Amritapuri resounded with joy as devotees and dignitaries from around the world came together to celebrate Amma’s 70th birthday. Tens of thousands of people attended the festivities that took place at the Amrita University Campus October 2-3.
“Amma has often indicated a disinclination towards her ‘birthday’ and the related celebrations. Amma’s way is to view everyone as equal and to love and serve them. As far as Amma is concerned, there is no greater celebration or enjoyment than that,” she began in her 70th birthday message at the formal event on October 3—the day of her birth star, Karthika.
“However, Amma is overjoyed to see all her children together here after the Covid-19 pandemic. This is not just a physical reunion. Amma can palpably see and feel the union of hearts here, with the love of my children spilling over and merging into a flowing river.”
Amma’s way is to view everyone as equal and to love and serve them. As far as Amma is concerned, there is no greater celebration or enjoyment than that,”Amma
Amma focused on the importance of love, selflessness and unity. Emphasising the need for good actions, living in harmony, and respect for nature, she encouraged individuals to recognise their inner potential, control their thoughts and actions, and cultivate patience. She expressed concerns about youth’s exposure to negative influences and stressed the role of parents in imparting values.
“Every calamity—be it a pandemic, natural disaster or climate change—urges humankind to cultivate three things: cooperation, companionship, and communion. That is, we need to move in cooperation with our fellow human beings, in companionship with nature, and in communion with God. Failure to do so—at least a little bit—will negatively impact all our actions,” shared Amma.
The festivities commenced on October 2 with spiritual discourses and meditation sessions. Amma led an evening programme that was marked by a global peace prayer, the unveiling of research projects and centres at Amrita University, and the launch of Amma’s new international website—amma.org. We also released several new publications.
The celebrations continued at 5 a.m. the next day with a Mahaganapati Homa, and then followed with a satsang by Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri at 7 a.m. Next, well-known Malayali musician Rahul Raj and his ensemble gave a performance at 7:45 a.m.
When Amma arrived at 9 a.m., renowned film star Mohanlal sought her blessings and garlanded her. He first came to Amma as a teenager, long before his acting career began.
While addressing the formal gathering of dignitaries that began at 11 a.m., Swamiji said: “Today, on Amma’s birthday, we reflect on her enduring message about the power of giving back to society, a sentiment that resonates now more than ever.
“Amma, our beloved mother, entrusted with the mission of uplifting the world, stands as a beacon of inspiration. Her embrace knows no bounds, surpassing barriers of nationality, race, language, religion, age, or social standing. It is a universal language of love and compassion that unites us all.”
Swamiji continued, “Amma’s selfless dedication to eradicating gender discrimination has empowered countless women nationwide. Her influence even extends to the highest echelons of industry, with luminaries like Marc Benioff, the visionary CEO of Salesforce, acknowledging Amma as a frequent source of inspiration for his corporate charity. Today, as we celebrate Amma’s birthday, let us carry forward her legacy of love, compassion, and unwavering commitment to a more inclusive and compassionate world.”
The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, sent a video address. He said, “For more than three decades, I have cherished a close bond with Amma, particularly during significant moments such as the earthquake in Kutch, Gujarat. Amma’s compassionate smile and affection, then and now, continue to bring me immense joy. Moreover, over the past decade, Amma’s initiatives and influence have expanded globally, enriching the lives of countless individuals, and empowering them.”
The Prime Minister added, “Words alone cannot adequately convey the profound impact of Amma’s presence and benevolence; it must be experienced first-hand. I pray that Amma’s boundless compassion and unwavering dedication, which have positively impacted lives worldwide through her tireless service and humanitarian endeavours, may continue to flourish.”
I pray that Amma’s boundless compassion and unwavering dedication, which have positively impacted lives worldwide through her tireless service and humanitarian endeavours, may continue to flourish.Hon. Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi
As well, during this momentous occasion, Amma was honoured with the prestigious ‘World Leader for Peace and Security Award,’ jointly presented by the Boston Global Forum and the Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation. She received the award from Nguyen Anh Tuan, Co-Founder and CEO of Boston Global Forum at the event.
“Amma’s legacy is one of profound compassion and enduring dedication to spiritual and humanitarian values. She has uplifted millions by giving solace, building homes, hospitals, alongside many other projects. Her leadership as the Chair of the Civil 20 Engagement Group for India’s G20 Presidency reflects her unwavering commitment to unity, compassion and collective wellbeing,” said Nguyen Anh Tuan.
“The Boston Global Forum seeks to employ technology through values in service of humanity. We are honoured to be able to include Amma’s spiritual values into our initiatives. This brings a convergence of compassion with technology to address our global challenges. This has been exemplified by Amma’s work to set a brighter future for all. May we be guided by Amma’s principles in that regard.”
Michael Dukakis, the former Governor of Massachusetts, also sent a message saying, “We are profoundly honoured to recognise Amma as a leader for world peace and security. Her tireless efforts to promote love, compassion and global unity are truly exemplary. Amma’s legacy will continue to inspire our collective journey towards a more harmonious world.”
As part of the celebrations, Amma reaffirmed her commitment to empowering women across India. MAM’s women’s self-help group (SHG) initiative, Amrita SREE, expanded its reach to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu by 10,000 members. There are currently more than 2 lakh (200,000) women who belong to 13,500+ Self Help Groups in the country.
As well, the graduation of 5,900 women from the Ashram’s skill-training centres was announced, alongside the distribution of 3.5 lakh (350,000) saris to women under the care of the Ashram’s humanitarian projects.
As is Amma’s tradition, she led marriage rites for 54 impoverished couples. We also extended our humanitarian efforts by providing certificates for free surgeries at Amrita Hospital to 300 patients in need of kidney, liver, and heart transplants, as well as cancer treatment and other major surgeries.
One of the most touching events of the celebrations was the mixing of soil from more than 70 countries during a prayer for unity entitled “Grains of Peace”. Amma then placed a sandalwood sapling in the mixed soil so it can be planted in the Amritapuri Ashram.
In another global joining of hands, the festivities included representatives of each of the United Nations 193 member countries carrying flags in a parade before Amma to express a common vision of global love and peace.
The formal event was also graced by the presence of distinguished dignitaries, including Governor Arif Mohammed Khan of Kerala; Union Cabinet Minister Mahendra Nath Pandey; Union Ministers Ashwini Kumar Choubey and V. Muraleedharan; Deputy Speaker of Kerala’s Legislative Assembly Chittayam Gopakumar; and the opposition leader of Kerala, V.D. Satheesan.
Additionally, Amritakeerti Puraskars for the years 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 were presented to Prof. K.S. Radhakrishnan, Prof. Srivaraham Chandrasekharan Nair, Acharyasri M.R. Rajesh, and author Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa for their outstanding contributions to the philosophy and culture of Sanatana Dharma. The award duly recognises and encourages seva, even though it is done selflessly. The goal is to assist the preservation of this ancient and enduring system of human values.