Padayatra goes on

ISKCON Gondia holds first Vaishnavi padayatra

By Padmakshi Prema devi dasi (IGF preacher) and  Bhaktin Shivani (IGF member)

By the mercy of Guru and Gauranga the city of Gondia’s ISKCON Girls’ Forum in northeast Maharashtra successfully organised its first Vaishnavi padayatra as a small offering for our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, on his seventy-fifth Vyasa-puja.

Let’s see how Gondia celebrated this beautiful festival. Our God-sister at ISKCON Amravati, Jayabhadra devi dasi, came up with the idea of a one-day padayatra. She and her IGF team have been organising one-day Vaishanavi padayatras for five years. In January 2024, we invited her to our centre and she inspired us to do our own padayatra.

A woman can do miracles in spiritual life: she can make two families Krishna conscious as well as the future generation and she is the first guru of her children. Jayabhadra explained that when we serve together the love between us and our faith in the Lord increases. By becoming Krishna conscious, women can serve for the welfare of our society, nation and the globe at large.

Mataji’s idea filled us with enthusiasm and touched our hearts and we decided to come together to work on it and begin planning padayatra. ISKCON Gondia in charge Damodar Chandra dasa supported us and gave us permission to go ahead. Under Jayabhadra’s continuous guidance and the support of all devotees we engaged everyone in services like making arrangements, holding meetings, and filming invitation videos.

Our Vaishnavi team invited everyone via social media, invitation cards, pamphlets and personal communication, quoting Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma, sarvatra pracāra hoibe mora nāma – My holy name will be proclaimed in every city and village throughout the world (Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya-khanda 4.126), along with “hare nama evakevalam!”

Finally came the day of celebration and we were all exhilarated. We never expected that more than 300 Gondia matajis would gather at the Sri Hanuman mandir to join our holy walk around the Civil Lines neighbourhood.

Our padayatra dress code was decided as gopi dress or red-coloured saris. Sri Sri Gaur-Nitai’s cart was decorated with a padayatra banner and there was kirtan by our youth girls. A special attraction was the nritya (Indian traditional dance) team, and all the Vaishnavis and newly participating matajis were very excited to display tilak and gopi dots. The guests were also anxious to have a photoshoot with the children, who were well-dressed in Sri Sri Radha-Krishna attire, and with a young Vaishnavi in a Maharashtrian Nauvari sari who carried Tulasi Maharani on her head.

The festivities began with a welcoming session for our guests. Our chief guest, Dr Madhuri Nasre (President of Mahila Urban Bank and Hope Foundation), inaugurated padayatra and she and the other special guests – Mohini Choube (Nagmandir bhajan mandal), Alka Nichwani (Gondia Hanuman mandir women president), Kunda Donode (Purvaparshad), Bhavna Kadam (Purvaparshad), Bharthi Pathak (Fulchur ward member), and Rekha Nagpure (Principal of a Nagpur girls’ college) – were welcomed with a garland and the Hare Krishna maha mantra’s blessings by our ISKCON Gondia matajis. Celebrating this holy occasion other Gondia devotees offered greetings, prasadam, juices and butter milk to the padayatris.

Padayatra started with prayers to Lord Narsimha dev, then Sri Sri Gaur-Nitai on Their cart led the parade followed by the nritya team and our padayatris. Everyone enjoyed the beautiful nritya during the Hare Krishna kirtan and all were very happy seeing themselves as part of this mega festival. In every square and all public places and colonies throughout padayatra matajis announced our Gondia centre weekly programmes and the importance of harinama. Vaishnavis also zealously distributed many of Srila Prabhupada’s small spiritual books as well as pamphlets about harinama and our centre activities.

We extend our thanks to our zonal in charge, Hari Kirtan dasa, for always guiding us and spiritually taking care of the devotees at ISKCON Gondia. We also thank all padayatra participants and encourage them to join us in our house programmes.

The prasadam feast was courtesy of the prabhujis’ team and several Hanuman mandir devotees. We are also much obliged to Damodar Chandra and Alaukika Prema dasa who guided us and supported our event from beginning to end.

We are very grateful at the lotus feet of our beloved Guru and Gauranga for the Hare Krishna movement and the beautiful service of harinama and engaging all of us under the guidance and motivation of devotees like Jayabhadra mataji.

Thank you so much!

Srila Prabhupada ki jai!

Srila Gurudev ki jai!