By Ritudvipa Gaurachandra Dasa (Padayatra leader)
On April 29 we were in Aligarh where we performed nagar sankirtana in different areas of the city. The next day the advance party went searching for a “new home” for the coming days. We had heard some people discussing a pending lockdown in the district. This caused great concern and so many questions flooded our minds. Will it be like last year? Will the lockdown be for a week, a month or many months? Then there will be no sankirtana, no book distribution and no house programs. Padayatra will come to a standstill. The key question was also who will give us shelter for so many months?
With these troubling questions we again moved ahead. I saw a board ‘Hare Krishna college’ and was amazed to see a college with such a name. It was as if the Lord had heard our dilemma and was giving us the answers and solutions. The college is in Bhartrim a village in Lodha Tehsil inthe Aligarh District in Uttar Pradesh. As we moved inside, we met Mr K.S. Chavan, a retired police officer. His wife and son both are disciples of His Grace Kratu Prabhu. They are affiliated to Aligarh ISKCON centre. Mr. Chavan welcomed us. We enquired from him if we could possibly stay there during the pending lockdown period. He happily welcomed us. In fact, he was so helpful when he said, “You can stay here as long as you want.”
On May 1, we reached the college and we have been staying there since then. It is a big college. We parked the ratha in the courtyard of the college along with the trolley and tractor. Mr. Chavan brings vegetables for Their Lordships daily. Kanpur temple also provided us with some groceries. Last year during the lockdown we faced many problems, but this time the Lord was very merciful.
We regularly have our morning programs, japa session and Srimad Bhagavatam class. After that we complete our daily services, and after honoring prasada we undertake self-study. In the evenings we perform Gaura arati. It is very discouraging to stay at one place. Even our oxen are restless. It becomes difficult for them to walk after a long stay at one place. We all like to keep moving ahead and spreading the glories of the holy name to every town and village. It is our daily prayer to Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundara that this pandemic abates soon and so that we may resume our padayatra with normalcy.