By Dayal Mora dasa
The ‘Pilgrimage for Peace’ began on Monday July 17th outside the main gate of Canterbury Cathedral, a worldwide famous place of pilgrimage. We were nicely greeted by the Dean of the Cathedral who was captivated by our beautiful draft oxen from the Bhaktivedanta Goshala, namely, Balaram and Govardhan. That evening we were featured on the ITV Meridian evening news, and after this report we became quite well known in the area.
A core team of twenty five devotees, from both Soho Street temple and the Manor, were a sight to behold, colorfully dressed with bright faces and chanting with great enthusiasm to the blissful kirtana of Mahavishnu Swami. Padayatra is a sublime way of bringing the devotees together as a transcendental temple on wheels, by which we involve onlookers in devotional service. Padayatra very easily attracts the minds of the people, and anyone who has been on padayatra and experienced this atmosphere will know some magical pastimes whereby devotees have touched the hearts of people they meet and left a deep impression on them.
John and his wife, owners of the Hatchets Farm House Campsite, were so enchanted with what we were doing that they allowed the whole group including two huge oxen to stay there free of charge! They also contributed hay and vegetables for our animals and some organic products for us.
Jill, owner of Sandwich Leisure Holiday Park which was our campsite on Tuesday evening was so happy to have us stay. Even despite some disturbances familiar to the presence of the Hare Krishnas, she still didn’t charge us a penny and was beautifully smiling ear to ear as we departed on Wednesday morning.
The weather was exceedingly pleasing most of the time with glorious sunshine tempered with a cooling sea breeze and a little splash of rain sometimes in the night when we were safely tucked up in our respective tents. We were surprised to hear of weather warnings and localized flooding in nearby areas because by some divine arrangement we were completely unaffected.
We walked through the beautiful Kentish countryside; curious cows and nimble horses peered at us over their fences and the kirtana was strong as ever! Devotees were so happy and content with the knowledge of just how many living entities were benefiting from hearing these holy names. As we neared the end of the padayatra, devotees mentioned it would be nice to keep going; one devotee even expressed his desire to go for a full year in this style. Everyone was in a blissful mood as we settled down at our final campsite atop the famed White Cliffs of Dover.
As we made the descent into Folkestone I was contemplating: what’s next? Parasuram would be at Oxford the next day for Ratha-yatra, the brahmacharis were on book distribution in Folkestone capitalizing upon the attention we had attracted and as for myself I was going to make my way to Czech to participate in their longstanding and admired padayatra to receive inspiration on how to improve the UK contribution in future years.
Lord Caitanya took the sankirtana movement out of the houses and the temples and into the streets in order to distribute the inexhaustible storehouse of love of God for the benefit of all. In this age of addiction to social media, where the population prefers to take shelter of an impersonal fake version of reality within the illusion already provided for them, the need for a fearless public presentation of our sublime culture has never been stronger. Following in His lotus footsteps let us come outside away from those screens to continue this Padayatra and similar sacrifices, thus bringing Prabhupada’s ISKCON to the attention of all people all over the world and give them a chance to become conscious of Krishna.
All glories to the Sankirtana Movement!