Free surgeries, planting of trees, book release, music & dance to mark Amritavarsham60 at the spiritual leader’s Ashram
Thiruvananthapuram, August 31: A range of ambitious humanitarian and ecological initiatives will unveil for the benefit of common people across India in end-September as devotees of world-renowned spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi Devi are celebrating her 60th birthday, turning Amritapuri into a festive venue of spiritual and socio-cultural activities.
The two-day festivity will see the launch of a wide array of new social welfare programmes and expansion of several existing services before its conclusion on September 27 — the birthday of the “hugging saint”, fondly called Amma by her followers in India as well as abroad.
The event, named Amritavarsham60, will be held at the university campus of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham adjacent to Amma’s ashram in Kollam district, according to a spokesperson of humanitarian organization Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM). “We estimate a crowd of no less than five lakh people,” he said.
MAM will announce new educational endeavours, confer cultural awards, release spiritual books and conduct an international summit aimed at uplifting India’s rural villages, the spokesperson added.
MAM’s super-specialty hospital — the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (also known as AIMS or Amrita Hospital) in Kochi — will provide Rs 50 crore worth of free kidney transplants, cardiac surgeries and cancer treatments to the poor throughout the country, he said.
As a member of the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign, MAM, along with Amma’s other organisations across continents will embark on a go-green mission. “Together, we will plant six million saplings within one year. Of this, more than 600,000 would be planted in Kerala,” the spokesperson said.
The programme, at state capital Thiruvananthapuram, will be inaugurated on September 2, with Kerala Chief Minister, Shri Oommen Chandy, planting the first sapling.
MAM will launch new programmes designed to empower and uplift women living below the poverty line. Also, Amrita Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine will introduce several cutting-edge technologies it has developed. “These include an implantable beating-heart patch for heart-attack victims, a nano-medicine that treats drug-resistant leukemia and a drug-delivering polymer wafer to prevent recurrence of brain tumors,” he said.
In the field of energy, the Math will introduce integrated nano material-developed solar cells and batteries that are 500 times more efficient than the existing technology and have much larger power densities. The project is being done jointly with the Amrita University School of Engineering in Amritapuri.
MAM is also arranging an educational symposium to cap a get-together of 59,000 beneficiaries of its social welfare pensions to widows, mentally and physically challenged individuals and other victims of poverty throughout India.
There will be a two-day international summit of scientists, social leaders, academicians, entrepreneurs and administrators focused on uplifting India’s rural village communities.
Further, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, MAM’s five-campus university, will launch a new department focused on research, education and proliferation of India’s vast spiritual tradition.
MAM will bestow its prestigious ‘Excellence in Cultural Literature’ award at both the international and Kerala state levels.
A three-day-long ritualistic prayer for world peace, Mahachandika Homam, will be conducted in Amritapuri Ashram, involving 50-plus traditionally trained priests. The event will also see performances by internationally-acclaimed musicians, singers and dancers from around the world, across artistic cultures and styles. Critically acclaimed director Shekhar Kapur will film Amritavarsham60.
“Amma will conduct a marriage ceremony for dozens of impoverished couples. MAM will provide all the requisite items for a traditional Indian wedding, including clothing, gold jewellery and post-wedding feast,” the spokesperson said.
From September 1 to 7, Amma’s centres around the world will conduct various social service activities, including cleaning drives, tree-planting and feeding of the poor. MAM will also release new books by Amma’s devotees and disciples, presenting and explaining Amma’s spiritual teachings.
“As for the free medical care programme, people living below the poverty line will be given top priority,” the spokesperson noted. “Those interested could contact, by mail or in person, MAM’s headquarters or any of our recognised branch ashram.”
Families seeking transplants have to arrange their own organ donors, he said, noting that MAM had provided free care to more than 26.2 lakh poor people throughout India since 1998.
The spokesperson said MAM has already assisted more than 100,000 women in starting more than 6,000 self-help groups in India. “We have been providing them education, start-up capital, marketing assistance and access to microcredit loans and micro-savings accounts from government-regulated banks,” he added.