Back at Amritapuri, the Europe tour now becomes a beautiful memory and not a day to day adventure. Other lucky people are still on tour with Amma in the USA. However, it is also lucky to be at Amma’s ashram where there is construction everywhere for new housing. Looks like a lot more people are coming to Amritapuri to visit and live, both short and long term! And everywhere there is cleaning, paint and refurbishing to greet Amma and the hoards of people that are already beginning to arrive for the holiday season.
There is fresh light sand covering the usual local grey sand, thanks to the amazing appearance of a white sandy beach on the other side of the rocks at the beachside Ayurvedic building. Yes, it’s true. It began as a small stretch of sand at low tide and just kept growing until now we have a full fledged Mediterranean looking beach! (But still no swimming due to dangerous rip tides and currents). However, it is a wonderful place to walk, mediate in morning and evening and the source for the beautiful clean white sand now covering the ashram grounds. Alas, Amma has warned us that the beach is not permanent and will likely disappear with the next big storm. This is not a phenomenon unique to us, but all up and down the coast of Kerala, beaches are appearing and and disappearing unpredictably.
The other day there was a puja for the inauguration of the new vermi (worm) composting unit. This project has been going on for years, but now has been scaled up due to the demand for the rich soil produced by the worms from our food waste. This reminded me of the emphasis on all kinds of environmental and ecological initiatives that I saw in every country in Europe. There were so many displays and ideas. Here are a few.
Again in Holland the stage and hall decorations were made from recycled milk cartons. You would never imagine that milk cartons could be the source for these lovely flower decorations. The only things that had to be purchased were a few large staples and gold paint! Amma was very, very pleased at these low cost, recycled decorations as she stresses that she does not want much money spent on such things and prefers it to be allocated to ETW for education and humanitarian relief. We could see that the same stage decorations were used this year as last in most places, and only the minimum of fresh flowers were used.
In Milano there was a fascinating art exhibition based on the Indeed campaign. There were paintings or sculptures created for each of the six vows people can take and a table next to the exhibition informed people and gave them a chance to sign up. A lovely tulsi plant graced the table.
Here are some photos of my personal favs. I loved the big tree which was birdhouse, cum hall decoration. The recycled plastic water bottle planters are always a hit. There were also some very lovely paintings.
Another interesting thing that I saw at the Milano program was the Tisaneria and Herborvoria. In the giant room set aside for dining, which was barely big enough with this huge crowd, there was a café (Tisaneria) for drinking tisane (herbal teas). Tisanes are herbal teas very popular in Europe and an integral part of each country’s traditions. Tisanes are used daily for digestion, a sleeping aid, for illness or just for enjoyment of their unique and subtle flavours. The Tisanera gave visitors the chance to order one of a variety of teas and sip it in a café-like atmosphere with their friends. The tables had attractive tablecloths and a very happy and healthy looking tulsi plant as the centerpiece. (In fact, there was tulsi everywhere on the Etour this year. The plant seems to be able to thrive anywhere in the world with enough TLC).
Next to the tea café was the Herborvoria where you could buy fresh ingredients to make your own herbal teas. They did a thriving business and by the last day were sold out of many plants. The AYUDH table was also busy educating people about organic gardening and selling heirloom organic seeds. GreenFriends had to constantly restock their tulsi tea and tulsi seeds for growing your own tulsi.
We can see a growing awareness in the general public all over the world about healthy food, waste management, and environmental conservation. Amma’s devotees are tireless in propagating Amma’s message on these fronts. And it is slowly working, one person at a time. We can already see a difference in India after the ABC (Amala Bharatam Campaign for a clean India) launched 3 years ago. What governments can’t do, Amma and her people CAN DO. And we are doing it, one step at a time, one person at a time for ourselves and for the whole world.
Back at Amritapuri