How I did it: I checked Amma's website to see when she was visiting my area and actively chose to go to her darshan. I arrived early, 2 hours before her scheduled entry, and got in line for a darshan token. I was in the first group, A1, and was ushered into the darshan hall around 9. We received tokens and then moved to new seats. I was very impressed with the volunteers who helped organize the event. It went very smoothly. The hall was filled with chairs at the front and stalls at the back. I walked around after getting my token and looked at the beautiful objects for sale, silk sarees, medicinal soaps, sacred jewelry, dolls, anything you could imagine. Before returning to my seat, I bought a deep purple peony to give to Amma as an offering. Coconuts, mangoes, flower garlands, and bouquets were available for purchase as well.
I sat down just before Amma's scheduled arrival. Her devotees, or children as she calls them, laid out saree cloth and ritual objects to bless her feet and herself upon entry. I had a seat in the front row and many people were sitting on the ground around me and bowing down as she walked by to take her seat at the top of the hall. She put out her hands as she walked by so we could all touch her. Her hands were dry and soft.
Her head devotee then led an amazing guided meditation that lasted for 10 or 15 minutes. He had a beautiful voice and knew just how to use it. After the meditation the darshan began. Amma's darshan is, to put it simply, a hug. Her children kneel before her and she embraces them and whispers in their ears before giving them a blessed chocolate and flower petal. I was in the first group and maybe the 5 or 6th person to be hugged. I knelt before her and then a handler pushed my head down into her breast for a hug. She whispered in my ear and rocked me back and forth. It was freeing and full of love and emotion. I found tears rolling down my eyes when I was released.
After my darshan I sat in a row of people perpendicular to Amma and just basked in the glow. I sat there for a bit and then went off to check out the stalls and the cafe. I was extremely hungry so I ate the vegetarian Indian meal provided. It was heavenly. I started with Masala Chai before filling myself with puri, chickpea curry, califlower and eggplant bhajis, and samosas. I had an Indian sweet as well and it was so deliciously dense I thought my stomach would burst.
After lunch I walked through the stalls and purchased some souvenirs. I bought a hoodie, a white cotton scarf, 2 pictures of Amma herself, and a handmade mini Amma doll. I was lucky enough to discover that Amma would bless the doll if I brought it up to her and she did! After the shopping I just sat and watched the devotees who were up on the stage performing traditional Hindu chants and playing instruments. A group of children came up and they sang as well. There was clapping and dancing and more chanting from the audience, it was lovely. After the children, there was a group of teenagers who sang and then gave a dance performance which was fantastic to watch.
After that, the morning darshan was nearly at its end. The sign that alerted the next group to get in line for darshan was at Z3 and the crowd was dwindling. I decided to grab my shoes that I left outside for the duration of the darshan and go home.
I had a wonderful time and would definitely return for another darshan and perhaps her Devi Bhava puja. The energy and atmosphere of the day was empowering and happy. I never saw one person get angry, shout, or even frown. I felt full, full of love. Read how I did it… 4 years ago