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Peace and unity to be Amma's birthday wish
George Iype in Kochi |
September 17, 2003 05:00 IST
India's most famous woman spiritual leader, Mata Amritanandamayi, who has hugged more than 30 million people across the world, will offer a unique water ritual during her golden jubilee birthday celebrations at Kochi on September 26.
Some of the disciples of Amma -- as Amritanandamayi is called affectionately -- will carry vessels containing waters from the seven sacred rivers of India -- Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Sindhu, Narmada, Godavari and Cauvery -- for a 'convergence of waters' ritual.
According to Swami Amritaswarupananda, spokesman for Amma and one of the key organisers, Amma will bless the water and offer it to President A P J Abdul Kalam, one of the many VVIPs who will be attending the celebrations. "The President will pour the water at the root of a kalpataru (banyan) sapling," Amritaswarupananda told rediff.com "The water ritual symbolises the celebration of humanity's desire for unity, peace and harmony."
Amritaswarupananda said the event, Amritavarsham50, is much more than a birthday celebration. "Amma wants to spread the message of love, compassion and selflessness in every human being across the world. The overwhelming number of devotees coming to participate in the events is a testimony to Amma's ever-growing love and reach," he said.
According to the organisers, some five lakh devotees and admirers of Amma will converge on the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi from September 24 to 27. Amma's aides pointed out that it is for the first time in India that such a massive and diverse array of humanity will be coming together in a spiritual celebration.
Apart from the water ritual, one of the high points of the celebration will be a procession by Amma's devotees from 191 member countries of the United Nations, wearing the traditional attires of their respective cultures.
Amritanandamayi, who now heads India's largest spiritual empire, has already said that her 50th birthday celebrations will be an opportunity for the world to come together to find practical solutions to the many problems facing society today.
One VVIP who will miss the grand four-day event is Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who left on Tuesday on a 13 day visit of the United States and Turkey.
But Amritapuri, Amma's global headquarters based in Kollam district, has lined up an impressive list of international, political, business and cultural figures to address her devotees and well-wishers. They include President Kalam, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Kenya's Deputy Minister for Environment Dr Wamgari Maathai, spiritual leader Hanne Strong, Malaysia's Deputy Minister for Local Government Datuk Kayveas, Bawa Jain, assistant to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, US Department of Religion Director Rev Dr Joan Campbell, and Yolanda King, daughter of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, and director of the King Centre for Non-violent Social Change.