Cleaning the surroundings, cleaning the mind

3 Oct 2010, Tokyo, Japan

Every year, Amma’s Japanese devotees in Tokyo celebrate Amma’s Birthday with great festivity and ceremony. This year, however, they decided to add a new twist – cleaning up a public park. Ironically coinciding with Amma’s birthday message {news} about cleaning one’s community.

The cleanup took place in Toyama Park of Shinjuku Ward, in downtown Tokyo. About 20 people participated in the morning session, which started with a brief talk by Br. Shantamrita on “Man and Nature.”

In a short while, the devotees had collected enough garbage from the park premises to fill many trash bags. The most common items of litter were cigarette butts, candy wrappers and empty cans/bottles. The participants enjoyed the occasion so thoroughly, they decided to make it a regular activity and scheduled monthly park cleanups to put into practice Amma’s teachings.

Embracing Amma’s recent message about environmental cleaning efforts, the devotees plan to conduct a campaign to raise awareness of how we can minimize our impact on nature by adopting eco-friendly household practices and waste management.

The afternoon program consisted of the more traditional Birthday Celebrations. Br. Shantamrita started by giving a talk on how Amma sees the interconnectedness of life, showing compassion not only to human beings, but also to Mother Nature. He then began the abhishekham to Amma’s silver padukas, while the devotees in attendance chanted Guru Stotra, Guru Paduka Stotra and Durga Suktam. Each program attendee was given the opportunity to perform abhishekham, as well. All were encouraged to remember the symbolism of the ceremony while participating – we are offering our respects to the padukam as a symbol of our respect for the lofty principles embodied in Amma’s life.
As the abhishekham continued, the devotees sang bhajans full of devotion and love. After the conclusion of the ceremony, the devotees remained in the hall to watch videos of Amma. Especially engrossing was the new Japanese version of Amma’s charitable activities – Stories From The Field.