Amma, the Deity Who Bewitches the Crowds

One of a kind, spreading hugs and love to millions

In these times which are more turbulent than ever, more and more of us are feeling a growing need to reconnect with our inner happiness... So what is the story about Amma (Mia) and her hugging empire?

It is no longer needs to be demonstrated that hugs make you happy, it's a proven thing. The benefits of hugs are numerous, and we can only invite you to abuse them a little, a lot, even madly! But did you know that there is a woman in the world who can, in a single day, distribute no less than 20,000 HUGS? So then, who is this exceptional Indian sage who embraces people and distributes her unconditional love throughout the world? And, above all, for whom everyone is prepared to wait for hours? And what does she teach with her hugs? (Hugs are known to be a powerful anti-stress antidote, so imagine the hugging power of a woman whose job it has been to hug for years!)

Some refer to her as the hugging empire, while others position her as the hugging multinational and others again the hugging saint. But, who is this woman who, to date, has collected no less than 40 million hugs around the world? Who is this woman who has made the hug her trademark and for whom thousands of people flock to each performance for those precious seconds in Amma's arms? For 38 years, the mahatma has travelled the world to embrace those who are suffering.
And yet in many countries, evoking Amma without appearing as a fanatic, is a difficult task… This lack of open-mindedness is such a pity! Obviously, certain countries with a Catholic tradition find it difficult to understand what a traditional Indian guru is, and view this as being a sectarian practice... Which is not the case for Amma.

This is why in this article, we have the honor to introduce you to Amma, whom we qualify as the priestess of love and hugs. Every year, Mata Amritanandamayi travels the world to convey her message of peace and love.
Celebrated by the media around the world, honored by the United Nations, invited by Pope Francis, the Indian mahatma (“Great soul” in Sanskrit), who made Love her religion, continues to attract the crowds. Amma attracts international recognition through getting prestigious invitations, an anthology of entwined personalities in search of exoticism or comfort. Amma inspires artists and rubs shoulders with the world's greatest leaders through her chain of hugs at mass events. Among the celebrities who have been hugged are Steven Segall, Isabelle Adjani, Nick Nolte and Sharon Stone. Jan Kounan’s film “Darshan: The Embrace,” honors Amma and the famous Darshan ceremony. Her fame has enabled her to deliver speeches at several official conferences, such as at the UN in 1995 and 2000. All of her humanitarian commitments and efforts in favor of interreligious dialogue have been honored by the Gandhi-King prize for non-violence in 2002 in Geneva, and in 2006 by the fourth James Morton Interreligious Prize, in New York. She is now at the head of one of the largest networks of charities in India, the NGO “Embracing the World”, which she created, and which has enjoyed consultative status with the UNO Economic and Social Council since 2005. Amma has also constructed over 47,000 houses for the homeless throughout India.

The story of a "Mahatma", a great soul
One single religion; the religion of Love. One single gesture, the darshan.
You are probably wondering where this woman comes from, and what all these people around the world expect from a single 10-second hug and especially, who is there around this magical embrace?
She is called Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi "mother of immortal bliss". But just call her Amma. She is considered in her country as Mahatma: a great soul.
Amma was born in 1953 to a poor fishing family in Kerala, southern India. The legend says that "already when she was small, coming from a poor family, she took food from her house to distribute it to the poorest".
Sudhamani, as Amma was called then, stood out, even when she was a little girl.
Amma found the way to meditation and devotion alone without anyone teaching her, helping the poorest people from her childhood onwards, hugging people who were strangers to her, to comfort them. Her father told a famous magazine a few years ago that for a child of her age, Amma was very atypical and very difficult to pin down. She sang all the time, and her songs were of exceptional depth and wisdom.

Amazingly well organised embracing days 
Everything revolves around the story of a holy grail: the darshan. Enjoying the most famous hug in the world has to be earned: going to bed late (or getting up very early) and waiting for hours.
After taking their ticket, each person meditates on the chairs which are placed in front of Amma. Of course, in India and in the Ashrams, this happens differently. The wait to receive a "positive energy hug" can be a long one, but believe me, nobody complains.
Everyone has an unfailing admiration for this woman and receiving Amma's Darshan is one of the main reasons for the visit of visitors.
Darshan means "to behold a deity or a divine person." In fact, many people believe that Amma is the reincarnation of a deity. Darshan is the moment when Amma takes you in her arms, it is very furtive and very fast but if you want to ask her a question, ask her for a blessing, or a piece of advice, she will take the time to answer you.
“Love is an essential need of life. In reality, it is love that sustains life. Human beings are born to experience love. That's what everyone is looking for. If you receive it, then you have everything”. This is how Amma expresses herself when asked to explain the action of Darshan.

But then what happens next?
Some bear witness to this encounter as “a pause in time”, “a grace”, “a mystery,” “an illuminating light”.

Testimony of Tanya: "It is difficult to give you feedback and to put words on one’s personal feelings. I think everyone experiences it differently, personally I felt invested with new energy and completely connected. I felt overwhelmed with kindness and love, and I can say that yes, hugs have powers!  In any case, this woman is extraordinary.”

As you will have understood, Amma spreads an uninterrupted flow of love to those that she takes in her arms during darshan. To date, she has hugged nearly 40 million people and continues, despite travel issues and health rules, to teach love. In 2023, we all hope, she will resume her visits and her world tour, alternating between hours of darshan and hours of teaching.