In reading about Amma (http://www.amma.org), one thing that got me interested is her philosophy,
“Where there is true love, everything is effortless.”
Amma has helped (embraced and comforted) more than 33 million people. Amma was from
South India. Even
at a very young age, Amma has devoted her time in meditation and helping those
who are in need.
The universe introduced me to Amma through a new dear friend of mine, Marie. And as a birthday present, Marie and I went to
yesterday to attend Amma's scheduled tour in New York. ( My friend and I met through our volunteer work with FALDEF, made possible by the doors opened by the book "Out of Status") Javits Center
The program was open to the public, and was free of charge.
The first thing we needed to do was fall in line in order to get our token for darshan (Amma’s personal blessing or embrace). I was planning on getting there by 8am, but with delays in the NJ transit, I didn’t arrive at the
until about 8:45am. Hubby walked me to 11th ave and Javits Center Lucky me, it was
a lovely day! 40th
The line was already long when I arrived. Another blessing: my friend was already in line!
The doors were supposed to open at 10am, but we didn’t get to go inside the building until about 11am.
While we were in line, newbies like me were handed a paper that describes what tokens are. A token tells you when it’s your turn for a hug from Amma. Make sure you hold on to that token because without it, you won’t get your turn to get your darshan. Tokens can be difficult or impossible to replace, so guard yours carefully! Your token represents your group number. Mine was D-1. (Assisted darshan seating was available to individuals who need special assistance)
By 11:30am, Amma arrived in the building. She was welcomed to the hall with a pada puja. There were attendees who were kissing her feet, showering her with petals. I read that this “traditional ceremony involves worship of the feet (pada), of the spiritual teacher who is grounded in the ultimate Truth. By honoring one who is established in Supreme Love, we are invited to awaken that same Love within ourselves.”
Like anything else, you only receive what you are willing to offer and experience.
The venue wasn’t in an intimate setting. This year was the first year Amma's program was held at the Javits Center. Last year it was at the Manhattan Center. My friend who had seen her in India twice, told me that Amma's followers follow her like fans follow rock stars.
There were various services available which were organized in tables in a fair-like atmostphere inside the
. You are free to
leave your seat while waiting for your turn for your darshan. Javits
A unique way to start my birthday week and I’m definitely looking forward to next year.
There following services were available:
1) The Amma Shop
3) Chair massage
4) Flower shop
5) Food service (yes! Indian food – all vegetarian)
6) Seva Desk (Sanskrit word for service)
7) Verdic Astrology
I didn’t want to miss my turn so I briefly browsed through the various tables. I did acquire a mala (a set of 108 beads) and a bracelet.
Amma believed that “Love expressed is compassion, and compassion means accepting the needs and sorrows of others as one's own.”
While waiting for our turn, the projector screen and audio highlighted Amma’s humanitarian movement called “Embracing the World” – which provided free education to 32,000 children in India, donated $1M to the US for Katrina victims, donated $4M to Japan to help the earthquake victims and many more!
Most people were dressed modestly. Being around Amma is a sacred occasion. I was wearing a long sleeveless printed dress and a pink shawl. The devotees around Amma wore white – even though its not a requirement to wear white, which is a symbol of purity and peace, some people wear it as a reminder of their spiritual goal.
Finally, around 2pm, the flip down sign was set to “D-1”. My friend and I stood up and went to the designated darshan line. All of a sudden, my heart opened up and I got teary eyed. I was just filled with emotions I couldn’t explain. There was a little table close to the line where you can purchase something (only if you wish) to offer to Amma – it can be a garland, a Hersey kisses, a potpourri, for as little as $1. (I purchased a little sachet of potpourri)
My friend reminded me to bring items to be blessed by Amma. So there I was in line, barefoot, holding my new mala, bracelet, family pictures and my book, “Out of Status”.
Finally, it was my turn. The volunteer handed me a tissue to wipe off the powder and sweat from the right side of my face. Amma blessed my mala and put it over my neck, and blessed my bracelet and put it on my right wrist. She proceeded to bless the book with my family pictures, which in turn made me cry a little. She then opened her arms and embraced me tightly. My head rested on her chest, her chin touching my head, and it sounded like she was singing something to me. I felt like a child being hugged by her mother on a rocking chair. I felt like I was embraced by someone who loves me unconditionally. She then handed me a Hershey kisses!
I was then asked to sit close-by on my feet, on the floor.
I saw some people were bowing – touching their heads to the floor. I read up more on why people bow in such a manner:
“Humility is an important quality in spiritual life, and bowing down is an outward expression of the desire to go beyond the ego. Lowering the head below the heart represents the surrender of self-importance and pride.”
I just lowered my chin, bowed my head a little, looked up occasionally to observe and sat silently, until it was my turn to leave.
Amma’s healing presence definitely brought more love and joy in my heart.
Joy is something we receive as a gift, and a gift to be shared.
I ended the day with a spontaneous late lunch with my hubby and an inspired feeling knowing that I met another person who is making a BIG difference in another person's life! What started out as a small gesture spread and multiplied.
Amma's New York Tour schedule for this week:
Morning program 10-3pm (July 9, 10, 11)
Evening program 7pm – 3am (Tues, July 10) . This program begins with a satsang (a spiritual discourse) followed by a 90-minute set of bhajans (devotional music), meditation and darshan.
Devi Bhaha 7pm- the next morning (Wed, July 11 – my birthday!) This program begins with a satsang, followed by an Atma Puja, a ceremony to promote peace and well-being for the whole world. Darshan begins around 8pm and continues into the morning.
Resources: www.amma.org, 2012 Program Guide NY