'Hugging Saint' Shares Love in Alexandria

Amma is in the midst of her 26th summer tour of North America

By Erika Gonzalez
|  Friday, Jul 6, 2012  |  Updated 6:58 PM EDT
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Over the weekend, up to 10,000 people are expected to visit Alexandria to meet Amma, the

Erika Gonzalez

Over the weekend, up to 10,000 people are expected to visit Alexandria to meet Amma, the "Hugging Saint."

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She's a spiritual leader and humanitarian dubbed the "the hugging saint."

Amma is in the midst of her 26th summer tour of North America and that includes a stop in Alexandria. People have traveled from all over to see her.

It begins with a token or number to get into the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center. Then they sit and wait, take their shoes off and prepare to receive their darshan, or blessing

Some followers choose to bring a gift, but Amma will give all a sweet token.

"I am just overwhelmed with grace and I hope I'm able to share it with others," said David Wachtar, who came from Altuna, Pa.

People like David have come with high expectations, but others were more unsure.

"I didn't know what to expect because it was my first experience," said Barabara Gilliam, who was encouraged to meet Amma in an effort to spur up her own faith. She describes the tender moment.

"She just felt warm; there was something that kind of passed through her, just a nice tight hug of love."

Amma says me her religion is love, and that she doesn't believe in a God who sits on a throne, but rather that all living beings are her God and she believes in serving them.

Over the past 40 years she claims to have embraced 32 million people. Before the weekend is up, an estimated 710,000 people will receive a hug from Amma.

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