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India's Hugging Saint Visits Washington Area

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By Cathy Carter

Over the past three decades, one woman from India has embraced more than 30 million people. That number is growing this weekend in Alexandria, Virginia.

On a typical day, Amma leads a meditation followed by a blessing that in her case, comes in the form of a hug. People from across the region have been lining up for one all weekend.

"She's helped me a lot with having compassion and patience, for myself and for other people, and just reminding us of what life is really about," says Sheena Washington from Annapolis, Maryland.

She calls Amma her spiritual guide.

Her friend Edith Billips came to one of Amma's annual Washington area visits six years ago. She's returned every year since.

"She gives these wonderful talks on peace and love and you have these wonderful meditations and that's what brings me back," she says. "I love to be in that energy."

Also known as the "hugging saint," Amma's local visit continues through tonight at The Mark Center Hilton in Alexandria.

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