Why don’t you stay close to me?

It was a beautiful Tuesday. As a person looking into setting up the audio setups every Tuesday, i had noted so many Amma’s children setting up a meditation spot near Amma’s peedam (seat). I had been tempted to set a position by putting up the meditation mat but had refrained many a times.

A few weeks ago, i went up early in the morning and placed a mat close to where Amma would sit and offer Satsang. However, as the time got closer, setting up the audio systems took up the focus and hence became busy. A western devotee came up looking for a spot. So i did go to him and indicated that he could take the spot and that the mat was mine. After that, Amma came, meditation took place. Its time for Q & A. Suddenly Amma called out “This mic has problems..” so i ran near to fix the microphone closer. Amma then looked and said “Here.. you need to stay here”.. pointing to my meditation mat which i had placed hours ago. Amma said “Why don’t you stay close to me?” with a smile.

Amma’s style is truly unique and as the 108 name goes – “sisya varya sabha madhya dhyana yoga vidhitsave namah”
-Kathick

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A house for Vikram

We are building a new double house for Vikram on a steep slope, high above the river level. His house washed away in floods just ten months ago.
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Vikram, his wife Anita, and their two sons will live in one half while his parents and brother will live in the other half. It is common here for families to share a larger house, so nearly half of the homes we are building are double.

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Vikram is a hard worker, helping us with every phase of construction not only on his house, but helping to build for others as well.

- Scotti

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Marriage in Batwadi

A wedding is one of the top expressions of Garhwali culture, bringing together large extended families, with good food and festivities. As a cultural experience, the wedding of Harish and Pria was a fascinating day. Yes, the bride was beautiful.

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However, as I look through the hundreds of photos I took of this event, I also see two scared children trying to trust that this rite of passage into adulthood will lead to a good life.

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Batwadi is a wonderful village, full of good hearted people who have already given much support to this family. Perhaps village life can provide the long term support these two young people will surely need.

May Amma also look after these children.

- Scotti

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All decked out for a wedding

I have told you in the past about Shanti Devi, the recipient of our first house, but have said little about her son Harish who will also be living there. He too shares her pain, the loss of a father, brother, and the mules that were the source of his family’s income. Today Harish was married. Although the house is far from completed, a temporary tarp roof was added, and they moved in for the occasion. As they have been living in a tent for many months, the unfinished house seemed quite spacious and took on a very festive air.

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A family pundit performed an elaborate set of rituals. Yellow cum cum was used as a wide circle of family each blessed Harish, then he blessed the house on all sides with yellow hand prints.

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Harish was ritually bathed, then dressed in the traditional white suit, money garland, and hat.

He then left on a white horse in a procession down the hill, going to the bride’s home in a neighboring village.

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I’ll show you the bride and scenes from the actual wedding in tomorrows post.
- Scotti

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smoking in the landslide

07 April 2014
I am here in Batawari, Uttarakhand for the last few days to document the work of the volunteers. today land slide happened right in front of us when me and sudheer were walking with village ladies. it was just 5 meter in front of us!

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2 villagers fell down, but they were o.k. there were 2 nepali workers working down there and they were buried in dirt. one was completely buried and another half the body. me and sudheer were the only men around at the time so we rushed down and started digging bare hands. after some time other workers arrived with shovel and tools so we all dig.
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one guy was in pain so we hurried but it took like 30 min to dig them out. after many people arrived i took some photos while digging. the other guy who was buried half body was not in pain and kept smoking. that was bit funny.
- abhay

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abhay

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Amma naama in Mandakini

“Hariyuva nadiya kalaravadalli kelutaliruvudu ammanaama!”

I heard a brahmachari singing to himself the above lines as we some of us Amma children were trekking along the Mandakini River in deeper Himalayas. When Amma is available in Amritapuri, all would throng there; but Her children posted in Himalayas have to complete as much of Her work as possible of building houses before the rains start. So they hear Amma Name in the sound of the river Mandakini!

With Amma’s blessings I happened to join them here last week.

On 3rd  April, our first day here, early in the morning there was a small puja at the construction site of the 14th house on Batawari sonar village slope by Chandrapuri, where lies Ashram’s base camp.  That was our first taste of the steep climbs. It’s no joke to walk up, still less to carry building material, we understood it firsthand!

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We did puja and chanted archana in which local people participated. The recipients did puja to the digging instrument and reverentially did the first dig. Then they offered kumkum, chandan and rice grain smears to the forehead of each one present; and distributed Prasad sweets.

The day kept us occupied with the Ammachi lab work at centers. The evening was a treat. Here in the northern belt people celebrate four navaratris a year, one per season. The Vasanta navaratri had begun from the day after Kannada Yugadi, namely April 1st onwards.

After hot roti and sabji, we walked up an uphill road, walked about a mile to reach the peepal tree. Even before we reached we had heard women singing to loud musical instruments. There were more than a dozen women that evening who gathered to sing almost up to midnight.

Jai ho mata durga bhavani
Haath jodu puja karulaa

The women have a strong stentorious voice that can be heard on the opposite hill; their songs pour out with less melody yet with more enthusiasm. Bhajans being their own compositions, they stress on the meaningful words and render the songs. They play on their instruments themselves. Song after song follows but the women do not compete in any way. Old and young, all of them open out their innocent voice and, clapping to the rhythm, sing the lines ‘in full throated ease’ ( as Keats’s birds.)

After each song, they do jaikar to the deity of the song and to Pipaleshwar Mahadev, the Shiva under that peepal tree; then, much to our surprise and joy, they add, Mata Amritanandamay Devi ki Jai!

And as the bhajans reach a peak mood, women slowly come to the central space and begin to dance! As the dancing goes on, it is not rare to see some going into trance and out of the everyday realm.

Amma the mother of all has easily entered the hearts of these simple rustics. This village has several beneficiaries of Amma’s houses, as well as the educational programs at anganvadi both for children and adults, and the tuition classes for school going children. And more to come.

 

- Sandhya

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Fertile fields

The Himalayas are the youngest mountain range on earth. That is both a good and a bad thing. They are prone to dramatic earthquakes, landslides, and devastating floods like we saw last summer. But the mountains also thrust up fresh, nutrient rich soil that makes this an
extremely productive place to farm.

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When I first arrived in late December, the fields in the Mandakini valley were ablaze with the brilliant yellow of mustard flower. Actually the mustard is a cover crop, planted along with winter wheat.

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In the past few weeks, the mustard has been harvested by hand from amongst the wheat which has now shot above waist high.

The thick crop of wheat will be ready for harvest by the end of April.

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Then the earth will be quickly turned to plant a rice crop just after the monsoon. Three crops from one field, very hard work, but the land supports them well. No wonder people are so happy to stay here despite harsh conditions.

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-Scotti

 

 

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