I was lucky enough to be a part of perhaps the most grand event that Amritapuri has witnessed in it’s history – Amritavarsham 60 – A celebration of the world renowned humanitarian leader Mata Amritanandamayi Devi’s – who also happens to be the chancellor of the university in which I study – 60th birthday . The build up to the event was indeed intriguing as one could sense the magnitude of the event , by the preparations that were being done and the long list of VIP’s and VVIP’s that was formulated . It was obvious that this event was indeed going to be unprecedented .
As is the custom in the college , the students are encouraged to do “seva” – or service in simple words – in whatever way possible . The college had instantiated several new and revolutionary initiatives . It was indeed impressive that before Amma’s birthday , the college conducted a few awareness campaigns of which we were a part of . It was titled “Serve an Hour” and we visited nearby schools and did our bit in spreading awareness about many relevant issues facing the modern society and the youth . My topic in particular was Misuse of technology. That however was only a tiny droplet of an entire ocean of events that the college organized . The visit was on the 24th of September 2013 . Still three days short of the birthday .
Anyways , I enrolled for doing “seva” in the press and media department of the college and that included a whole array of things . Some of them weren’t part of the plan , I must admit . My seva however began as early as the 20th of september . We were initially a group of three(myself , Tony and Ranjan Kannan) and were involved in accommodation and hosting of the VIP’s from the press and media side visiting the ashram . It was a unique experience ofcourse , having to rush here and there in the ashram for making the necessary arrangements and meeting the requirements wasn’t exactly a joy to behold , but in any case an important task . We did much of the same and more of the same and even more of the same untill finally I was assigned host to a group of reporters from the “Gujarati Samachar” . The fact that I knew Hindi was the reason for me being assigned to them in the first place and I too was happy at having the opportunity of communicating in “proper” Hindi after a long long time . I took them arround the campus and showed them the various developments the college had made and thanks to them I was able to spectate an interview they conducted with Dr.Vipin Nair , the head of the school of Biotechnology,Amritapuri . He enlightened them about the various achievements that the college had made over the years and the fact that the college recieved a patent from a U.S based University in such a short span of existence was indeed remarkable.
We then moved on , as the next day was the day of the “serve an hour” activities and the very night my guests were to depart . I met them late at night , and they were apparently waiting for me ! They thanked me , and wished me luck . I was pleasantly taken aback by this wonderful gesture that they displayed, it was something that I should have done in the first place , but they did it instead. All said and done , I set out to spend another night in our media center office(We had spent the three preceding nights there). There were no beds , however a room with A.C and Wi-fi was more than just a consolation .
The morning of 25th was distinctly different . We woke up and were asked to report in the college straight away . The ex-president and the missile man of India , his excellency Dr.Abdul Kalam was due to arrive in the college . The security was tightened , not to mention that the next day saw the arrival of Prime minister elect in many’s view – Narendra Modi . We the onlookers as Dr,APJ Abdul Kalam made his way in his usual charismatic way into the college and he later spoke on the launch of the 101 Villages initiative by the college . His speech stirred in memories of a previous encounter with him back in my schooldays in Pune . It was 5 years in the past and man was no different even today. He wore , what to me looked the very same suit that he had worn back then . Just as he had done back then , he ended his talk by vowing to answer three questions and no more . I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to ask him one of those three questions that he entertained on that day . I was however , unable to complete my question as I used the word “and” in the process and he stopped me right there and all of a sudden , my question turned into a question pertaining to economy which was anything but my intention 😦
The next day saw Narendra Modi make his precence felt by delivering an enthralling speech , his first public talk since signing the prime ministerial candidature-ship . He was quick to emphasize that he was here as a follower of Amma , and not as Politician and he did a commendable job at keeping controversial topics at bay . I was beginning to wonder if he would take a dig at the opposition , and just then , in his characteristically casual style , he said
What governments should do, Amma is doing ,
I felt that this was a nice way to have a go at the government while also pleasing the audience present there . By the time he was done with his speech , he had won over a new set of fans. His visit had been a success in every sense of the word .
The euphoria of having seen both Abdul Kalam and Narendra Modi in back to back days was getting heavy and some spicy drum beats from Sivamani would be more than welcome. That’s exactly what we got as late into the night , it was Sivamani performing on the stage , onto which I had somehow managed to creep in . I was initially called into pass on the “prasad” to Amma and from there on , I had luck on my side as I crawled my way onto the stage where Sivamani and Stephen Devassy performed . I eventually managed to get so close that I could quite literally touch both Sivamani and his instruments with a stretch of my arm . The beats played really got everyone of their seats and the sleep that they might have encountered otherwise . It ended at 3 am or so and we still had to put the chairs in order for the press for the following day as it was Amma’s birthday on the 27th of September . We didn’t sleep till 8 in the morning , when I managed to slip away and find some time for sleep back in the hostel . I slept till afternoon and made my way to the college for one final time to do seva . After more than a week’s hard-work , sacrificing comfort , sleep and what not ! We had finally done it , thanks to the combined effort of students , staff and so many others , Amritavarsham 60 had indeed been a sucess story – one that I feel privileged and honored to be a part of
- Amrita University to launch centre for spiritual studies (vancouverdesi.com)
- At Amma’s birthday, Narendra Modi has a bash in Trichy (dnaindia.com)
- 36mn hugs and still counting… that’s Amma (dnaindia.com)
- Amma’s 60th birthday celebrations to begin with three-day prayer (vancouverdesi.com)