Do Amma’s Hugs Make a Difference?

Today’s New York Times has an interesting piece on Amma a.k.a. Mātā AmritanandamayÄ« Devi  and originally as Sudhamani.

Amma, who hails from the South Indian state of Kerala, is also known as the Hugging Saint, a reference to this oddball’s penchant for hugging people.

According to the NYT story, the 54-year-old Amma hugged over 8,000 people on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York City.

If you think hugging 8,000 people in two days is a big deal, in India Amma is said to hug up to 50,000 people in a 20-hour session.

Amma’s followers told the Times that the lady has hugged 27 million people. Well, that’s certainly one for the Guiness Book.

Call us cynical – but do hugs really make a difference?

Can hugs change the world?

Is Amma a case of obsessive compulsive disorder gone too far?

We remain skeptical of the efficacy of this hugging business but even more disturbing was Amma’s weird comment to the NYT:

For me there is no difference between materialism and spirituality; they are one and the same.

[N]o difference between materialism and spirituality?

Is this woman serious? Does this hugger even understand what she’s talking?

One thing’s for sure. No other country produces as many colorful personalities as India.

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