Spiritual Leader Hands Out Hugs | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Spiritual Leader Hands Out Hugs

Play associated audio
An Indian spiritual leader is drawing thousands of people into an Alexandria ballroom for a hug.
Markette Smith
An Indian spiritual leader is drawing thousands of people into an Alexandria ballroom for a hug.

Tightly packed into every corner of the 10,000-square-foot ballroom of the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, people from all walks of life wait patiently for an embrace from the woman many call the Hugging Saint.

The woman is smiling, radiating, with her arms wide open. She is known as "Amma," which means mother in several languages. And although she has no children, she is world-renowned for her motherly hugs. First-time hugger Tracy Stevens says she was curious, so she decided to drive down from Rockville.

"I came here sort of with a beginner's mind," she says. "No expectations, and it was beautiful. I felt very held."

Jordan Casale of Bethesda has been hugged before, and is back for more.

"Just such an incredible gift I think you can give to your fellow human, just a hug from a stranger," says Casale.

The hugs come with a gift, usually an apple or some sort of candy. Once embraced by the Hugging Saint, many say they can feel healing powers beaming through her touch.

Not a believer? Greg Marzullo, of Rockville, says that's OK. "Whether you believe that or not I think is irrelevant, but the fact that someone will hug people for sometimes 22 hours at a time without a break is all the proof of overarching love that I need."

Amma arrived in Virginia early Friday morning and will hug until she leaves Saturday evening. When asked what her mission is, she says -- through a translator -- it's to spread love.

The event runs entirely on donations, which the recently hugged seem more than happy to give. The non-profit organization behind the embraces does quite well for itself. Three years ago, it purchased the Potomac estate of Sargent and Eunice Shriver. They also donate to charities around the world.

NPR

'Halt And Catch Fire' Explores What It Was Like For Women In '80s Tech

Mackenzie Davis, lead actress in the AMC show, says she's more interested in the story of an underdog woman than of a "damaged, white, middle-class male figuring out his dreams."
WAMU 88.5

To Help Fight World Hunger, You Can Overeat At José Andrés' 'Dine-N-Dash'

On June 9, 17 restaurants in Penn Quarter will take part in the Dine-N-Dash, an event to help José Andrés' nonprofit World Central Kitchen fight hunger across the globe.
NPR

GOP's Presidential Field Has Something For Everyone And It's Growing

The GOP field of candidates for president is big — and its getting bigger. This week two more Republicans joined the race — bringing the number of official Republican hopefuls to 8.
NPR

New Season Of 'Halt And Catch Fire' Is A Welcomed Upgrade

AMC's show Halt and Catch Fire chronicles the dawn of the PC-era at a time when companies like Texas Instruments dominated the Silicon Prairie. The second season debuts Sunday.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.