By Acarya Dasa
On June 7th we reached Chemmanur in Kerala. We celebrated the Chida-Dahi festival there at the Narayan Swami Kalyan Mandapa where the namahatta devotees made all the necessary arrangements for the festival. We had grand kīrtana and Vedavyas Priya Maharaj gave a class describing the pastimes of the ‘chida-dahi’ festival.
The festival came about in Panihati where Raghunatha Dasa was going to meet Nityananda Prabhu, who was sitting under a banyan tree surrounded by many devotees. Raghunatha Dasa was hesitant to approach the Lord, and so paid his obeisances from afar. Some of the devotees saw him and told Lord Nityananda, who called Raghunatha Dasa and said “Raghunatha Dasa! You are hiding like a thief. Now I have caught hold of you. Come here. Today I shall punish you.” Nityananda Prabhu then put His lotus feet on Raghunatha’s head and ordered him to hold a big festival and to serve all the devotees yogurt and chipped rice. The Chida-dahi festival is celebrated in honor of this pastime. The festival is also known as the ‘Danda Mahotsava’ (Festival of Punishment) and is celebrated in the month of Jyeshta (May to June). Many pilgrims visit Panihati to this day to celebrate this festival.
The Lord’s mercy
One of the ladies from the congregation donated 7000/ Rs for the hall where we had the program. Before the program I heard that the owner of the hall is involved in preaching about Hindu dharma. I also heard he really likes people who are preaching about dharma and who worship Lord Krsna. So, when we arrived at the venue I spoke to him and explained that we are also serving the same cause as he. He was very happy to hear this and immediately returned the 7000/ Rs and he gave us a donation of 1000/ Rs too. Haribol!
Mercy of Sannyāsīs
This year has been very special because we have been blessed with the association of so many sannyāsīs. Vedavyas Priya Maharaj had joined our pāda-yātrā party for four days. We were so happy to receive Maharaj and welcomed him with all our hearts. We showed him the pāda-yātrā newsletter which he was really happy to read. Maharaj said that the glories of pāda-yātrā should spread throughout the world. He encouraged us to keep publishing the newsletter and to continue to inform people about Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar, how They are walking and spreading the glories of the Holy names. Maharaj also said every devotee should go on pāda-yātrā for at least twenty-days and ended by saying it is a wonderful experience.
Rupa Ragunath Maharaj who had been travelling with us for one month left on June 14th for Argentina. He said next time he will stay with us for two months. Bhakti Vinod Maharaj who is currently with us on pāda-yātrā, helped us a lot during our journey in Kerala. Whenever our book stock was finished we would inform Maharaj and he would immediately send for more books. Wherever we travelled he would always inform the leaders of each namahatta group and ask them to make the necessary arrangements for us. He told them that the pāda-yātris should feel at home and should not face any inconveniences while in that particular place.
Krishna’s mercy on Sahadev Dasa
Sahadev Dasa originally from Russia, joined us on pāda-yātrā at Trivandrum. When he arrived at the Chennai train station he was robbed of all his belongs: his wallet, camera, everything was gone. He was left empty handed. He remembered this verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam at the time:
yasyaham anugrhnami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih
tato ’dhanam tyajanty asya svajana duhkha-duhkhitam
“The Personality of Godhead said: If I especially favor someone, I gradually deprive him of his wealth. Then the relatives and friends of such a poverty-stricken man abandon him. In this way he suffers one distress after another.”
With determination he thought, ‘I have come to join pāda-yātrā and I will join.’ Somehow or other he managed to reach our pāda-yātrā party. He said, “My heart was pulled towards Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar and I am happy being on pāda-yātrā.”
Sri Sri Nitai Gauarsundar ki! Jai!