On the evening of the 18th there was a talk by Swami Poornamritananda, which was followed by a soul stirring bhajans led by Amma. The devotional singing by the famous Hindustani singer Anup Jalota at 10 p.m. transported the devotees into heights of devotional ecstasy
On the morning of the 19th, at 5 a.m. there was congregational Lalita Sahasranama chanting, in which thousands of devotees participated. At 7.30 a.m. there was Vedic incantations by the students of Tantra Vidyapeetham, Aluva, followed by an inspiring talk by Swami Amritaswaroopananda.
At 7.45 a.m. Amma was escorted to the dais, beneath a ceremonial umbrella held by one of the disciples. As She walked through the pathway in the centre of the vast auditorium, devotees were offering flower petals at Her feet amidst the chanting of Om Amriteswarayi Namah, which reverberated in the atmosphere. Having prostrated to the gathering of devotees Amma sat on the ceremonial peetam and then Swami Amritaswaroopananda and Swamini Krishnamrita Prana along with other disciples performed the pada puja. The playing of Panchavadyam (traditional instrumental music) by the children of Amrita Niketanam, Parippally, added to the devotional mood of the moment. Swami Amritaswaroopananda then led the chanting of the 108 holy names of Amma, in which tens of thousands of devotees joined in.
After the pada pooja there was the birthday sammelan (function), in which Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi, union minister for human resources development, was the chief guest. After the welcome speech by Dr. Prem Nair, Swami Amritaswaroopananda presented a memento to Dr. Joshi. Dr. Joshi then inaugurated the fourth phase of the Amritakuteeram project (a project for constructing 25000 houses for the homeless poor, 5000 every year) and also handed over the master key to the 5000 houses constructed during the current year.
New books and cassettes released
Amritayanam, a Sanskrit epic poem, describing the life and deeds of Amma, authored by Sri. Muthukulam Sreedhar was released by Prof.M.K. Sanu, scholar and cultural emissary, and received by Kavalam Narayana Panicker, noted poet and playwright.
Unmayilekkunaru, Amma’s address at the UN millennium peace summit of religious and spiritual leaders, was released by Sri.P.Parameswaran, Director of Bharateeya Vicharakendra and received by Sri. PV Chandran, Managing Editor of Mathrubhumi daily.
Mukti Margatil Oru Teerthatanam, spiritual travelogue, authored by Swami Paramatmananda was released by noted poet Sri.Kunjunni Master and received by Poet Laureate Akkittam Achutan Namboothiri
Jyotir Gamaya, Pearls of Wisdom from Amma, was released by Sri. O.Rajagopal, Minister of State for Railways and received by K.M.Mathew Chief editor of Malayalam Manorama.
Bhajan cassettes sung by Amma and Her disciples were released by Sri Sreekumaran Tampi, Film Director, and received by Sri Kamal.V.Rao, District collector, Kollam.
Swami Poornamritananda delivered the vote of thanks.
Amma then distributed the prizes to the winners of the Matruvani campaign. This was followed by Amma’s darshan in which She individually received and blessed tens of thousands of devotees. The Darshan went on till late in the afternoon. Also there will be Devi Bhava darshan in the evening, which continued throughout the night into the morning of the 20th.
Nearly a lakh of people participated in the birthday luncheon. The birthday programs went on smoothly and orderly owing to the elaborate arrangements made by the ashram authorities. Facilities such as 24-hour medical booth, ambulances, fire engines, closed TV circuits, water supply in polythene bags, etc. were provided for the convenience of devotees.
Above all, the birthday celebrations bore witness to Amma’s infinite capacity for giving, Her readiness to go to any extent for the joy and comfort of Her children. We all once again witnessed Her performing the superhuman task of receiving and blessing individually more than half a lakh of people within 24 hours. Throughout every minute of the celebrations She was the very picture of sweetness, compassion, patience, love and humility. Her life and deeds, which excel the beauty of Her words, is Her real message to the world.