It was a hot and humid July day in Toronto a few years ago and Amma was visiting for the first time. The famous ‘hugging saint’ of India, reputed to be an incarnation of the great Goddess Kali, has reportedly hugged 27 million people in the world. 27 million! How does one person hug 27 million people in a lifetime?? My friend Elizabeth and I decided this was our chance to see what Amma was all about.
(Amma casts a wide and palpable Samadhi. Several days before I went to see her I felt a very different, very high vibration as I meditated. As I sat with it, I felt like I was receiving Shakti and then I realized that Amma had just arrived in town. I was already tapping into her field even before I was in her presence. It didn’t matter that we were in a city of 4 million people. It didn’t matter that she was clear across town from where I was. I knew I was feeling her. Or maybe Her. It was extraordinary.)
The event was being held in a hotel in Mississauga and we were warned to get there early as many people would be there. I didn’t quite know what to expect but was surprised when we arrived around 6 p.m. to see long lines of people snaking throughout the parking lot. We were given tickets and told to listen out for our numbers to be called throughout the evening.
The air was abuzz with a sparkly, joyful feeling. Everyone around was happy and excited to be seeing Amma. It felt like we’d stumbled into a serene, cosmic party with fairy dust sprinkled everywhere.
The line moved out of the parking lot and into one of the hotel ballrooms. At this first staging area we were able to sit on the floor, joining a few hundred others. After 3 hours or so we were moved into another ballroom where we were fed some delicious Indian vegetarian food. This ballroom had a jumbo screen showing the happenings in the main event ballroom where Amma had finally arrived. We watched as all of the people in the main ballroom bowed their heads as she passed. Sanskrit devotional songs to the Divine Mother blared over the loud speakers and we all joined in the chanting. Amma was dressed all in white with flowers in her hair. She was tiny and a posse of escorts and assistants flanked her at all sides.
When we finally moved into the main ballroom it must have been around 1 a.m. People were seated in back rows and moved up the rows as their numbers were called. All night the chanting went on. I drank some coffee but the buzz from the shakti was like a natural caffeine high, keeping everyone energized.
At 5.30 a.m., we made it to the front of the room where people were shown how to get on their knees and approach Amma one by one. I had to take my glasses off. No glasses were allowed near the hugging saint.
I approached the stage on my knees, crept up the few steps and waited my turn for my hug. The force field around the stage was truly like nothing I’d ever felt before – like a giant magnetic field of energy emanating from the aura of this little Indian woman.
Finally, it was my turn and my heart was beating loudly when I reached her on my knees. She grabbed me around my head, pulling my ear to her mouth. She whispered the words: “MA, MA, MA, MA, MA, MA, MA,” right into my ear and then thrust some Hershey kisses into my hand.
In seconds it was over and I was being escorted off the stage. In shock.
Blissed out and in shock, Elizabeth and I stumbled out of the hotel ballroom and drove home as dawn was breaking over the eastern horizon of Lake Ontario. Laughing and singing all the way home. We had made it. We had endured the all-night love-fest that is Amma and triumphantly received our hugs – a cosmic, indescribable, happy, divine hug. I reached home, took a quick shower and went to work, blessed by Ma Kali Herself. Jai Ma!