By Sanatan Kripa Dasa
By the grace of Guru and Gauranga, we successfully accomplished our first padayatra in Baroda. The inspiration came on July 4th, when a few devotees from ISKCON Baroda attended the 68th Vyasa -puja of His Holiness Lokanath Swami Maharaja. Before returning home we all had a chance to personally meet Maharaja. When we informed him of our padayatra plans, he immediately replied, “Yes, Vallabh Vidyanagar is organising a padayatra to Dakor, so you should also do one.” “Gurudev’s wish is a command for us”, so we thought.
Back in Baroda we started planning and, consulting with senior devotees, we fixed the date to Saturday Nov 11th. We decided to walk from the Baroda temple to the small town of Mahuvad where there is a famous temple of Ranchor Rai. It was a 2 days and 1 night padayatra, 32kms long, going through 7 villages with each an average population of 2200 people.
All the devotees gathered early morning, fully charged up with spiritual enthusiasm. At 6.15am, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai along with Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada were ready to travel to many villages and distribute eternal Krishna prema to all the fallen souls. The first arati was lead by a very senior devotee, Sriman Damodar Chaitanya Prabhu, and the first kirtana by Sriman Ram Govind Prabhu,.our Gita League champion and Bhakti Vriksha leader. At 7.15am, with a slight push to the ratha, we started our padayatra.
We moved ecstatically towards our first halt 4 kms ahead at the village of Bhayli, which we reached by 8.30am. Many children and elders joined us for nagar sankirtana, and with loud chanting of the names of GAURANGA and NITYANANDA we moved ahead towards the village of Bill ( only 2kms ahead) for our breakfast halt, guru puja and morning class. After prasadam we went to the village where people welcomed Sri Sri Gaura Nitai with garland, incense, fruits and flowers. Some of the villagers were very lucky to have the visit of the padayatra deities in their home. After our routine daily and evening program, the day ended with a dynamic lecture by Sriman Satcitananda Prabhu from Canada.
After mangala arati we started our day at 6 am with loud chanting around the village before heading to the nearby town of Padra for guru puja, class and prasadam. At 11am we entered the village with chanting of the holy names, distributing Srila Prabhupada books, and then walked to the village of Latipura village 4kms from Padra. There we did a small halt with buttermilk as refreshments, after which we moved towards the village of Ranu village, where there is a very famous Tuljabhavani Mata temple, but unfortunately it was closed in the afternoon.
After the sarpanch (mayor) of this village offered arati to our Gaura Nitai deities, we moved towards our final destination, Mahuvad, 4kms away. The day ended in the afternoon with a 20 mn joyous recitation of the famous mantra “Maha prasada Govinde….” Afterwards Vamshidhari Prabhu, Baroda’s ISKCON Youth Forum’s director gave a small speech and a vote of thanks to all the devotees who made this padayatra successful.
We had from 60 to 80 devotees on the road: elderly, young, women and children; all took part, all of them were looking very blissful. We distributed a total of 200 small books, 160 Bhagavad- gitas and some BTG magazines.
We especially want to thank Sriman Basu Ghosh Prabhu, president of ISKCON Baroda, Sriman Nityanand Ram Prabhu, vice-president of ISKCON Baroda and all the devotees who joined the walk from different cities, Surat, Vallabh Vidyanagar and Ahmedabad. Last but not the least we thank all the devotees connected to ISKCON Baroda and specially all those who took a management role in this padayatra. We sincerely thank all of them from the bottom of our heart. This padayatra was really the mercy of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai, Srila Prabhupada and above all of our beloved Gurudev, His Holiness Lokanath Swami Maharaja, who inspired all of us to make this padayatra a big success