Celebrating transformation, cultural heritage, and Amma’s impact

Amma during Abhayavarsham celebrations in Amritapuri

21 May 2023 Amritapuri Ashram

Over the course of 34 years, Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) has orchestrated an incredible transformation for Indigenous and local communities, lifting them from poverty while preserving their cultural heritage. Over 1500 alumni gathered in Amritapuri to celebrate 34 years since MAM took over the orphanage in Paripally, Kerala, transforming it from a grim place into a joyful haven for the children.

About 800 of these alumni come from the Attapadi community in Palakkad District and Wayanad District, areas housing Kerala’s largest tribal settlements. They honoured Amma with a traditional procession, offering natural products, like wild honey, reflecting their deep connection with nature.

Abhayavarshan procession in honour of Amma
A traditional procession paying homage to Amma.

Nanjiyamma, a folk singer from Attapadi, and Cheruvayal Raman from Wayanad, both renowned for preserving their regions’ cultural heritage, were chief guests. Nanjiyamma’s fame reached nationwide acclaim for her song in the Malayalam movie “Ayyappanum Koshiyum,” and Cheruvayal Raman received the Padma Shri Award for his work in conserving indigenous rice varieties. So far, he has recovered 60 natural varieties of the more than 100 that existed before the hybrid practices of modern farming.

Drumming during Abhayavarsham 34 celebrations n Amritapuri
A Chenda Melam, a traditional cylindrical percussion instrument with its roots in Kerala, played a significant role in the event.

Amrita Niketanam, home to around 500 children, rescues them from poverty, abuse, and dispossession of their traditional lands. It aims to break the cycle of trauma and restore cultural heritage. Amma’s vision extends to Amrita Sanskrit Secondary School, Kerala’s largest school teaching Sanskrit as the primary language, offering a blend of traditional wisdom and modern development.

The original orphanage was established in 1964. Sinking under the weight of heavy financial debts, the institution’s headmaster contacted Amma for help in 1989. Amma diverted the funds set aside to build the Kali Temple of the Ashram and completely renovated the facilities and transformed the atmosphere with a profound concern for the children’s wellbeing.