Spiritual leader Amma, "The Hugging Saint," will appear at free public sessions in Bellevue on May 31 and June 3, 2012, as part of her 26th North American world tour.

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‘The Hugging Saint’

Need a hug? Hindu spiritual leader Amma, known as “The Hugging Saint,” will begin her world tour in Bellevue this week with a retreat and two sessions open to the public.

Born Mata Amritanandamayi Devi in India, Amma (“mother”) is the founder of Embracing the World, a humanitarian organization that provides medical care and other services for the poor, as well as aid after natural disasters. In her travels, she has hugged more than 30 million people, in the belief that “if we have love and compassion in our hearts, then we will wholeheartedly serve those who suffer from lack of food, clothing and shelter.”

The free, public programs include meditation and the opportunity to receive Amma’s darshan — a blessing in the form of an embrace. 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Hyatt Regency, 900 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue. Info: http://seattlesatsang.amma.org.

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Seattle Times staff

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