There’s a piece in today’s New York Times by Jake Halpern about Mata Amritanandamayi (that’s her above), known to her followers as Amma, or Mother, who is an Indian holy woman and a serial hugger. To date she has apparently embraced at least 30 million people, thereby spreading spiritual comfort and joy.
The hugs are free - she’s been known to hug 50,000 people in a single, continuous 20-hour session - but of course contributions are welcome. She’s used them to build a “mega-ashram” as well as to finance hospitals, orphanages, housing projects, and other good works.
Halpern also reports that Amma has performed miracles, including diverting a storm, and turning water into (wait for it) pudding. This is not as immediately impressive as turning water into wine, but in India I suppose there are other priorities. According to the United Nations, India is home to about 25 percent of the world's hungry poor, and according to the Indian government’s own figures, around 43 per cent of children under the age of five are malnourished. I suppose you have to start somewhere; so why not with pudding? Halpern doesn’t say what kind of pudding, but not black pudding, I expect.
Of course, there’s always something funny about the word pudding, and I find it pretty much impossible to think of pudding without thinking of Lenny in the Simpsons, “Ow, my eye. I’m not supposed to get pudding in my eye.”
But I only just found this, a product featuring, and endorsed by, Sylvester Stallone. It looks miraculous to me. It's not about money. It never is, is it?