I would like to share the blessings Amma gave me after partaking in my first Adi Pooram festival in Mel Maruvathur.
To understand the significance and value of Amma's blessing I need to first describe the hurdles Amma put in front of me almost one year before this. And to be honest with you it was not until these hurdles did I begin to have a true devotion to Amma. This is itself I consider to be a blessing on its own in bringing me closer to Amma.
First hurdle was a very traumatic time in my life, when my wife had decided to leave me. Felt like my world had turned upside down. And to make matters worse, and one of the unfortunate aspects of our community, gossip and rumours spread that reflected poorly towards my respect to women. Sadly a few Sakthi's within the Mundram I attended, were also spreading these rumours. Though never said to me and as invalid as most of them were, I did feel ashamed to bring my face to Mundram, a place of worship where Amma gives priority & respect to women. Even though I had really good support from my immediate family through the hurdles I was facing, I felt Amma was all I had to get through this. And so as uncomfortable as it was, I would at least attend for a little while every week.
Next hurdle then came early the following year where I became unemployed. Employment market was down, outsourcing was becoming common and the Global Financial Crisis had started. I was unemployed for almost 5 months. It was very scary financially during this time, but even through that hurdle, Amma still ensured that i met my loan obligations and kept me afloat. It also gave me time to reflect on the errors made on my behalf through my marriage & what I needed to change with myself to be a better person.
Also during this time Sakthi Sharengan was in close contact with me. He advised me to be more proactive with Mundram activities and do more thondhu for Amma. And so slowly tried to be more involved. During this time also Sakthi Sharengan mentioned about going to Adi Pooram, but partaking in a way different to the normal procedures (will explain later). I too then began to have the same desire to go with him. But being unemployed, I didn't know how financially possible this was going to be.
That very week a one month contract was advertised, but its duration was when Adi Pooram was. Regardless, I had a phone interview which went well and I requested that i have that week off to go on leave. I still remember the interviewer laughing at me at such request, given the duration of the contract and he refused to offer me the contract. I felt a little sad on the outcome as i had felt I may have missed an opportunity. But with Amma's blessing, the interviewer called me the following week saying that they could not find anyone else to fill the role. they offered me the position with the leave as requested. I was overjoyed and so grateful to Amma.
So I left Melbourne for my first Adi Pooram experience in Mel Maruvathoor. This experience is one that not many will have the opportunity in doing. A local mundram in chennai organised going from Chennai to Mel Maruvathoor by foot (Paatha Yaatra). By the time I had reached India, I joined them where there was about another 60km to go. It was such a beautiful experience where you really enjoy the simple things in life. Once the sun would begin setting, We would walk on the road, barefoot carrying the Kanji Pots on our heads till we reached our next stopping point for the day. The first stage of the walk I must admit did take its toll where I ended up with blisters on my feet. Sakthi Prakash's Amma who at the time was one of the organisers, but we had never met prior to this and she had no idea who i was at the time. But seeing my blisters at the next stop, without even a thought, sat me down and began to rub & massage crushed veppam illa paste on my feet and told me to rest. It really helped and I never had any other issues through the rest of the journey. During these stops you talk to the sakthis and hear all these wonderful experiences about Amma, these stops are also very simple halls to eat and rest. I remember one of the stops we rested at for the night was a hall in the middle of the farm land. So to get ready the next morning we had to bathe from pipes in the middle of these lush green farm lands. These are things you only see in movies. Walking with so many beautiful & caring Sakthis, such beautiful weather and such simplicities, its very hard to put this experience in words.
Whenever I go to Mandram, I always look at the middle photo of Amma praying infront of the Amman idol and wish i could see that in real life. This for me was the highlight once we reached Mel Maruvathoor. There sitting inside the karuvarai was Amma next to the Amman Idol. It really is beautiful to see this in person. With that blessing I offered my first Kanji to Amma in Mel Maruvathoor.
Amma's rewards started that night itself. Some other Sakthis from Australia had also come to Mel Maruvathoor for Adi Pooram. And once we had finished praying for the day we all went back to our rooms to rest. But before sleeping, we gathered in one room to talk about Amma and experiences. This initially was uncomfortable for me as many of them were female sakthis, and that too from the Mundram i attend. But even then I had not talked to them before, especially given the situation I was in. But that night they introduced themselves to me and made me feel comfortable. And was really touched that night when they started calling me "Anna" - Big Brother. This may seem common to many, but from the place I was the year before to that day, it was a 180 degree turn. And for me that was a blessing from Amma. Even to this day I've been given the same respect. Also after coming back to Australia, most of the Sakthi's responsible for the rumours also eventually stopped coming to Mundram, which really helped me feel more comfortable. That Navarathri I was further blessed to have the opportunity to light the Aghandam. Today Mundram my second home & family.
With relation to my employment, Amma also blessed me further. My contract was extended for another month. Also after coming back an agent called me for a job that was not advertised, but had come from an internal contact. I was the only candidate he put forward. I really felt this was from Amma. I attended the interview and after Navarthri I was offered the position, where I stayed for 3+ years. Today i sit back and think about those 5 months where I was unemployed, and I feel Amma gave me this time off to relax, reflect, to give me some peace of mind, and to change myself to a better person through what I had gone through.
This has been my Adi Pooram experience, and that too being in Mel Maravathoor. I hope it will inspire others to partake in future Adi Pooram festivals.
A.M.M.A Mandram Devotee (Anonymous)