31 Dec 2021 – Amritapuri New Year celebrations
The New Year celebrations began with the ashram children performing a wide range of cultural programs, including Thiruvathira, Bhangra, and Bharata natyam dances; a puppet show and a musical medley. After the performances, Amma shared her New Year’s message. Then as the clock struck midnight, she led every one in the chanting of Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu, the prayer for world peace. After the prayer she helped everyone joyously start the new year by singing “May the Light of Unity” and “Sibji Bole”, a Bangla bhajan and then distributing juce prasd to every one present.
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Excerpts from Amma’s NewYear message:
“We are welcoming 2022 with great expectations, just as we anticipate the glorious sunrise after the darkness of night as we begin to see the twilight of dawn. May this new year fill everyone’s lives with happiness, good cheer, peace and prosperity. Amma knows people are still agitated—that their fear has yet to completely go. Even so, this is what Amma’s heart desires.
We welcome the new year with exquisite displays of fireworks, beautiful light arrangements and wishing each other a very happy new year. However, these celebrations and expressions of joy are short-lived. Soon, people are once again immersed in their narrow thoughts and actions. If the external lights and expressions of joy are unable to fill us with light or to make our mind more discerning, what is the use of such celebrations?
This doesn’t mean celebrations are not needed. Amma just feels that along with such celebrations, we should also understand the underlying supreme truth. Today, people get very few opportunities to forget everything and celebrate. They are so immersed in their day-to-day lives and problems with their jobs and children and other responsibilities. To propel a boat forward in a river full of water-moss, we have to first remove the moss. As the boat keeps moving forward, the moss has to be removed again and again. Similarly, the things we do to make our life move forward are only temporary fixes. The happiness we get does not come out of true knowledge. While there is nothing wrong with gaining happiness in this manner, we should also seek the joy that comes from helping the poor and suffering. So, Amma is not saying we shouldn’t celebrate. Let people celebrate and be happy at least in this way.
What is the right way to welcome the new year? First of all, we should do some self-introspection. Sincerely weigh all the good and bad you have done during the past year in the scales of your mind. Earnestly try to differentiate between dharma and adharma. Try to forgive those who have erred and to love those you dislike. Find it in yourself to forget and forbear. Try to do all your actions as an offering to God, and to accept their results as God’s will, with courage and determination. Incorporate selflessness into your life. At least try to do some small selfless actions every day; since you have not studied the scriptures, you may be unable to do this completely. Nurture your sense of social responsibility. Change the attitude that you are separate from the world, and act with the knowledge that you are a member of this massive universal family. This is the manner in which we should welcome and celebrate the new year—changing our attitude and acting accordingly.
New Year’s is not meant to be wasted partying under the influence of drugs and alcohol, making some noise as the clock strikes 12. Recently near Ernakulam some drunks got into a brawl with the police. Because they were drunk, they had no idea what they were getting into. They even set fire to a police jeep. The police beat them up. If they hadn’t been so drunk, they would have at least ran and escaped. But they all just stood there. They were unaware of the consequences—that they could be arrested and put behind bars.
Some people say drugs and alcohol bring out our inner love. What love? Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, people lose even their base level of awareness. Then they don’t know what they are doing or who they are talking to. On one hand, they will hug strangers saying, “O my darling brother!” And on the other, they won’t hesitate to plunge a knife into someone. Is this love? This is what we see and hear around us. Amma is just mentioning this—that’s all.
When we lose awareness, we lose everything. So, we should maintain alert awareness and remain awake at all times, in all circumstances. Our life’s goal should be to awaken to such a state of constant wakefulness. Otherwise, even though the calendar’s numbers are changing, there will be no change in us or in the world around us.
The power of the human mind is amazing. If our thoughts and sentiments are good, then the world around us will also be good. To a great extent, if we try, our mind can see good in anything. It can find joy and beauty in anything. In the same way, if we try, we can make the coming year beautiful and meaningful.
