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Living saint brings healing hugs to Southland

June 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A spiritual leader has returned to Southern California. The hugging saint, who also goes by "Amma", is considered a living saint in her native India.The woman whose hugs can move people to tears started her work as a teenager. She says her happiness and sorrow meet the emotions of other people, like two waves merging.

It's estimated that Amma has given 30 million hugs to people around the world.

"She encourages people to go deeper into their own faith, really, to be better Christians, to be better Muslims, to be better Jews. The core of all those religions are the same. They basically are about compassion, and that's what she's exemplifying here," said Rob Sidon, who was organizing an event for Amma.

Amma's hugs are given for free, but many people do leave donations.

She has raised millions of dollars for victims of disasters like Katrina, the Asian tsunami and the earthquake in Haiti.