Mata Amritanandamayi, popularly known as the ‘Hugging Saint or Amma’ will deliver an address in Shanghai, China, the epicentre of modern communism, as part of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNOAC) conference on Thursday and Friday.
This will be the first visit of the religious leader to the communist country. The conference, which is an initiative of the United Nations, was launched in 2005 by its former secretary-general Kofi Annan.
Its focus is to improve mutual understanding and cooperation between nations, cultures and religions, while helping to counter forces that fuel polarisation and extremism.
The event is jointly organised by the UNAOC and the UN Association of China, and co-hosted by Shanghai UN Research Association and Shanghai Zhongdao Group in partnership with Fudan University, Peking University, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University (Australia) and International Movement for a Just World (Malaysia).
During the past three decades, Mata Amritanandamayi has conducted programmes throughout the world, including in the United States, South America, Europe, Canada, Africa, Japan, Australia, the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Reunion Island and Russia.
For nearly 20 years, Mata Amritanandamayi has been a regular keynote speaker at international forums concerned with world peace and religious harmony.
She has addressed the Parliament of World’s Religions twice, spoke at the International Celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations in New York, the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the UN in Geneva, and at the Summit of the Global Peace Initiative of Women in Jaipur, as well as at many other international fora.
At each of these, Mata Amritanandamayi has taken the opportunity to share her vision of the way humanity can traverse the difficult road ahead — navigating from interreligious discord to harmony; from terrorism to peace; from competition between the sexes to mutual trust and co-operation; from war between nations to a collective war on poverty, and from environmental chaos to the restoration of nature’s balance.