By Damodharlila Dasa (Padayatra leader)

After a stay of almost two monthsin Akola through March and April 2024the Maharashtra Padayatra moved northeast through the Vidarbha region via Chohatta, Anjangaon and Paratwada before turning southeast towards Amravati, our next destination, covering a distance of almost 200km.

While we were still in Akola zonal supervisor Anantasesa Dasa invited us to be part of the Rukmini Dwadasi celebrations in Amravati and since then the Amravati devotees had been eagerly awaiting our arrival, especially our padayatra coordinators Meghashyam Dasa and Jayabhadra Devi Dasi.Having left Paratwada on May 11,weattended prabuji and mataji’s housewarming programme(with the help of Paratwada preacher Harinamamruta Dasa),after which they and their son Nimai joined padayatra as we headed to Amravati.

As we reached ISKCON’sSri Sri Rukmini Dwarkadish templein Amravati’s Rathi Nagar on May 18 Ranchod Krishna Dasa and his team were performing sankirtan at the entranceto the suburb. When the chariot appeared the sankirtan started to roar and everyone paid obeisances to the Lord. As we proceeded two families did arati of the Lord and the oxen andeventually, singing and dancing, we entered the temple courtyard where to our surprise many devotees were waiting to welcome us. Advaitacarya Dasa performed arati of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and Srila Prabhupada,garlands were offered to all of us and chandan applied on ourforeheads. Anantasesa Dasa then gave a brief talk on the glories of padayatra.The chariot was parked in the temple grounds and many people took darshan of the Lord and our majestic oxen, Garuda and Nandi,who attracted the hearts of all children.

The following day was Mohini Ekadasi andon May 20we took part in theRukmini Dwadasi festival. Rukmini Maiya appeared inKaundanyapur dham which is just 44km from Amravati. Since the inception of the Maharashtra Padayatra this was the first time we were in Amravati and it was like Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundarcame for the celebration of Rukmini’s appearance day. Devotees who had travelledfrom all over Vidarbha for the event were very pleased to have darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar, and we padayatris were also extremely delighted to celebrate Narsimha Chaturdasi while at Amravati.

On May 23 Anantasesa arrangeda meeting and called on the congregation devotees and youths to plan a route for our padayatra so that Amravati city would be covered by sankirtan as well as book and prasadam distribution. And once Amravati city is covered then the Amravati rural area also will be covered.For every area a coordinator was appointed to look after the advance party and prasadam, so the plan was made and ready for execution. Later that day we all went for a house programme and from the next day we started going out for nagar sankirtan with devotees andhad wonderful sankirtan and book distribution. ISKCON’s Youth Forum and Girls’ Forum also joined us distributing books.

Twenty children from Sonada and Sugoda that we passed through after leaving Akolajoined padayatra for three days at Paratwada. They are wonderful kirtaniyas and book distributors.In Amravati they had a ten-day camp and participated in various competitions, so I was invited to give them gifts. As we went for sankirtan people would come out to see these children in their dhotisand kurtas dancing and singing.I was also invited to share my padayatra experiences with the devotees atthe Sunday love feast.

I thank from the bottom of my heart Anantasesa  Dasa and all the temple devotees for helping us and making us feel at home in Amravati.

Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar ki jai.

Srila Prabhupada ki jai.