All these years it was a common sight on the program site to see a whole lot of Hindi dialect speaking families from neighborhood of the vasant kunj ashram, sitting, squatting, squeaking and spitting all over the dining area. The children had running noses, matted dirty hair, and too gaudy colorful but rag like clothes. They were obviously not Devotees come for Amma’s darshan. They were here for the free meal, and they were here more because nobody asked them to go. They comprised of women and children in the ratio of 1:8 or 1:10.
Who were they? They were the families of the watchmen and gardeners of the nearby posh farm houses of the Delhi elites.
Amma’s representative in Delhi ashram saw them as children of Amma but deprived of many things in life. They had all the time to waste after their school hours; they just lounged about, doing nothing. Whenever there was an event in the ashram, they came dressed, and ate and went back. Nijamrita ji thought he has to help them; he has to do something about them. Amma’s blessings were always there. He invited them whole heartedly to participate in the ashram activities. Ayudh was just teeming anew; these little boys and girls were organized and made members of Ayudh.
They came every evening for bhajans, and prasad. They got into several good habits, like maintaining cleanliness, visiting temple with devotion, singing namavalies etc. some of them grew fond of puja related activities, and they were encouraged along their interests. The regular activities of Ayudh made their involvement more intense, as they got to mix with youngsters from devotee families. Ashram devotees donated and provided them with many of their necessities; also they offered more services towards them. As a result, some women devotees hold tuition classes for these children every day in the ashram premises. They coach them in spoken English, math, science, Hindi, Sanskrit etc; as a result they fare much better than before in their schools.
Their parents are happy their children got a good pastime: ‘ hamare bacche har roz mandir jate, ashram jate!’ Basically these families are from villages far from Delhi, so they have a god friendly good culture. Delhi atmosphere would not support their wish. But thanks to Amma’s ashram there, the parents are happy their children are not lost in the city’s carefree culture.
This time, on the eve of the brahmastanam program, when I went on my usual long walks into the farmhouses’ area, I observed a big change. The little children moving in those lanes were smiling to us, recognizing us as Ashram people come with Ammaji from Kerala. Some of them called out Namah Shivaya. One of them Ramu, stopped his bicycle to talk to us. “haan ji, ham ashram ke ayudh bacche hai.” “haan haan. bhajan gate hai.” “Tuition me padte bhi.” “Gurucharanam sadgurucharam aata he ji.”
Next day as the program started, we got to see these little boys and girls, wearing volunteer badges with glee, and doing seva, such as serving our first chai, water, removing garbage, moving things, washing dishes, regulating vehicles in the parking area, assisting senior volunteers in various departments and so on. Happiness was writ large on their faces. On the second day towards the end when Amma called volunteers for darshan, some of these boys hurried up, and after darshan, like an expert secured place by Her peetham and spent such intimate moments with Amma that they drew everyone’s attention. In the end when Amma sang Matarani and Bandalo, the boys jumped from Her side to Her front and clapped Amma’s hands!
- Sandhya, Delhi – Bharata Yatra 2013