When talking about the power of the mind, we should also consider New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s is a time for evaluating the failures and successes of the previous year and taking a firm resolution regarding how we will move forward. When we make a New Year’s resolution, we should keep one thing in mind: they should be realistic. For example, if an alcoholic takes a vow to never touch a drop in the new year—as is often the case—his chances of sticking to it are less. So, it’s important to set smaller goals. When we succeed at those, we can then move on to bigger goals. Small failures on the way shouldn’t end our resolution. If there is effort on our side, God’s grace will certainly flow to us.
We are entering the new year with some very valuable capital. What is this capital? It is time—the present moment—that is in our hand. It is the sum total of the present moments we possess that will decide the direction and progress of the new year. Money from last year’s account gets rolled over into this year’s account. But this never happens with time. Time gone by is time lost; it can never be regained. Can a 40-year old become a child again? Can he return to his youth? Lost time can never be found again. Even if we lose money in a business initially, we could turn it around and earn that money back. But lost time can never be found again. It is gone forever. Neither can we borrow time from the future. Hence, we should be alert when it comes to using our time effectively. We should use the present moment properly.
The past year may have given us many good experiences and bad experiences. However, we should not get hung up on them. Try to remember only those experiences that are useful. Wipe your mind clean of all the decay and rot clinging from the past year. Then, every day, decorate your mind with virtuous thoughts and values. Positive thoughts, patience, compassion, kindness, etc, are divine qualities.
In some places, there is a New Year’s tradition of burning the effigy of “Old Man Gloom.” Burning the effigy symbolises burning away all the unhappiness of the previous year, and taking a fresh new step into the coming year with renewed energy.
When we become old, we become like a king who has lost his crown. If we ask our eyes to read, our eyes say, “No, we won’t!” If we ask our nose to take a deep breath, our nose says, “No, I won’t!” If we ask our tongue to speak, our tongue says, “No, I won’t!” If we ask our ears to hear something, they say, “No, we won’t!” If we ask our hands to pick up something, they say, “No, we won’t!” If we ask our legs to run, they say, “No, we won’t!” So, we are like a king who has lost his crown; the subjects of the kingdom have stopped obeying us. They tell our mind to shut up and to leave them alone. We have to energise this old mind and rejuvenate him, make it step into the new year with renewed vigour. That is the principle behind burning the effigy of Old Man Gloom.
May we each be able to realise a better new year filled with more happiness, prosperity, peace and justice than the previous year. May 2022 be the auspicious year in which humanity reaches new horizons and scales greater heights. May grace bless us to be able to work towards this end and emerge victorious.
When Amma says this, Amma knows a new flame will be ignited inside my children’s hearts. But on the other hand, darkness seems to be spreading; it is not fully eliminated. New variants and diseases are emerging. If people lose jobs or lose their business investments, they will again go into shock. If we grow weary, we will be unable to move forward. So far, we have moved forward somehow. In the same way, things will move forward. We will be able to overcome this hurdle also. My children, have faith in this and remain courageous. And work hard towards this end. As Amma always says, like all other decisions, happiness is also a decision. Take a firm decision that, “Come what may, I will be happy. Come what may, I will be brave.”
Whether we laugh or cry, days will go by. If we cry, we only stand to lose. We will become weak, lose our health, and lose our sleep. Many people thus turn their lives into a huge loss.
We cannot exit through a closed door. If we put in the effort, a door will certainly open before us. So, my children, don’t cry looking at the closed door. If we try, sooner or later, a door will open and we will be able to get out. We ourselves are the light and the darkness on our own path. My children, do not lose your mental strength. That is our real wealth. If we lose that, everything is lost. Hold firm to your self-confidence.
For a car to start, its battery should be charged. Otherwise, even if the fuel tank is full, the car won’t start. Similarly, even if we have God’s strength within us, we can move forward only if our battery of self-confidence is charged. If we lose that, we will be unable to awaken our talents, no matter what. So, hold on tight to your self-confidence.
Amma sends her New Year’s wishes to one and all. May grace bless all my children! Sending Amma’s loving hugs and kisses to all my children!