They all had umbrellas

mother and son in the rain
Amma on stage in Trissur, Kerala

Tuesday, 4 May 2004 – Trissur, Kerala

The famous Pooram grounds against the backdrop of the age old Shiva temple was where Amma’s Trissur programme was held this year. It is world famous for its elephant pageant, as part of the annual temple festival where deities of neighbouring temples, Lord Krishna and Devi are brought face to face with each other in presence of a parade of more than 15 elephants on either side. This year’s festival had taken place just three day’s prior to Amma’s programme. The Pooram was a fitting harbinger of Amma’s coming, as in Amma we find the merger of these two aspects of the Divine—the ultimate detachment of the Lord Krishna and the ultimate attachment of Devi, the Mother.

True to its legacy, temple elephants welcomed Amma to Trissur. The majestic elephants with men on top holding aloft muthukudas, the brightly coloured, silver- and gold-fringed parasols receiving Amma were a feast for the eyes. One would have seen Amma being received with the same traditional muthukudas or decorated umbrellas across Indian cities. In Indian culture, the muthukudas symbolizes the standing and stature of the event or the person in the society. Incidentally, Trissur is home for these beautiful umbrellas with all their richness and embroidery. Umbrellas with more than fifty colour patterns of the most exotic type were lined up on either side of the aisle leading up to the stage.

The Shiva temple grounds are open and has no shelter available to shield people from the rains. So, when the surprise pre-monsoon rains started pouring after Amma’s satsang and as the bhajans started, more than 30,000 devotees who had gathered they had nowhere to go to keep themselves from getting wet. Monsoon hits Kerala invariably on first of June every year. Fortunately, most of them had brought umbrellas, and those who didn’t, quickly improvised, lifting their plastic chairs over their heads so that they could continue to watch and listen to Amma.

Trissur, Kerala

“Nature will never withhold her grace,” Amma said, as She watched Her children take the chair on which they were seated and lift it to their head to fend themselves from the rains. “Some of you may be wondering why Amma didn’t pray to hold back the rain, or why Amma didn’t stop it with Her sankalpa [resolve]. Don’t you know how much humanity is suffering right now for just two drops of water? Rain is an expression of Mother Nature’s grace—think that Nature is giving you a bath!”

Interestingly, as events unfolded, it became evident that Amma knew all along that it would rain on the day of the programme. When the programme was planned way back in February, She had specifically told the brahmachari in charge of the programme to prepare for inclement weather, even though the programme date was in mid summer. She also wanted the stage to be rain proof. If that wasn’t warning enough, a few days before the programme, Amma had sent message to all the devotees through the programme organisers, to make sure that they brought their umbrellas along. She even wanted the organizers to inform the public about the possibility of rain through the local newspapers. “But,” Amma said, “the organisers were too shy.”

Devotees smiling in the rain

So it turned out that the Trissur programme was the unfolding of yet another facet of Amma’s leela, this time more tangible and visible than ever before. Because of their faith in Amma, so many who trusted Amma’s words and cared to carry their umbrellas were spared a soggy night. It held a very important spiritual lesson for all those who assembled. We are not spared of trying situations in the journey of life, but when they visit us we oftentimes find that we already have the umbrella of faith to shield us from adversities.

It rained all night, and almost no one seemed to care. Even those who had drenched did not resent it and were all smiles. As it poured through the night and as darshan progressed, at around 4:00 a.m., Amma beckoned all those without umbrella (more than 500) to come on to the stage and dry themselves. There, She had Her disciples to help them to dry themselves. Most of them had tokens for darshan with late numbers were and would have had to wait till noon for Amma’s blessing. Amma’s compassion knew no bounds and She asked them to join the queue so that they would have early darshan.

Faith, surrender, adaptability and Guru’s all flowing compassion – in Trissur, all this was there in good measure.