Remembering the path we have travelled – 30 years of love and gratitude at Amma’s orphanage

27 December 2019, Parippaly, Kollam

Today Amma celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math taking over the orphanage {news} in Paripally, Kerala. At the time, the ashram was saving up funds to build its first prayer hall, but when Amma learned that 500 orphans who were about to be turned out onto the street, she diverted the funds to assume care of the children instead, and the Amrita Niketanam orphanage (and later, Amrita Higher Secondary Sanskrit School) was born. The orphanage was also the first major humanitarian initiative of the ashram, and laid the foundation for the global movement that is Embracing the World.

To celebrate the anniversary, Amma as well as thousands of residents and visitors to Amritapuri made the trip to Paripally, as did many alumni of the orphanage, young adults who were brought up in Amma’s ashram – often as refugees from situations of severe heartbreak and tragedy – and are now leading full, productive and happy lives.

The alumni took turns sharing their experiences, and describing the impact the loving care they had received at the orphanage had made in their lives. The touching tale of two sisters, Radhika and Revathy from Konny, {blog}, who were orphaned and disowned by their relatives after their father murdered their mother, and who found refuge in Amma’s orphanage and grew up literally under her loving and tender eye, left hardly a dry eye in the assembled crowd.

Nanjan, who came to the orphanage from a poverty-ridden Attapady village, also narrated his journey of life under the care and compassion of Amma to become an engineer at Kerala State Electricity Board. Mahesh, now a company executive in Bahrain, shared how Amma helped him achieve his goals in life through his residential study at the orphanage.

Another alumna, Saumya, categorically stated that she felt as safe as in a mother’s womb during her days at Amrita Niketanam. Children who have grown up to be Ayurvedic doctors, patent holders, ward members, airport staff, running beauty parlours, barber shops, motor repair shops, and farms all shared their stories, transforming the celebration into a deep expression of gratitude.

Amma gave darshan to the alumnae, listening to their stories, her eyes beaming with the love of a proud mother. Current residents of the orphanage also presented different cultural programs. As was fitting for the Sanskrit school, each dance and cultural program was introduced in Sanskrit.

Amma inspired both current and former residents: “At a time when we witness a deterioration in basic human values, abiding in those very values you tried to share love and brotherhood among all. Children like you are Amma’s wealth and joy. People say that we should not forget the path we have travelled. It means that we should be grateful. When our heart is filled with gratitude, love, sacrifice and other human values will shine automatically.”

Additionally, Amma honored the retiring faculty, and 25 alumni in need financial assistance were given a grant of Rs. 25,000 each. In honor of the orphanage’s 30th anniversary, Amma presented 30 saplings to the returning alumni. Meanwhile, current residents have been regularly planting trees on the orphanage and school grounds. Altogether, they have planted 1,000 trees. During the program, they presented the 1001st tree to Amma for her blessing and to later also be planted on the grounds.

Before departing the campus, Amma didn’t forget to take group photographs with the alumni, leaving them with a fresh memory to add to the countless precious moments they spent with Amma as children under her loving wing.

– Tulasi