By Damodarlila dasa, Maharashtra Padayatra leader
Padayatra reached the small city of Madha on August 29. We had been thinking where to conduct our upcoming festivals and I had the contact number of Radhanath Maharaja disciple Pratap Krishna dasa. I called him just as he was making preparations to go to Pandharpur for Janmastami and he was happy to hear that padayatra was in his city. I asked him to remain in Madha and join us which he agreed to do, so we celebrated Sri Krishna Janmastami and Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day festival at his house.
We fasted throughout Janmastami day while busily engaged in preparing for that evening’s celebration. Nama sankirtan began at 9pm and an hour later abhishek was performed of our Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai and Pratap Krishna’s Jagannath and laddu Gopal. Pratap Krishna usually does abhishek of Jagannath, but on this occasion he was blessed with abhishek of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar. This was followed at 11pm by katha on Sri Krishna Janmastami. At midnight we did arati of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and offered fifty-six bhogas to Them, then the assembled devotees and guests honoured prasadam. We didn’t celebrate in the city because of the coronavirus but many people from the colony attended, making about 100 participants including the devotees.
The next day was the 125th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s appearance, which is why this year is so special. We padayatris are celebrating the whole year to glorify Srila Prabhupada. We are all indebted to him for he gave us ISKCON, beautiful temples and the wonderful Krishna conscious family. From about 10:30am devotees recited their offerings to Srila Prabhupada and spoke about his glories. At noon we performed arati in front of the chariot and fifty-six bhogas were offered. Again around 100 people attended the festival, many returning from the previous day, and everyone honoured full plate prasadam.
There is an old Vitthal temple in Madha and it is believed that the deity was in Pandharpur and later shifted to Madha during the Mughal attacks. In the evening we performed Gaura arati at that temple and sang abhang of Lord Vitthal in Marathi joined by residents of the surrounding villages.