By Sarathi Shyama Dasa
The devotees of ISKCON Raichur held their first padayatra on March 4th. The two-day padayatra lead by temple president, Varada Krishna Dasa was organized to engage the congregation in a spiritual activity that would help propagate Krishna consciousness. Raichur is a city located in the South Indian state of Karnataka with a population of approximately 500,000 people. The city is situated 409 kilometres away from the state capital, Bengaluru. It is an agricultural district growing rice paddies, cotton and groundnuts.
Our party consisted of 40 padayatris (38 men and 2 women) and a motor-vehicle, which served as a cart to transport Gaura Nitai and our banners. We began the padayatra at ISKCON Raichur and walked a total of 45 kilometres to our final destination, Mantralayam.
Day 1, March 4th
All the padayatris gathered for mangal arati (morning prayers) at 5:30 am at the ISKCON Raichur temple. Afterwards we set off and made our first stop at Gunjahalli village 20 kilometres away. Our arrival was a new experience for the villagers of Gunjahalli who had never heard kirtana or seen devotees dancing in kirtana before. We decided to go around the village chanting kirtana and later that evening, around 6pm we held a Krishna katha (talks about Krishna and His pastimes). After the katha we distributed tamarind rice, sambar and sabji (curry) prasadam to 100 villagers. Everyone was very receptive to our program and they thanked us for visiting their village. We spent the night there, staying at the homes of devotees’ relatives.
Day 2, March 5th
The next day at 4:30 am we held a mangal arati program before leaving. We travelled another 20 kilometres to Mantralayam also known as Madhwacarya Mutt and distributed twenty Bhagavad-Gitas and twenty ‘Back to Godhead’ (BTG) magazines along the way. We arrived at Mantralayam at noon that day. Mantralayam is referred to as a pilgrim village because thousands of people visit the many temples there located on the banks of the Tungabhadra river. We met with Sri Sri Subudhendra Teertha Swami of the Mantralayam Mutt. We asked him to bless our ‘Bricks of Bhakti’ initiative which is an eco-friendly program for the construction of a new ISKCON temple in Raichur. The program encourages people to come help make environmentally friendly bricks for building the temple, we even carried a few with us to show everyone. Sri Sri Subudhendra Teertha Swami blessed the project and asked all Raichurians to participate.
All the padayatris were enthused, motivated and blissful after our padayatra.