Amma delivers thousands of hugs in Toronto

The international humanitarian and spiritual leader, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, has embraced millions of people worldwide, returned to Toronto this month. Commonly known as “Amma,” meaning mother, she offered darshan, a spiritual blessing in the form of a physical motherly embrace. Thousands of Greater Toronto Area residents experienced one of her world-famous hugs over three days at DoubleTree by Hilton near Pearson International Airport.

For 25 years, Amma has travelled the globe for her marathon hugging sessions, in which she sits for as many as 30 hours to receive everyone who comes to her. She has hugged more than 31 million people, the near-equivalent of the entire population of Canada.

As a young girl in an isolated village in southern India, Amma began collecting food scraps to feed the hungry. Today her charity, Embracing the World, is a far-reaching organization that operates in 30 countries. Its projects include free medical care, orphanages, environmental protection, slum renovation, elderly care homes and youth scholarships. Amma Canada is the local chapter of Embracing the World, registered as a Canadian charity. Volunteers in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Victoria serve their communities through initiatives such as soup kitchens, elder care, tree planting, park clean-ups and care for at-risk youth