By Chaitanya Jivan Dasa (President)
The devotees of Jalgaon, under the guidance of Anantasesa Dasa (Zonal supervisor Vidharbha region), organized a 5th one-day padayatra on January 26th, 2023. Jalgaon is a major city in western India, located in the northern part of the state of Maharashtra within the region of Khandesh. We have a small ISKCON center.
We saw that many padayatras were being organized worldwide. Also, when we were in Pandharpur for a meeting, our Gurudev, Lokanath Swami, instructed all the leaders to organize padayatras in their respective temples, centers, nama-hatta groups, and villages. He said that padayatra is the best means of preaching. He also said it can last many days or just one day. The impact padayatra has on the general public is indeed miraculous. Getting inspiration from Gurudev and understanding how padayatra is close to his heart, I and the congregation devotees decided to organize a padayatra.
The goal of padayatra
The objective behind it was to make Jalgaon’s public aware of ISKCON, so that gradually they would come to our center. We named our padayatra as “Vishva Shanti Harinama Sankirtana Padayatra” (Harinama Padayatra for World Peace) which sounded very catchy. We wanted to instill the holy name within everyone’s heart. Our aim was to call each and every person of Jalgaon to ISKCON, so our theme was “Chalo ISKCON.”
Preparations started 15 days in advance. We spread the news in all the villages around Jalgaon. We brought the deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai from the ISKCON Dhule center and installed them on the cart which was beautifully decorated by the devotees of BACE, Bhaktivedanta Academy for Culture and Education, a residential facility for college students and young unmarried professionals where they integrate spiritual discipline with their academic and professional career. Before it started we had a small meeting with Parthasarthi Dasa and he gave us special tips for padayatra.
On January 26th the devotees assembled early morning at the Panjarapol goshala. To our amazement, we saw about 150 devotees gathered. Even matajis joined the holy walk with full enthusiasm. They followed the example of the warkaris, the pilgrims walking towards Pandharpur in Maharashtra who carry Tulasi on their heads for Lord Vitthala. These vaisnavis did the same in our padayatra also. Devotees from different villages Faizpur, Shelwad graced the padayatra with their presence.
We walked 10 kms from the Panjarapol goshala in Jalgaon to the Hare Krishna namahatt center at Primprala Jalgaon. The padayatra started with an arati by the MLA of Jalgaon Mr Rajumama Bhode and a grand sankirtana. About 200 people on the way joined. In Maharashtra people hardly know about Sri Sri Gaura Nitai but we made announcements explaining to them that they are the same Sri Sri Krishna Balarama of Vrindavana. We distributed books and prasadam and performed sankirtana in the city’s main areas. During the walk, we distributed about 200 books, including Bhagavad-gitas, Krishna books, and Bhuvaikuntha ( a book on the holy city of Pandharpur written by our spiritual master Lokanath Maharaja) and small books. Our idea is to next have padayatra for two days, three days, then four, and so on.
Then the padayatris shared their realizations. It was a wonderful experience, they all said from now onwards we will have padayatra every year and not just for one day, but for many days. A few devotees said that padayatra increased their enthusiasm and that now they can perform their devotional services more effectively.
Our padayatra was a success only because the devotees from Faizpur, Shelwad, Bodavad and Pimprala joined hands with us. The Matajis need a special mention because they were the ones who were running all over making different arrangements. The police department also helped us by controlling traffic during the entire day.
Our small padayatra with Sri Sri Gaura Nitai in the beautifully decorated cart became the talk of the town. The effect could be seen in the newspapers also. Being in Maharashtra the bullock cart is always honored and respected, then what to say when the Lord is riding on it? People were amazed to see Their Lordships in the cart and so many devotees walking and dancing around Them.
Various services are done by devotees:
Overall coordinator – Mayapur Chandra Dasa
Prasadam cooking – Padmagandha Devi Dasi and other Matajis
Pujari – Bhaja Gaurang Dasa
Kirtana – Aditya Vaman Das and Team
Book distribution -Rambhajan Dasa
News and Advertising -Yamuna Dasa
Bullock cart decoration – Asit Krishna Dasa and Bhatka Chetan
Breakfast – Amal Prem Dasa
Lunch – Pradumnya Dasa
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
All glories to all the padayatris.