / 7:00 PM Atma Puja & Devi Bhava

Venue: Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre
10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 Level 1, Hall B {map}

Further Details  & Contacts:
English  : (+65) 6341 7701 Tamil :  (+65) 8149 9004  Mandarin : (+65) 8149 9071 Whatsapp : (+65) 8132 7527

 

 

 

 

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Let our lives become an offering: Amma in Hyderabad

18-19 March, Hyderabad – BharataYatra 2016

After her programs in Bengaluru, Amma traveled east and held a two day Brahmasthanam festival in the scorching heat (topping 40-46 degrees daily) of Hyderabad, where she gave satsang, sang bhajans, led manasa puja and meditation instructing everyone in the local Telugu language.

 

Addressing the gathering, Amma said, “Let our lives become an offering that alleviates the pain of the suffering people. To be compassionate towards the poor, one does not need a lot of wealth or a very high position in society. A kind word, a compassionate glance, a small favor all these can bring light into their lives and into ours as well. It is not what we received, but what we were able to give, that determines the value of our life. If we have been able to bring happiness to a soul even for a minute, it is a great achievement in itself.”

 

 

During the function, Amma distributed more than 200 saplings to the devotees encouraging them to plant more trees, restoring the harmony of nature. She kissed each sapling before she handed it over to each devotee causing them to beam with joy as they received it.

A senior women police officer who came to meet Amma asked a question, “All day I am meeting people who are creating troubles in the society. So after some time its difficult to be centered. Since the field is mostly dominated by masculine energy I find it difficult to maintain my feminine qualities.” Amma responded, “Daughter, you have been entrusted with the duty of maintaining the garden. It’s true a gardner will not be enjoying the beauty of garden but more focused on worms and insects that may destroy the beauty of garden. She has to remove them then, and only then will the plants be healthy, bloom and bear fruits. Amma understands in most of the cases the officials are put in a frame, and not able to work freely, and sometimes are not able to act according to dharma because of the pressure from the top… Daughter, understand your roles – when you are in the office, be an officer, in the home be a mother, a wife etc. Learn to shift your roles according to the situation.”

 

During darshan the crowd was delighted by several impressive cultural performances including one from the Yadava community who presented an Oggu Dolu dance, which they usually present only in temples. Additionally the local children of the Amrita Vidyalayam presented several different programs.

On the second and final day, Amma finished darshan at 3.20 am and sang two joyous bhajans before finally leaving the stage. A few hours later, Amma and the group were on the road again…this time to Pune for the next stop on tour and to celebrate Holi.

– Kannadi

 

 

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This world is a priceless garden: Amma in Bengaluru

14-15 March, Bengaluru – BharataYatra 2016

After a long drive from Amritapuri, Amma arrived in the early morning to the Bengaluru ashram. Even though it was nearly 3am there was still a large group of enthusiastic devotees, cheering and welcoming Amma upon her arrival with chants of ‘Mata Rani Ki.’

Over the next two days Amma conducted a Brahmasthanam festival, giving satsang, singing bhajans and leading all in guided meditation and manasa puja in Kannada, the local language. Amma also gave darshan all day till early the next morning on both days of programs.

There were several noted dignitaries who shared the dias with Amma on the occasion, including: SK Mukherjee, Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court; HK Patil, Minsiter for Rural Development; and Santosh Hegde, Retd Supreme Court Judge and ex- Lokayuktha. Santosh Hegde expressed his appreciation of Amma’s commendable work in the education and the health sector. Addressing the gathering he said that Amma is not only a spiritual Guru but also a role model in serving the poor and needy. He told the audience that he felt blessed by meeting her. CN Balakrishna, MLA from Shravanbelagola who spoke was telling how Amma is like a light that has come to illuminate people’s lives.

During her own talk to the gathering, Amma said “This world is a priceless garden with which God has blessed humankind and other beings. He has provided all the required resources and wealth for all of us to live healthy, happy and peaceful lives. We, whom God blessed with discernment and knowledge, have to admit that we have betrayed God’s trust. Other species, despite lacking the discriminative power of humans, have remained rooted in dharma and have not ignored God’s instructions. Nevertheless, they are finding themselves the victims of human cruelty. “What possible change can my efforts make in this situation?” If we can light the lamp of faith and love in our hearts and walk forward together, then we definitely can bring about a change in society”

During darshan one girl asked Amma, “Sometimes people around me try to poison my mind. At such times, I doubt my devotion towards you, Amma. How to stay connected to you?”

Amma replied “Amma is not a person, but the principle. She is within you. Invoke that principle. Kaikeyi loved Rama so much, but a few minutes with Manthara spoiled her mind. Try to avoid bad company and be in good company always,” reminding her of the story from the Ramayana.

Amma added that, “If you draw a line and someone criticizes that it is small, then they should draw something bigger next to it to demonstrate their point. Loving Amma is showing compassion to all,” as the girl listened with awe and tear-filled eyes, feeling blessed.

Amritavidyalayam and Amrita University students presented different cultural programs on both days of the programs. Each day Amritavidyalayam students welcomed Amma to the stage with the chants of Vedic hymns and during the day one could see the students actively involved in the seva activities of the program.

At the end of darshan on the second night Amma sang a joyous bhajan ending the festival at 3.15 am.

– Kannadi