Toppi Amma

Toppi Amma means mother who wears a hat which she used to wear all the time. While living in Tiruvannamalai, I saw Toppi Amma walking the streets, on Girivalam Road around the Arunachala Mountain, and at Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram. She never talks to anyone but at times mumbles something. People say its some kind of dialect or ancient Tamil she talks in.

Always overdressed in the heat of South India, summer and winter alike. She mostly wears a long skirt with a jacket and a scarf, not the traditional way of dressing for women in South India. Her clothes are always dirty but she does not care.

Toppi Amma has a very skinny body. Sometimes she eats a handful of something but not much and not often.

One day I was walking home and she was laying in the middle of the road, arms stretched out to the side. As crazy as this may appear, nothing happened to her, no accidents. Another time I saw people touching her feet, a form of respect to saints in India. She was completely unattached to such reference.

Toppi Amma always seems to be far away, somewhere inside herself, not outwardly oriented. Some say she is an avadootha, others say a siddha.

Here is a short video about her.

*Photograph of Toppi Amma by Saran Dashnamoorty

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