14 May 2000, Amritapuri
Since this was scheduled as the last darshan before Mother’s two-month tour of Japan and the USA, the crowd was immense: more than 12,000 darshan tokens were given out, and the entire gathering of devotees was estimated at 15,000 to 20,000. Only a few thousand at a time can fit into the current temple hall, so all ashram buildings and grounds were “carpeted” with devotees.
After bhajans, the stage was decorated with large traditional vessels (para) full to overflowing with the following five items: paddy, husked rice, puffed rice, jaggery and banana. The central one graced with tall stalks of coconut flower buds (chotta). Oil lamps added lustre to the festive scene.
Shortly after 7:00 in the evening, the doors opened to reveal Amma in the bhava of the Divine Mother. For the next twelve hours, She sat there, embracing each of Her children, laughing and smiling at them. She fed over fifty babies their first rice in the traditional annaprash ceremony, and initiated nearly three hundred devotees with mantras. In all the ways we know so well, Amma was being the presence of Divine Motherly Love among us.
It was after 7:30 Monday morning when Mother rose from Her seat, moved to the front edge of the stage, and showered the devotees with sacred flower petals. Stepping back into the inner temple, She stood gazing out at the thousands of Her children who had waited through the night for this moment. Even though Bhava Darshan had stretched through the night into the next morning, there were still too many to fit into the temple. Those deprived of Mother’s physical proximity had the consolation of the closed circuit TVs, with the added benefit of beautiful close-up views of Mother. Where in close-ups they could see the pinpoints of light that always dance, sparkling, in Her eyes just before She finally closes them.
At precisely 7:45 on Monday morning, 15th May, 2000, the temple doors closed and the shanti mantras were chanted.