‘My daughter, my daughter, my daughter,’ she says over and over in my ear.
I’m lost in the lap of something so much bigger than I am, and I rest there. All I can see is the folds of her white robe as I’m overwhelmed with the permeating scent of roses, which are everywhere. And then I’m falling out of the hug, as her attendants pull me back to put the next person in, pressing rose petals and strangely, a Hershey’s kiss into my hand.
I was charged with the energy of that hug for days after, hearing her words in my ear–‘My daughter, my daughter, my daughter.’
Once a year Amma, India’s hugging saint, comes to town. She arrives at a large hotel in Albuquerque that can accommodate the thousands who come for a hug, as crazy as that might sound. When you arrive, you remove your shoes, are organized into groups, given your hug number, fed and are presented with all kinds of memorabilia to buy, from photographs to clothes. While you wait for your group to be called, you listen to Indian music, are strewn with rose petals, watch multiple large-screen videos of Amma’s good works around the world, and look at everyone else who has come.
It all moves along smoothly. She and her team are experts at this–after all, she’s hugged more than 30 million people world wide, royalty and celebrities included.
When your group is called, you join a double line of people, in chairs, gradually moving forward, like musical chairs. Up ahead, Amma is dressed all in white, sitting on a sort of low throne, hugging people, one after another—families with babies, the old, the infirm, young people, people speaking different languages. When you’re finally next in line, her attendants move you to your knees a few feet from her, asking you what language you speak.
You’re sort of dropped into a tight group of front line attendants, dressed in yellow robes, who are plunging people into Amma’s lap and then dragging them out, in a claustrophobic frenzy. You’re in a feel-good, out-of-body daze as you’re pulled out.
At first I thought that wonderful feeling was from her, from what she has. After the third hug, I began to believe that we generate it together. She calls it forth, and what I feel is my soul answering.
Photo: Erode, Tamil Nadu, Monday, January 12, 2015