The weeks between Amma’s arrival from US tour to her departure for the Europe tour were filled with joy and beauty. Starting with India’s Independence Day on August 15th, continuing with the Ganesh Festival, Onam, Krishna Jayanti, AmritaVarsham61 and ending with the culminating day of Navaratri, Vijayadasami. Amma showed us how to celebrate and observe spiritual festivals for the maximum benefit. When Amma is in the ashram, already every day is a festival, but on festival days Amma goes all out to create an event that no one can forget. On Vijayadasami, she came and gave satsang, initiated into letters, sang bhajans, then sat giving darshan until the wee hours of the morning.
Amma has instructed us as to the importance of these festivals. Although there is one underlying divinity, there are festivals in all religious traditions that reinforce different aspects of the Divine. The observance of these occasions contributes to our spiritual upliftment, self-discipline, awareness and also makes us happy. Ideally, bonds between family members, friends and within society are strengthened. At Amritapuri, all are our family and all strata of society are represented, as well as diverse nationalities and religious traditions. There is a place for all at Amma’s feet and we celebrate many festivals from traditions like Hinduism, Christianity, and Judism.
The day she left for the Europe tour, she told the group she would serve masala dosa for dinner after bhajans. In addition to that, she added a meeting to discuss ashram work while she was gone in the afternoon and a surprise trip to the swimming pool before bhajans. The masala dosa festival was an amazing event. About 20 grills were set up in the bhajan hall and Amma herself made dosas with her usual concentration and grace before passing plates to over a thousand people…all in record time. In just an hour, all had their plates and were savoring their dosas, just in time for the tour group to board the buses to the airport. Amma followed afterward. It was hard for people not to feel sad, knowing Amma would be gone for two long months. Yet, how many sweet memories there were to savor and contemplate. How many lessons Amma had given us in compassion, tireless service and the joy of life. Now it was the turn for the Europeans to experience these lessons and that bliss. For them, the festival was just beginning.