Indian spiritual leader Amma, the 'hugging saint,' visits DC area

Hindu spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi also known as "Amma" and "The Hugging Saint." (AP Photo/Keystone, Steffen Schmidt)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - An Indian humanitarian and spiritual leader who has gained a following in the United States is visiting the Washington area to bless thousands of followers.

Mata Amritanandamayi, who is better known as "Amma," will hold events Sunday and Monday at the Hilton Adams Mark Hotel in Alexandria. She has been called "the hugging saint" because she has been known to hug more than 30,000 people during a single day's service.

In India, Amma has built a major humanitarian organization that has drawn worldwide attention.

Amma is on a 10-city U.S. tour accompanied by 275 volunteers. Organizers say thousands of people are expected to visit her seeking blessings in Alexandria. Her group will offer meditation classes and other activities. All-day services will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday and Monday.