By Akinchan Damodar Dasa (Padayatra team member)

The 1st of February 2024 marked the accomplishment of the 2nd leap towards fulfilling the All-Mauritius Padayatra dream. While the Mauritian population was on a public holiday celebrating the ‘ Abolition of Slavery’, the Mauritius Padayatra team decided to take Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundara and deliver the Holy Name to the doorsteps of people, thus actually helping free them from imprisonment in material existence.

‘sādhu-saṅga’, ‘sādhu-saṅga’ — sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya

“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.”

This lap of the Padayatra started where we last ended – Vinayak Mandir, Beau-Bassin, our destination now being around 7 km apart at Baby Chetty Social Hall, Petite Riviere. In the Beaming sunshine of 3PM, devotees were busy readying the cart, while Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundara patiently waited in the temple hall to be taken to their ride. Inside the temple, we had the wonderful darshan of Rukmini Vitthala and were immediately reminded us of Sri Pandharpur Dham and our beloved Gurudev, Param Pujya Lokanath Swami Maharaja. What could be a better way to start this journey?

As we drew close to 4pm, a drizzle shone through the sunshine and showered auspiciousness upon us. The deities were soon set in the cart and Shatrughna Dasa blew his conch shell to begin arati for their ever mesmerizing Lordships. Ajay Caitanya Dasa led kirtan and the walk kicked-off.

Arrangements at the level of Vinayak mandir were nicely done. HG Vidura Prabhu and team offered fresh chilled juice to all devotees and made the same available all through the walk. This time around, the Padayatra Mauritius team took care of minute details, trying to optimise on the success of each yatra. The team had a banner printed and carried all the way through. Another novelty was flags with prints of Jai Sri Rama and Jai Sri Krishna. These definitely added to the beauty of the procession.

As many noticed, we had the photo of someone special on our cart altar on that day – that of our all time cart driver, Bhakta Satyam who left his body in December 2023. We pray that Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundara always keep him at Their Lotus Feet.

Performing kirtan, we crossed ‘Beau-Bassin’ and stepped into a village called ‘Chebel’ which offered us a scenic view over the open sugarcane fields far-stretched in valleys merging with the vast ocean on the horizon. Frequent drizzles and the cool breezes spared us from the unbearable summer. Passing through Chebel, we hit the avenues of ‘Riche-lieu’ and reached ‘Gros-Cailloux’ village.

As from here, we entered at the heart of the village habitations. Walking through, we arrived at a place where the sides of the road were paved with bricks and big trees were planted all the way offering shade and sitting places to inhabitants. This sight immediately took us on a mental tour to Govardhan. We suddenly felt as if walking on Vraj Mandala Parikrama.

Sri Vraj Mandala Parikrama Ki Jai!

ISKCON Padayatra ki Jai!

All through, we had a book distribution team of 4 devotees who approached the villagers and passers-by to offer them Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental literature. And of course, Mahaprasadam sweets of Nitai Gaurasundara were distributed to each and all. A team of Matajis unhesitant reached out to the doorsteps of people to deliver them Krishna in the form of mahaprasad.

Ornamenting further this yatra, senior vaisnavas and padayatris gave their valuable contribution. Ramvijay Dasa walked all through, his saffron robes attracting the sight of onlookers. Pradyumna Prabhu Dasa, Harihar Dasa and Panca Tattva Dasa joined us to give a helping hand in kirtan. As we reached closer to our destination, our happiness saw no bounds as villagers stepped out of their houses to come pay obeisances to the deities. Many came offering fruits, flowers and incense. Shatrughna Dasa encouraged the villagers to offer incense arati to Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundara and offered them mahaprasad. He tactfully kept calling people from inside their houses to come over to take darshan and walk along us. The enthusiasm and participation of the villagers gave us a boost and soon the kirtan led by Sanatan Dasa reached its crescendo. The whole group of padayatris sang and danced fervently.

The walk continued with this enthusiasm despite the persistent drizzle which practically drenched the padayatris. Fortunately a team of devotees got us all literally covered (with umbrellas). Upon reaching our destination, we were welcomed by Tamal Krishna Dasa and Rohini Bhakti Dasi who had taken care to organize practically everything at the village’s social hall, them being members of the Namhatta there.The assembled devotees took refuge in the warmth of the hall where Sri Sri Nitai Gaura Sundara were carried and placed on an altar. Kaunteya Dasa led a wonderful kirtan followed by a very nice Gaura katha. Sanatana Dasa was as well welcomed to deliver a lecture and wonderfully explained about the importance of chanting the Holy Names and how Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a genius in bringing this means to the people of Kaliyuga.

Padayatr ki jai
Srila Prabhupada ki jai
Srila Gurudev ki jai

HG Gopal Guru Pr performed arotika for Their Lordships thereafter, accompanied with roaring kirtan. With this the program ended at around 8.30pm and a simple yet very delicious meal was offered to the assembled devotees and villagers. Many thanks to HG Rohini Bhakti Mataji who sponsored the whole feast. On the menu, we had rice, dal, kofta in tomato gravy, coconut chutney, pakora and besan laddu accompanied with chilled juice.

Preparations for the next lap are already on! Sri Sri Nitai Gaura Sundara ki jai! Jagad Guru Srila Prabhupada ki jai!