By Radhakunda dasa
We began our fourth Indraprastha ISKCON Noida to Vrindavan padayatra on September 29, but the preparations had been started long before. We planned for an ox cart sankirtan rath and an advance party to about fifteen villages and this year included arrangements for the ladies, whereas for the past three years it had been for prabhujis only. The number of participants on this year’s walk was set at thirty devotees.
The inauguration ceremony took place at 2pm after the Sunday love feast. About 200 devotees had gathered for the arati and coconut breaking. The procession was followed by ecstatic kirtan and dance. There was a welcoming swagat party at sector fifty by Jagannath Swami prabhu’s bhakti vriksha. That evening we reached our first destination, the CRPF camp, where we were welcomed by the owner of the guesthouse. We distributed many of Srila Prabhupada’s books and pamphlets and lots of prasadam along the way. We didn’t stop harinam for a second until we reached the camp, doing harinam for about seven hours. Upon arrival we had dinner and then took rest.
On September 30 we departed slightly later than what would become routine because our destination for that day, the Greater Noida centre, wasn’t far. After walking about 3km, we reached entrepreneur Ballav Prashad Agarwalji’s biscuit factory. Mr Agarwal donated the Noida property on which the Radha-Govind Deva temple is located. His family welcomed us warmly with garlanding and arati of Gaura-Nitai. Vamsidhar dasa gave a small token of appreciation for all the seva that the Agarwals have been doing. We then took breakfast at the factory and continued on our walk. Upon arrival at the Greater Noida centre we were welcomed by Rasaraja Gaura dasa and his team. After taking rest we attended the evening class followed by prasadam and harinam in Greater Noida. Our book distribution score for the day was 250 transcendental books, a big achievement. We also collected around Rs 7000.
On September 31 we headed for Ghari, a beautiful village that has mother Ganga flowing beside it. Our programme would be as the previous two days until we reached Vrindavan. We would leave at 6am and arrive at the destination by 12:30pm. Upon arrival devotees freshen up, wash clothes and take rest, then attend the evening class from 3-4pm followed by prasadam from 4-5pm. After prasadam we had harinam sankirtan in the villages. The evening sankirtan, including kirtan, prasadam, books and pamphlet distribution, was a great success. This was our daily routine for fifteen days.
The villages we visited between Greater Noida and Vrindavan were Dhankhor, Rabupura, Jewar, Tappal, Jathaari, Kher, Bajna, Nawjeel, Theni Gaon, Math, and Panigaon. We had a wonderful evening programme at Kher and from there went to Bajina, a special place because it starts the Vraja dham. We held the usual programme at Bajina and had a huge harinam there. On October 12 we reached Panigaon. Many congregation devotees from Noida joined us and brought flowers for decorations. Radha Raman Maharaja also came to visit us and gave a wonderful katha. From Panigaon we departed for Vrindavan the following day.
We left for Vrindavan at 6am on October 13, the first day of Kartika, and after walking a few kilometres we crossed the river Yamuna. We were welcomed at the Jagannath temple by the sannyasis and the head of the temple. Another eighty Noida devotees joined us at Atalla Chungi. We were welcomed by the Radhakunda dasa family, including Indranilmani prabhu and Janavi mataji at their house offering garlands and lemon water. At 9am we were royally welcomed at the Krishna-Balaram temple with a warm kirtan and garlands. Vrindavan Chandra Maharaja, Panchagauda prabhu, Rupa Goswami prabhu, the All-India Padayatris (Acharya prabhu and team) and many other devotees were there to welcome us. We then took our Gaura-Nitai to Prabhupada Samadhi and took darshan of Gaura-Nitai, Krishna-Balaram and Radha-Shyamsundar.
This year our accommodation was at the Krishna-Balaram temple. It was a special mercy for all the devotees. The devotees stayed at the Gurukula building which was organised by Sanak Sanatan prabhu. At 1:30pm we had a get together at Balaram hall for the padayatris, congregation and other devotees from Noida. The padayatris shared their experiences among the devotees and later had lunch prasadam. We did nagar sankirtan on the Bhaktivedanta Swami marg. From the Krishna-Balaram mandir we went to Prem mandir and after all that we attended the evening programme at the temple.
On September 14 there were thousands of devotees who had gathered at the Krishna-Balaram temple for Kartika. At 5am we brought our oxcart in front of the temple and started Vrindavan parikrama with about 2000 devotees from around the world. After parikrama, the padaytris were invited to Radhakunda dasa’s house for morning prasadam. Up to seventy devotees including the padayatris went and had kirtan and prasadam, after which we returned to the temple to pack and head back to Noida.
The Noida to Vrindavan padayatra Book Distribution Score: Small Books 3381, Big Books 97, Total Books 3478.
Padayatra commanders – Vajarangi dasa and Kalpa Vriksha dasa
Book distribution – Bhakta Deepak, Shuda Bhakta dasa, Bhakta Gaurav, Bhakta Nirmal, Bhakti Prayan dasa, Bhakta Saurav, Bhakta Anurag, Bhakta Suneel
Deity department – Rasparayan Shyam dasa
Prasadam distribution for public – Radha Shyamsundar dasa and two more devotees
Kirtan team – Radhika Vallabha dasa, Chakrapani Caitanya dasa, Satya Medha dasa, Nitai Gaurasundar dasa, Bhakta Sachin, Bhakta Keshav
Sound system – Devananda Pandhit dasa
Kitchen – Vajarangi dasa, Bhakta Santosh and two more devotees
Oxen care – Two villagers
It was a wonderful experience being a part of this padayatra and we wish to continue it every year.