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_ All guests and devotees of the ashram are expected to do a minimum of 2 hours of seva or volunteer work while visiting or staying for extended periods.  Seva in Amma's words is "selfless service".  During our week long stay at the ashram, I did quite a variety of 2 hour services for the community.  It is very organized which is necessary because we are told there are about 5,000 permanent residents or renounciates as they are called.  This number can almost double with visitors during busy times of the year.  Providing and running such a large community requires a very efficient system of organizing and scheduling. 
     The next morning after arriving we all go to the "Seva" desk.  Here a person gives you a list of various jobs that are needed to be filled for the days ahead which are accessed through the ashrams computer network.   As guests we can then choose which jobs we arinterested in and are capable of doing.  Most jobs are menial, grunt jobs that are necessary to keep the ashram functioning.  For example . . .

_one of the first jobs I was given was to be a dish towel "wringer".  The job description requires someone with strong hands that could wring out wet dish towels at the dish drying area after supper.  I sign up and later in the day after supper, I am shown exactly what is required of me.  Basically I make sure that the dish towels everyone is using to dry their dishes are not soaking wet, if they are wet I wring them out and hang them up again.  Pretty basic stuff.
     The best part of seva was meeting different devoutees and visitors in the ashram.  I meet a number of people and discover their motivations for being at the ashram and their journeys in India.  I meet Sylvia from Argentina, who now lives in Miami and is a yoga instructor.  I meet Shirley from Courtney, BC who has been following Amma since 2001.  She owned a fair trade store in Courtney that she has now sold.  She is very politically involved in Canada and we have great conversations while we doing our seva.  I really enjoy contributing and meeting people during these times.
     Other sevas I did throughout the week included, deep cleaning our own room we were given, cleaning a dorm room, moving mattresses from various rooms back into storage, helping mop up the eating area, sweeping the front entrance to the temple and helping to chop vegetables.

10/21/2013 12:57:56 pm

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