Day 21: Amma
Today the great and famous Amma came into town! This was the brochure that weird guy from Day __ gave to me and told me to go to. Well I went, and it was pretty interesting. I’d never heard of Amma but apparently she’s a really big deal. I think she could be compared to today’s Mother Teresa.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this and when Noah and I showed up we knew this was definitely a big deal in certain circles. Mostly women in long flowing colorful dresses were crowding the area. Noah was greatly intimidated by this and decided to leave. The energy of the place was overwhelming and tangible. There was a line for receiving hugs from Amma, who is called the “hugging saint” at times.
While we waited for her to show up a video played talking about her charitable endeavors. It showed her hugging countless people and the way she hugged every one of them as if they were her own children was amazing! This woman had been everywhere! I was beginning to get really excited about this. There was a meditation session before Amma began her “Darshan” (hugs), the man who guided us was fine and all, but the speakers were much too loud and whenever he spoke I almost jumped.
The event was taking place in a grand ballroom with half of the ballroom being filled with vendors. The vendors were for charities, selling lots of New Age stuff like jewelry, clothing, crystals, herbs, incense, soaps, massages and the like. The prices were incredibly outrageous. I ended up spending $30 on some Tulasi (sacred herbs), a pendulum thing, and a massage.
The pendulum is supposed to give me answers about my chakras and life. It’s made out of agate which apparently acts as “A gate” to the spirit realm. The vendor told me to either bury it foot deep in earth for a week or soak it in salt for a day or 2 (he suggested I bury it but I don’t really have enough time for that).
The herbs have been blessed by Amma herself. According to the vendor there tulasi adapts to your body and heals it accordingly. Sounded pretty good to me, and at only $3 for 8 grams didn’t seem like an unreasonable price (compared to the $20 t-shirts that just had the Om symbol on them!) so I got them. I think I’ll put some leaves in my medicine bag.
What? It’s not like I’m smoking them!
Noah had to leave me there so I was wandering alone for hours before my turn to see Amma. It made me really depressed walking alone the whole time with nothing to do except read brochures and buy stuff. When it finally came time to see Amma I was really nervous. I initially imagined I would get to talk to her, but as I got closer I began to see that the process was much more formal than I thought it would be. There was a crowd of people surrounding her and they were there to keep things moving.
As I got closer I got to see Amma hug others. I was looking forward to the hug; her face seemed so sincerely loving. Sometimes while she hugged people the helpers/entourage would talk to her and they would hold a conversation which was the only thing that put me off a bit.
It was finally my turn, the people surrounding Amma had their hands all over me; guiding me through absolutely everything. They pushed me towards her, pushed my head in her lap, Amma chanted something, then as the pulled me to my feet I was handed this:
That’s right. 2 flower petals and a Hersey’s kiss while be forcefully and mercilessly pushed out of the way for the next number. The hug felt brief and… not special. After all the hype I was incredibly disappointed. I mean a Hershey’s Kiss?? Why not something meaningful and relevant to the theme of giving or something. I’ve never felt so heavily disregarded, so easily pushed away to be forgotten! The experience overall was a negative one, one that enforced my belief that I didn’t belong here, that New Age wasn’t who I was.
I can’t have faith in something like that; I can’t believe a hug will make me better and then when it doesn’t do anything I definitely can’t make myself believe it did. I felt this terrible frustration and bitterness. The whole day seemed to conspire against me!
When Noah came to pick me up and I told him of my experience he made a great point about the whole thing: what if all the hype was to get people to donate more money to Amma’s numerous charities? What if that was how she raised her money? Remembering the 20 dollar bills in the donation jar and all the hype around it made me see his point. I didn’t know whether or not I should feel proud of their genius or outraged by the scam.
we went home and watched Firefly, a show all of our friends told us years ago we needed to watch. It was cheating but I needed it and I’m glad I did it. It lightened my crappy mood plus I got to spend time with Noah.
I also had some tofu BBQ, my mom made it so I don’t have the recipe