Amma visited Washim, an agricultural town in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha Region, for the first time. The people had never met Amma before, but they welcomed her by filling the streets and offering their pranams as she drove past.
Vidarbha is where India’s farmer suicide problem is at its peak. Thousands upon thousands of debt-ridden farmers have taken their own lives, and often the lives of their wives and children as well. It has been reported that in 2006, farmers in Vidarbha were committing suicide at a rate of one in every eight hours.
Dressed in their simple village clothes—turbans and white hats for the men, traditional big nose ring, fluorescent green, pink and yellow saris for the women—50,000 came to seek Amma’s blessings.
Dr. Vijay P. Bhatkar, the famous computer engineer from Pune, addressed the crows just prior to Amma’s arrival. He said to them, “Jagadamba has come to Vidarbha. You must all now take a vow that you will not commit suicide. You must take this vow on Jagadamba’s feet, which have now touched your soil.”
Everyone enthusiastically shouted forth in accord, many raising their arms into the air and calling out Amma’s name.
On the dais stood 17 Members of the Legislative Assembly and seven Members or Parliament, representing diverse political parties. They all humbly welcomed Amma with flower garlands and stayed throughout Amma’s satsang and bhajans.
Smt. Prabha Rao, the president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, was one of those to address the people assembled. She said, “We are fortunate that Amma’s feet have blessed the land of Vidarbha.” She also spoke about the immense relief program that Amma has created to curb India’s farmer-suicide epidemic and helped Amma distribute scholarships to children of impoverished farmers from the area who had previously been forced to discontinue their educations due to their parents’ inability to pay school fees.
The leader of the opposition, Sri. Baba Saheb was also on the dais, and he similarly helped distribute scholarships.
Between the stage program and darshan, Amma distributed 5,000 such certificates throughout the night.
Darshan lasted until 10 am the next morning, with Amma blessing a large sack full of prasad to be distributed to latecomers.