Snap Shots of Ashram life

Amma UK
MA Centre UK
Published in
3 min readDec 27, 2023
  • By Dr Vakees Thanga

Woken up at 3am by a phone call from the monitoring service. It’s an automated voice saying the intruder alarm had been activated. No other information!

Luckily we are able to check the CCTV footage and spend some time making sure that it is safe for us to go to the hall in person. Armed with a stick Yamunah and I quickly put boots and coats on and walk over to Amrita Hall and are reassured to find that it was a false alarm, presumably a spider had activated a sensor there.

We get back and are able to sleep a few hours before the archana in Amrita Mandiram for 630am. Just as we finish the Shanti mantras the phone rings and it is ‘Little City’, the children’s play company that was supposed to get entry by 745am so that they could set up their props. We’d missed this once before, usually Nuala reminds us very promptly, and embarrassingly, had to offer a lot of sorries and tea to appease them.

Before we converted the downstairs room into the ashram office, we would start our work on our laptops in the lounge or wherever there was table space. During this time we would look at the Shopify orders, pack each order, print, cut and cellotape the address labels and take over to the post office (We are so lucky to have the post office nearby, Amma’s Grace). We have a charity business account which makes it easy.

We deal with office-related administration, post, talk to Nuala about event hire, first viewings booked for the day, our community engagement work, whatsapp messages from MAC directors and the groups and try to chant our mantras and keep to the sadhana schedule.

We get a call from Dimbleby (real name withheld) saying that last night’s event (a 1st birthday party) was noisy particularly with kids screaming outside. Oddly, 1st birthday parties seem the noisiest of all hires! Well, we had this before and had put in place restrictions to reduce noise nuisance, sound limiters, acoustic fire doors, sometimes hiring security (yes security!) to monitor for, not alcohol or drugs, but noisy kids!. We always have one of us as on-site caretakers, from putting out ‘No parking’ cones to stopping cars double-parking in Fair Acres and blocking traffic, welcoming the decorators, informing the rules, such as the recycling, the need to keep doors locked and monitoring them setting up including, with trepidation, their sound systems!

Although we only allow alcohol for toasting, sometimes people drink in their cars and smoke some odd stuff with distinctive smells too! Still, the events are mostly manageable, except, when the audio-visual system plays up, which makes my heart race as I have no idea what to do.

It is heaven if someone is visiting us at that time, usually a devotee, as I have no hesitation in shoving them into that role. By the time the party ends, we’ve been there an hour earlier encouraging them to start clearing up, stop the music, reminding them to put the rubbish into the correct bins, cleaning and coaxing all the loiterers out of the premises, as otherwise they would upset our sensitive neighbours, it would be 11–1130pm when we finally locked the gates and could breathe.

I am sure that people who have to work in the world and manage families face much harder challenges and hardships and I really bow down to their courage and perseverance.

Life at the MA Centre is however like living in Amma’s bubble of safety and comfort and is the next best thing to being in Amma’s physical presence. The little trials and tests we face here are miniscule in comparison.

Still, during the whole of that day I probably would have chanted a dozen mantras and missed the evening meditation! 😔



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