Spirituality, culture, science & service to mark Amritanandamayi 60th birthday

Amritapuri — an ashram complex with an adjacent university, lining a green stretch along the coast in this south Kerala district — will witness the convergence of 5,00,000 people till the conclusion of the Amritavarsham60 celebrations on September 27, according to the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) which is convening the event.

Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, the Vice-Chairman of the MAM’s board of trustees, said today that the core part of the celebrations would span for three days starting on September 25, witnessing the presence and performances of world-renowned experts from several fields of excellence, besides political figures and performing artistes from India and abroad.

“People from all over the world have already started arriving at the Amritapuri to seek blessings from Amma (as the iconic leader is called by her followers),” he said. “It is going to be a massive celebration of Amma’s 60 years of service to the world community. Many have taken this as an opportunity to show their gratitude to Amma for her 60 years of love, compassion and selflessness and to rededicate themselves to serving humanity.”

The dignitaries at the sprawling venue alongside the backwaters of scenic Vallikavu village will include former Indian president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (on Sep 25), Kerala Chief Minister Sri. Oommen Chandy, Gujarat Chief Minister Sri. Narendra Modi (Sep 26) and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Sri. Vijay Bahuguna (Sep 27), besides a string of state governors and ministers of central and Kerala governments.

The main project unveiled this year would be an MAM programme to adopt 101 villages across India, with the intention of making them self-reliant role-model villages, the swami said, stating that this would be launched on September 27.

“On the 26th, Sri. Modiji will unveil a number of new scientific advancements and prototypes made by Amrita University that we are offering to society,” the Swami said. These include a wireless ECG-monitoring system called Amrita Spandanam and a personal safety alert system for women in distress that has more than 15 features.”

On the evening of the same day, the Kerala Chief Minister will inaugurate a set of new charitable ventures of Amma’s ashram. As for the concluding day, the notable participants include Governors Sri. K. Sankaranarayanan (Maharashtra), Sri. B.L. Joshi (Uttar Pradesh), Sri. K. Rosaiah (Tamil Nadu) and Sri. Aziz Qureshi (Uttarakhand). Among other dignitaries on September 27 are Union cabinet ministers Sri. Vayalar Ravi, Sri. Oscar Fernandes and Sri. Harish Rawat.

Other announcements and unveilings by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) will include exciting developments in cancer research by the Amrita Centre for Nanosciences & Molecular Medicine, a new tablet-based learning programme for literacy called Amrita RITE and a clutch of exciting online innovations for the benefit and protection of society, the swami revealed.

True to its style, MAM — a non-governmental organisation Amma founded in 1981 — will use the occasion to launch new humanitarian and educational initiatives throughout the country and extend existing ones. Besides the ambitious 101 village-adoption programme, MAM will launch a Rs-50-crore relief-and-rehabilitation package for calamity-struck Uttarakhand state upcountry, where the Math would rebuild 500 houses destroyed in the June flooding.

“We will also provide financial aid for victims of early-August landslides in hilly Idukki, pledge Rs. 50-crore in free surgeries at Amrita Hospital in Kochi (both in Kerala),” he said. “MAM also plans to open new medical centres at our hospitals, and open a new Centre for Spiritual & Indic Studies and extend the reach of our already scholarships and pensions for the poor.”

On September 25 and 26, an international summit titled ‘Our Villages, Our World: What Can We Offer?’ will be held at the Amritapuri Campus of Amrita University. The inaugural function will include addresses by Dr. Kalam, eminent scientist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan and Noble laureate Dr. Leland H. Hartwell. It will see the participation of many other renowned scholars, senior government officials, business leaders, environmentalists, scientists and educationalists. “The concept is that we can use the ideas generated by this summit and implement them in our 101 village adoption programme,” the swami said.

For the devotees of Amma, the anticipated invents include Sri Guru Padapuja and Amma’s birthday address on September 27, as well as opportunities to hear her sing bhajans and to have her darshan. A decade ago, Amma had, on her 50th birthday, embraced thousands of people nonstop for 24 hours.

Amma’s bhajans will not be the only musical highlight. Renowned artistes throughout the world would offer performances on all three days starting from afternoon and lasting past midnight.

They include Hindustani flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, Carnatic mridangist Umayalapuram Sivaraman, classical vocalist Ajoy Chakrabarthy, dancers Shobana and Manju Warrier, drummers A Sivamani and the Stephan Devasy Group, Karaikudi Mani & team, sitarist Nayan Ghosh, Odissi couple Sujata & Ritakant Mohapatra, Baul music by Parvathy Baul and Africa music by Marie Nga.

“We also have long-time Amma devotee and famous rock guitarist J Mascis performing,” said the swami, about the frontman for critically acclaimed rock group Dinosaur Jr. who consistently ranks in lists of top 100 rock guitarists of all time. “We may have more musical surprises from the West still to announce.”

The ceremonies on September 26 will open with Pancheri Melam by a 100-drummer-strong percussion ensemble led by ethnic chenda master Kizhakoottu Aniyan Marar and a bouquet of dance performances from all over India choreographed by Regata Trivandrum. There will also be a procession of flag-bearers from every nation with devotees of Amma dressed in the traditional costumes of their native countries.

Other dignitaries gracing the celebrations include Rajya Sabha Speaker Sri. P.J. Kurien and Kerala Assembly Speaker Sri. G. Karthikeyan, Union Ministers of State Sri. K.V. Thomas, Sri. K.C. Venugopal, Sri. Shashi Tharoor, Sri. Kodikunnil Suresh and Sri. Sarve Satyanarayana besides Kerala Ministers Sri. Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Sri. K.M. Mani, Sri. Aryadan Mohammed, Sri. P.J. Joseph, Sri. Adoor Prakash, Sri. A.P. Anil Kumar, Sri. K.C. Joseph, Sri. K.P. Mohanan, Sri. C.N. Balakrishnan, Sri. V.S. Sivakumar, Sri. Shibu Baby John and Smt. P.K. Jayalakshmi.

This is not a mere birthday celebration, the swami stressed. “At its heart, it is a prayer for world peace and harmony,” he said. “We are conducting a massive Sri Chandika Yagam for World Peace from September 21 through the morning of the 25th. People from all nations will be participating, transcending their differences and coming together in the universal culture of the heart and rededicating themselves to try to follow Amma’s holy footsteps.”

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