By Sanatana Kripa dasa
In line with the padayatras of the past two years, from December 12 to 15, 2019, Gujarat’s ISKCON Baroda devotees completed a four-day walk to the Ranchhodrai temple in Dakor.
At 6am about seventy padayatris gathered at the Baroda temple. After arati to Sri Sri Nitai-Gauracandra we started walking to our first stop at Saishav school in Sevasi village. There we performed kirtan bhajan for 600 students which was well received and included participation from the students and teachers. Soon after the kirtan we headed for Ankhodiya village where we distributed many copies of Bhagavad-gita. We also performed Guru puja there which was followed by breakfast prasadam. The padayatris’ next destination was Dhanora where the sarpancha, Mr Pravin Chizala, made arrangements for our overnight halt. Dhanora is a sparsely populated hamlet, however many villagers attended our programme and enthusiastically participated in the Nagar sankirtan. An almost 200-strong congregation of padayatris and villagers then went through Dhanora performing kirtan and distributing Bhagavad-gita and the mercy of Nitai-Gauracandra.
At sunrise the padayatra party started walking towards Fazalpur village on the banks of the Mahisagar river. From there we proceeded to the small town of Vasad where we distributed several copies of the Bhagavad-gita before heading to Sarsa where we had lunch prasadam and an overnight stop. That evening as we walked through the village streets passing by every door, we performed kirtan and distributed Srila Prabhupada’s books as well as 1000 Gitasar books to students in the government school.
On this day several devotees joined padayatra from Baroda and nearby villages. We began walking soon after Sringar arati heading for Ode village but on the way stopped at the C. J. Patil School to distribute books. Upon arrival at Ode we performed sankirtan in the local school for about 2200 children as well as the principal and staff, a huge gathering compared with earlier padayatra programmes. We also distributed about 700 Gitasar and 150 Bhagavad-gita books on sankirtan in Ode where after a full day we had our night halt.
On the last day of padayatra devotee numbers swelled from eighty to 150. This emphasized Lokanath Maharaja’s assertion that padayatra would increase from strength to strength as it continued. The striking feature of this padayatra was that we had more youth than grihasta devotees than in the previous two walks. The first village we reached on day four was Umreth where we had our breakfast and then did sankirtan, dancing with Gaura-Nitai on our heads and passing on the mercy to villagers. At 1.30pm we arrived at the Dakor Ranchhodrai temple opposite the sacred Gomati Talav, where in the Ambawadi ashram the devotees gathered to hear katha on Dakor Ranchhodrai. All devotees and programme donors were then feted with a vote of thanks followed by lunch prasadam, after which everyone took darshan of Sri Ranchhodrai and then dispersed to their homes.
This was ISKCON Baroda’s third annual padayatra, in which devotees travelled to sixteen villages and distributed about 1200 maha big books and 2000 Gitasar.
We heartily thank Sri Basu Ghosh prabhu and Sri Nityananda Ram prabhu who have always inspired us to visit every taluka and village of Vadodara to spread the divine mercy. We also thank our spiritual master, Lokanath Swami, who took this initiative for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada. Finally, we thank our grand spiritual master, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, for his continued mercy and spiritual strength which has led us to perform this padayatra to please him and Sri Sri Nitai-Gauracandra.
We also thank all the devotees for their physical and financial support. We are determined to continue padayatra annually and spread Lord Caitanya’s message.