Amma’s London program was held at the Alexandra Palace. High above the city, on a landscaped hill, the Palace is one of the most unique venues on the Europe tour. First opened as “The People’s Palace” in 1873, Alexandra Palace provided the Victorians with a beautiful event centre for entertainment, education and recreation.
For Amma’s program, devotees entered through the elegant palm court and traversed a long mirrored corridor to enter the Great Hall. The hall features a giant circular stained glass rose window on the east end and a huge organ on the west end. Amma faced the window and rays of light falling through it and the glass ceiling above occasionally rested their golden glow on her, before moving on with the sun.
I noticed a plaque dedicated by the Anglo German Family Historical Society to the 17,000 German and civilian prisoners of war that had been housed here during World War One, from 1914-1919, mentioning in particular, those who died during that time. Travelling across Europe one can’t forget the many bloody conflicts that have taken place on this extraordinary landscape for millennia. Every town and village has memories of the carnage and monuments to the fallen. I thought of this, listening to Amma’s satsang when she said that forgiving and forgetting heals wounds. Otherwise, one’s whole life can be ruined. And , indeed, the only way forward is to move beyond the wrongs and injustices of our private and national lives.
Strolling around the outside of the building for some fresh air during a break, I discovered an ice skating rink at one end of the palace. Walking down the hill, I saw a lovely lake full of ducks and swans, a play ground, skateboarding and flower gardens. The 196 acres of the palace grounds are open to the public to enjoy. All kinds of people were walking dogs and children, sitting at the lakeside café and enjoying the last roses of summer.
Amma’s programs reflect that cross section of society, as her darshan and her spiritual teachings are open to all. She is completely accessible to every nationality, to all ages and every level of society.
Very often people wander in “by accident” having just come upon the program. This also happened at the Palace, as seeing the signs, some visitors decided to see what was going on. A few of them wandered up to the information table, wide eyed. They couldn’t believe the number of charitable activities and the multi-faceted world of Amma that they had discovered.
At one end of the palace is a tall transmission tower. This tower was erected by the BBC for its first regular television service in November 1936. The world’s first public broadcasts of what was then “high-definition” television were made from Alexandra Palace in 1936.
The three days unrolled quickly and soon it was Devi Bhava. Amma’s spectacular magneta and burgandy sari matched the colours of the hall. And part of the event was broadcast on the web echoing, echoing the history of the Palace. One wonders what else was being ‘broadcast” by the blissful Mother during her three days in London!
Amma, her group and the attendees of the UK program were hosted efficiently and sweetly by her UK satsang members. As we drove to the next program in Berlin, we munched on a delicious lunch provided by the UK devotees. We could feel their love in every bite.
Ally Pally, London