By Bhaktin Diksha and Bhaktin Khusi (IGF Akola)

A fifth Vaishanvi padayatra was held recently in Amravati. Our Vaishanavi’s group at Akola’sISKCON Bhaktivedanta Vedic Cultural Centrewas much inspired by the event and with a desire to please our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, and the constant motivation ofAmravati’s Jayabhadra devi dasi, we organized a Vaishnavi padayatra for March 17, 2024.

We had very little time to prepare but we had online meetings withJayabhadra devi dasi to understand what needed to be done. Padayatra’s agenda was set by Prem Vilasini devi dasi with Ahaituki Krupa devi dasi, Janki Rani devi dasi, and Punya Pushkarini devi dasi. It was also our good fortune that the Maharashtra Padayatra’s Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar were at our centre. This was the reason Jayabhadra devi dasi said to do padayatra:“Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar willwitness your padayatra.”Padayatra oxen Nandi and Garuda were secured in our campus and were a major attraction for the new ladies.

We invited several of Akola’s prominent women to join padayatra: Mrs Usha Virak, advocate Bharti Rungta, Sakhi Mandal president Mrs Manju Gattani, Agarwal mahila mandal’sMrs Nirmala Bansal, journalist Mrs Nishali Panchagraham, advocate Nilima Shinge, Navadurga mahila mandal president Mrs Ravita Sharma, Rajasthani mahila mandalpresident Mrs Kirti Shami, video jockey Mrs Jaya Bharti, journalist Mrs Nilam Tiwari, and advocate Mrs Usha Tiwari.

As it was hot we preferred to do padayatra in the evening, so we all gathered at the centre at 4pm.Jayabhadra devi dasi addressed the assembled ladies telling them the importance of padayatra and how it is very dear to Srila Gurudev. She also talked about the importance of harinama and how those who spread the holy name are very dear to Lord Krishna. The guests were surprised to see so many young girls present in the assembly. They congratulated them for taking up Krishna consciousnessso early in life, which is the need inthis era when the young generation are going for addiction and spoiling their lives, so it’s beneficial that they take up Krishna consciousness as early as possible.

Having welcomed the guests there followed an aratiof Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and chanting of the Hare Krishnamahamantra.As we were coming out of the hall to start walking the Lord sent a shower giving us a signal that He was pleased by our service, which our guests described as enthusiasm for the occasion.Padayatra then began with a loud kirtan. We have a good kirtan team of matajis:Bhaktin Kalyani with Prem Vilasini’stwo daughters,Bhaktin Lochan and Laddo, who did wonderful kirtan. We walked and danced along the way, also doing announcements and inviting those hearing to chant with us.

Throughout padayatra the ladies and IGF girls sang the Hare Krishna mahamantra passionately, everyone participating in the march with great joy. People were amazed tosee the padayatris dancing and chanting loudlyso that our voiceswould reach as far as possible. We walked about 4km, benefiting from the refreshments and drinking waterthat had been arranged along the route, and returned to the centre by 8pm. Delicious prasadam cooked by prabhus was waiting for us. As it was a Vaishnavi padayatra we had given all cooking services to prabhus. We thankedthem all and then everyone honoured prasadam together as the ladies shared theirexperiences and realizationsof padayatra.

The objective of ourpadayatra was to propagate harinama among the people and imbibe the culture of padayatra in all minds for world peace,to show how women can deliver themselves and future generations by contributing to spirituality.Padayatra was first conducted by LokanathMaharaja, our source of inspiration, having been instructed by Srila Prabhupada to preach village to village by bullock cart. Following in his footsteps, ISKCON Akola organized this mahila padayatra for the first time. Padayatra is the heart of our spiritual master,thus this Vaishnavi padayatra was also held to have a little place in his heart for us andto please him.

We would like to thank Vaidarbhicarandasa,our centre leader who always guides us and supports us whatever projects we undertake. He readily gave us permission to perform padayatra.Thanks also go to all those matajis who assembled to join our holy walk; special thanks toPrem Vilasini devi dasi  for doing all arrangements in so short a time. We are all blessed to have Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar with us at our centre; it’s a great fortune to serve Them and we will be celebrating Gaura-purnima with Them. It was all Their mercy that we could do something to please Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar ki jai.

Srila Prabhupada ki jai.

Srila Gurudev ki jai.