Love & Serve: The Devotee Volunteers
One of the names for the Divine Mother in the Sri Lalita Sahasranaama is sahasra paad “one with 1,000 feet.” The implication of this mantra is that the Divine accomplishes its good works through the multitudes of humanity. Never was this more the case than during Amritavarsham50, as 12,000 devotee-volunteers—inspired by their love for Amma—worked day and night to make the Celebrations a success.
“Everything that happened was extraordinary, and without Amma’s grace, it never would have been possible,” explained one of Amma’s brahmacharis in charge of coordinating the volunteers. He and his team spent the 45 days prior to the event making sure all the volunteers were trained in there respective jobs—everything from cooking to security to trash collection.
Clearly, it was a combination of effort and grace that enabled Amritavarsham50 to run so smoothly. The Ashram planned the logistics meticulously, but still what one saw was miraculous. For example, volunteers guided the 100,000 people around the stadium only with the help of small ropes. How was this possible? Even the most qualified management expert would doubt its feasibility.
First, the Ashram ran training camps for 250 volunteer section leaders. These trained leaders then went to their respective districts and provinces to train more volunteers.
Literally, the entire event came off due to the dedication and self-sacrifice of the devotees. The Transportation Team arranged some 2,500 buses. The Accommodation Team arranged 300 lodging centres. There were the devotees in the kitchen serving more than 100,000 people in one and a half hours, teams dealing with 50 tonnes of garbage. Those working in the IT Hub, those arranging the Summits, the Jala Mahasangamam….
Aside from Amma’s brahmacharis and brahmacharinis, the volunteer groups were comprised of Amma’s devotees from India and around the world. AYUDH (the Ashram’s Youth Wing), also played a big part. Then there were the students of all of Amma’s educational institutions.
In many ways the celebrations were like a great yagna [ritual fire worship], with the everyone in the community coming together to contribute their part for the good of the whole. The prasad was the work itself, the joy and contentment that came from knowing one had done their part to create something beautiful for Amma and for the world.