Three days before Amma left for the South India tour, She surprised us on a quiet Friday by coming down from her room for an afternoon of rice threshing seva. Apparently the ashram has some farm land and this was the first harvest. I was lucky enough to be there to see her demonstrating and teaching bramarcharinis and western devotees. She stood surrounded by large mounds of hay and many devotees who were lifting the hay and trying to shake and bang it on benches to release the rice grains from the hay. There was a lot of ‘whack, whack, whack’ on the benches with not much result and then Amma herself picked up a big stack and demonstrated. She held it over her head and brought it down to the bench and ‘whoosh’… the rice fell perfectly from the straw. She did it with such strength and beauty and it was inspiring to watch. She made the task look effortless and easy as a stick dance. It made me recall a passage I read once about the beauty of action done by a Mahatma… that each and every motion they make is so lovely to watch because of the stillness inside them. The motion comes from this stillness and that’s why it has such beauty. So rice threshing became a beautiful dance.
She and we continued threshing for quite some time and it was messy and chaotic and fun. Afterward she sat and told stories and I didn’t learn until later that she was telling about her childhood when she had the chore of threshing rice and was scolded by her grandmother for doing it wrong. There is a wonderful article on amritapuri.org with much more about what she said. She talked about her love of nature and chasing dragon flies… take a look.
After the stories we walked to the beach for a rare chance to meditate with Amma there and watch the sun go down.
Here’s the web link for the article: http://www.amritapuri.org/2623/ harvest-festival /
Forgive my mistakes on threshing terminology… I know nothing about it!