By Damodarlila dasa, Maharashtra Padayatra leader
On August 9 we moved on from Andalgaon, took our prasadam on the way and by noon had reached the large town of Mangalvedha, 25km southeast of Pandharpur, where we were welcomed by the residents. It was a market day, so the streets were full of people from nearby villages who were there to buy vegetables and groceries. We entered the town chanting the holy name and as people heard the kirtan they offered obeisances, came near to the chariot and took darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and Srila Prabhupada.
Mangalvedha was the home of the 14th century saint Chokhamela, a leading figure of the Bhakti movement and one of India’s first low-caste poets. While working on the farms of upper-caste people he would compose abhangas in praise of Lord Vitthal. Chokhamela’s samadhi is located in front of the town’s Vitthal temple.
Vanamali dasa, a doctor by profession and a preacher in the area, lives in Mangalvedha and although unable to greet the padayatris due to being on duty at the hospital, he had made all arrangements for us. We were invited to his house and upon arrival were welcomed with garlands. Our oxen were given fruits to eat and we also honoured fruit prasadam there. In the evening we performed sankirtan and had Gaura arati in the town square. After kirtan, I gave a small talk explaining the importance of padayatra and ISKCON. We also distributed khichadi prasadam to all those assembled.
The next day we went for nagar sankirtan in another part of town and many people joined us. A devotee name Navanath Barbar brought vegetables for us and we also went to his house, performed Gopalji’s abhishek there and honoured prasadam. We then continued with our sankirtan and were eventually invited to another residence for the householder’s daughter’s name-giving ceremony. I named her Vrinda, which everyone liked. Then surprisingly a devotee came forward with his son and requested us to name the boy. In front of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai I named him Gauranga. When I asked if everyone approved of the name, they all replied “haribol!”
Thus, we completed two days of preaching programmes in Mangalvedha.