By Caitanya Jivan dasa(assistant manager ISKCON Jalgaon)

A one-day padayatra organized by the Malegaon and Muktainagar devotees in northern Maharashtra took place on March 7, 2024.

Padayatra’sobjective was world peace and to give the holy name to every house and every person. This was the fourth annual padayatra on the ekadashi before Maha Shivaratri, the entire event being planned by Bhaja Gauranga dasa.

One hundred and fifty devotees congregated at 8am at Malegaon ISKCON centre which is  located about 14km from our destination at Muktainagar. Padayatra’s main attraction was our Sri SriGaura-Nitai on a beautifully decorated bullock cart which we all followed. Prasadam and water were arranged to energise the devotees at two places along the way as the temperature is now starting to increase.

The padayatris arrived at Muktainagar around 3pm where a pandal had been organized by the local devotees. Parthasarthi dasa, our guest and guide who always inspires us for preaching programmes,gave a class on the glories of padayatra, encouraging us to continue with that service.Our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, always says that “padayatra is my heart and when I am in padayatra I feel I am back home.”

The bullock cart was decorated by Suryavanshi Ram dasa and Bhakta Sachin; the kirtan team was Aditya Vaman dasa, Gaurang dasa, Bhakta Ganpati, and Bhakta Nitesh; Vigraha seva was Madhava dasa; prasad seva was Nandotsav dasa, Bhakta Nilesh, and the Nimkhedi and Muktainagar devotees; prabhuji management was Pawanputra dasa and Rukmini Vitthal dasa; mataji management was Balaji priya devi dasi and Chandralekha devi dasi.

About a third of our party were new devotees and it was the first time they were involved in such an occasion.When asked what they thought of padayatra they said they were very happy and that it should be a biannual event.

Bhakta Deepak – I liked this padayatra very much and sankirtan the most.

Bhakta Sachin – Every year I do the service of decorating the bullock cart. I pray at the feet of Lord Krishna that I can continue to do this service,and that padayatra should be twice a year.

BhaktaHari (9 years) – I love to walk in the padayatra and I held the flag from the beginning till the end. I liked the padayatra very much and also the prasadam.

BhaktaSudhakar – I had the service of arranging water and tractors for tired devotees. I am very fortunate that I got this service and I will keep performing it every year.

Devakabai – I was sick and didn’t think I could walk this much distance, butbecause of sankirtan and devotees’ union I walked the entire distance. The devotees had arranged the prasad and the water very well.

Shardabai – I participated in the padayatra for the first time and it was very good. With two small children I had a problem as to how I could take care of them, but I felt very good that the vehicles were arranged for the children.

Bhaktin Vrishali – There was kirtan,prasad,katha and the company of devotees.Also, I loved how everyone was taken care of during the padayatra,especially thechildren and theelderly, so we wish all the devotees to make this padayatra happen again and again.

We didn’t face much difficulty in the walk, but as it was summertime padayatra should have started a little earlier. The devotees were feeling a little bit hot, but since cold water and vehicles were arranged for the tired ones, we didn’t feel too uncomfortable. However, next time we will try to start padayatra as early as possible in the morning to complete it before it gets too hot.

I thank all the devotees who joined us tomake the padayatra successful.

All glories to Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All glories to Srila Gurudev.