Amritavarsham-50, the mega four-day celebrations commemorating the 50th birthday of Mata Amritanandamayi, got off to a spectacular start here today.
The setting could not have been better as it was a mini UN itself with representatives from 191 countries. Deputy prime minister L K Advani lit the lamp to mark the inauguration of the celebrations which signal certain positive initiatives for a better world.
MATERIALISM: Mr Advani, who was overawed by the spiritually charged mammoth gathering, said “Amma” symbolised humanity’s desire to rise above materialism. He said it was one rare occasion when speeches did not matter as the presence of “Amma” itself was an elevating experience. He termed the spiritual congregation as unique. Amidst full-throated chants “Amma… Amma” by the gathering, he released the symbolic signature video of the Mata embracing the world.
At the function, Amrita TV, a new channel dedicated to uphold Indian cultural heritage and free from commercialism, was launched. The function started with all the distinguished guests, who included Kerala chief minister A K Antony, Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, I D Swami, O Rajagopal and P C Thomas, former US Senator Larry Pressler and Yolanda King, daughter of late Martin Luther King, offering floral tributes to Mata Amritanandamayi.
Mr Antony, who recalled his long association with the Math, assured all possible government help for the humanitarian initiatives of the Math.
He also said that Amma’s example of never uttering a word which can divide people was worth emulating.
An official souvenir, a picture book and “Colours of compassion”, a collection of paintings, were also released.
PEJAWAR SEER: Earlier in the morning, the celebrations got underway with flag-hoisting by seer Madhvacharya Vishvesha Tirtha of Pejawar Math.
For one full hour, L Subramaniam, the Guru of fusion music, and his wife Kavita krishnamurthy enthralled the congregation with their soul-stirring rendering of bhajans. Kavita’s singing of “Vaishnava jana to..” held the massive gathering in raptures.
This was followed by an inter-faith conference, “Religions embracing world for peace and harmony”, with representatives from all major religions. The thrust was on the common strand of all religions which essentially lead to one goal.
MANY FACETS OF GOD: Pejawar seer Vishvesha Tirtha set the tone by profusely congratulating Mata Amritanandamayi for her humanitarian services. He said without service of the people, worship of God will be incomplete. Different faiths can be considered different faces of God. But all religions’ goal must be the same – to spread social harmony and peace.
Rev Takeda referred to the destructive faces of religion and said all religions should help foster global solidarity. No religion preaches violence and there is an urgent need to promote inter-religious dialogue.
Shankaracharya Swamy Raghaveshwara Bharati of Sri Ramachandrapura math at Hosanagar said Mata Amritanandamayi’s contributions are akin to Adi Shankaracharya’s. She can be considered as a mother with intellectual vision of a Guru who sees divinity in every living being.
Arch Bishop of Trivandrum Cyril Mar Baselios pointed out how Christian doctrine emphasises universal human values of love and compassion.
Rabbi Leah Novick, who represents jewish renewal movement, recalled the long history of religious tolerance in Kochi, which was the home for Jews for hundreds of years.
Rev Ipe Joseph, who spoke on integration through compassionate service, said all religions can work together in areas like AIDS cure.
Dr Saleha Mahmood Abedin, sociologist and religious scholar from Pakistan, said tolerance is very central to our survival. She attributed strife in the world to abandonment of religion in many countries, leading to abuse of religions by special interest groups.
She pointed out that religion and spirituality have to come back into our lives and religious leaders have to become more proactive.