Picture a giant, round lollipop on a paper stick. The roadway entrance to the International Stadium begins at the bottom of the paper stick and continues in a circle around the vast stadium structure. The roadway around the actual stadium takes about 20 minutes to walk and is probably a mile in circumference. Devotees from all over the world, as well as dignitaries, cultural performers, and police and fire personnel, enter the bottom of the lollipop-stick road and make their way to the stadium, either on foot or in rickshaw, car or one of the hundreds of buses.
Imagine the stadium as the actual sweet. The outside layer of the lollipop is the stadium structure, with shops all around the exterior. The seats are the next layer, and the field, or playing ground, is the centre of our candy image
Let’s take a tour of the lollipop.
Beginning at the bottom of the lollipop stick, devotees enter through a large rectangular archway. On the left and going up the side of the stick (road) are the cloakrooms, the VIP reception area, the International Reception Area, and the Ladies Reception area. Continuing on are various exhibits: A Medical Exhibit from AIMS, an exhibit on Amma’s life and mission, a exhibit about Amma’s educational institutions, and Colours of Compassion, the art gallery of paintings inspired by Amma.
The right side of the lollipop stick begins with more practical, worldly matters. A bank, travel agent, and post office are located at the bottom of the stick. Next is an Indian Canteen and then a long area with Ashram book stalls. Devotees there can purchase all the items that we find on Mother’s tour, but the books and media are now in many Indian and Western languages.
Towards the top of the right side of the lollipop stick is the Program Hall. This is where daily events will occur. The flag especially created for the Amritavarshan50 Celebration flies at the entrance of the hall.
After the Program Hall, is the International Day Care facility and the area where the “Acharya Vandanam” will take place.
Now we enter the base of the lollipop itself through the roadway “stick.” The entrance is a replica of the front of the temple at Amritapuri. Devotees must pass through this impressive structure on their way to the stadium. On the right side of the temple is a gigantic photograph of our Amma, standing, with red garland around Her neck, arms raised above Her head in greeting to Her children.
Behind the temple is a small grassy area. This has been covered with cloth tenting to provide shade for the many devotees who spend the entire day here.
Although logically we should perhaps continue the tour moving clockwise around the lollipop, we will go counter clockwise because Amma’s Village is next. A small house has been constructed within the stadium grounds for our beloved Amma. Greenery in dozens and dozens of pots fill the tiny yard. Other support tents and structures complete the village.
Next is the Media Center where international and ashram writers and photographers work feverishly day and night to bring this event to the entire world.
The International Canteen is next with electrical and other support facilities taking up most of the right side of the stadium perimeter. Around the top of the lollipop begins the Indian Canteen, snack shops, and covered dining area for the thousands and thousands of devotees who have flocked here from all over the world. The Western Café finishes out the perimeter of our stadium tour.
The sweetness, the lollipop where Mother will exude Her love and compassion to us is the stadium itself. Surrounding the outside of the structure itself are many shops, technical services, and information and help areas On the ground floor of the stadium are private conference rooms where closed-door sessions will be held and where the dignitaries can gather.
Inside the stadium, at the top of the playing field, is the huge stage where Mother will sing bhajans with 100,000 plus devotees and give darshan every night, all night. Just as we sometimes find a special flavour buried inside a real lollipop, the physical treat of our Amma lollipop will be found here nightly.