By ISKCON Jalgaon president Paramatma dasa and Sarang Thakur dasa
On January 26, 2021, the ISKCON devotees in Jalgaon in north-west Maharashtra held their fifth one-day padayatra. The date selected was a Sunday so that devotees from the surrounding district could attend.
The purpose behind the padayatra was to connect people to the temple, as the temple is out of the city, and to create awareness of ISKCON’s padayatra. Also, people have been preoccupied recently with fear of the coronavirus and nobody has spent much time in public. To bring respite from the virus and offer them karuna of the holy name, padayatra would steer people away from fear towards karuna of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and give them harinama. And festivals fill devotees with enthusiasm, so to increase devotee passion was a further motivation to hold padayatra. The police department was also happy, saying they had not seen such a procession in the coronavirus era. “It’s like medicine to all fearful hearts,” one officer said.
As in previous years, the Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai deities were brought from Nashik. Leading the padayatra was a jeep on which a big banner was attached and as the jeep moved ahead announcements were made: “The Lord is coming; get ready to have His darshan.” Our special guests presented the message of Godhead wherever we stopped and performed kirtan. Matajis and children also participated in the event. We arranged some vehicles for the devotees who cannot walk but to our surprise nobody sat in them, everyone was happily walking and dancing and drinking the nectar of the holy name.
Ox-cart and flowers
By the Lord’s mercy we were provided with an ox-cart for our walk. The cart was adorned with flowers and balloons and the oxen were decorated with colours. Our Bhakta Sharad had become sarthi for Their Lordships. The public enthusiasm was due to the awareness of padayatra generated by the local devotees, and the welcome the villagers gave us was much appreciated by the padayatris. Also, because of the pandemic people had not been out for months, so they were pleased to see Their Lordships and the dancing devotees. Fifty young, vibrant devotees from Mumbai attracted everyone’s attention, thanks to our God-brother Revati Raman dasa who had brought them for the padayatra.
About 200 devotees participated in the 18km walk, including those from Jalgaon, Faizpur, Pachora, Sirsholi and Erandol. The padayatra began at 9am from the Pimprala Hare Krishna centre and wound its way to Bendale square, Ganesh colony, Tower square and the Old Khedi road, arriving back at the ISKCON centre at 3pm, the cart having conveyed Their Lordships through the entire village. At the centre about 400 devotees and guests heard Parthasarthi dasa talk about the importance of padayatra and how it is the desire of our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, that padayatras should be held all over the world. We inspired the assembled devotees to have a one-day padayatra in their villages and spread the holy name. Full prasadam was then served to everyone.
Padayatra’s honourable guests were Revati Raman from Thane, Parthasarthi from Pandharpur, Jagannath Yatra dasa from Pachora, Hari Gauranga dasa from Mhasawad, Pawan Putra dasa from Faizpur, and the fifty devotees from Mumbai. These powerful devotees added stars to the occasion, their out-of-this-world sankirtan making everyone dance and sing the holy name.
Book Score: 50 Bhagavad gitas and 30 small books.
The success of padayatra was achieved through the cooperation of devotees, whom I would like to thank along with all other participants. I also thank Maharaja; it’s only due to his inspiration that we keep going on and on.