Amma's Birthday at M.A. Center, San Ramon
Amma’s Birthday Celebration at the M.A. Center, San Ramon is the largest program of the year, except for when Amma is here. It is held on the actual date of Amma’s Birth, September 27. This year, as always, it was a full day program filled with devotion, community, service and celebration.
The day was inaugurated with an Auspicious Homa Fire Ceremony for World Peace and the Harmony of Mother Nature that was performed by Bri. Remadevi, beginning at 5:30am. Many people were able to attend the Homa before going to work or school.
Next, there was a guided group practice of the Integrated Amrita Meditation, which was followed by a light breakfast.
At 10:00 am Br. Dayamrita arrived at Amrita Hall, the curtains were opened and a Pada Puja to Amma’s Ceremonial Sandals was performed. This part of the program went until noon. The Guru Stotram was chanted and bhajans were sung, including the tradition of singing, “Unarunaru,” which invites Amma to awaken within us:
Awaken, awaken, O Mother Amritanandamayi! Awaken World Mother! O Great One, wake up to awaken the world! O Supreme light, O Supreme Essence, O Thou who art subservient to supreme devotion, O Thou who resides in the temple of the heart as the golden light, deign to shine forth! After bathing, the cool breeze has kindled the light in the East and the birds are singing "OM," the primordial sound. Wake up, O Absolute Being; wake up! All hearts here are prepared to enshrine Thee. All Thy children are here who cry for Thee day and night.
After the morning program, there was a circle dance in which devotees connected with each other and with Amma. Inner and outer circles were formed and people paired up and danced in Dandiya style. But instead of using sticks as is traditional in India, people clapped hands like Amma asks us to do. After each set of beats, everyone moved to the next partner and this continued around the circle. The first dance was done to a recording of Amma singing “Bandalo” and the second to a lively Punjabi bhajan. By the end the music had gotten very fast and the group spontaneously started a joyous line dance waving their arms in the air.
Lunch was served after this and was followed by Afternoon Activities, which included: the Great Amma Pursuit trivia game, making Birthday cards for Amma, packing care bags for homeless people and eco crafts.
Then the Sri Lalitha Sahasranama Archana -1,000 Names of the Divine Mother – was chanted for World Peace from 3:30-4:30pm. This was followed by a hearty snack, sharing of Amma stories and several beautiful cultural offerings of Amma songs and classical Indian music.
The Evening Program started at 6:30pm and included Dayamrita Swami’s Birthday message and Bhajans.
After the evening program concluded with a beautiful Arati – waving of the lights, devotees moved outside for a delicious dinner and a scrumptious rich chocolate Birthday cake served with ice cream. More bhajans were sung on the temple porch while all enjoyed dinner and dessert.
Throughout the day there had been continuous chanting of the Sri Lalitha Sahasranama Archana, dedicated to the peace and happiness of all beings in all the worlds and to appease Mother Nature. There were also plenty of opportunities to offer some seva - selfless service- in celebration of the love and service that Beloved Amma embodies: veggie chopping, food moving, making Amma's Birthday cake, washing dishes, serving lunch and chai, moving tables and chairs, etc.