For a number of years, ISKCON Christchurch in Te Waipounamu (New Zealand’s South Island) has held a combined padayatra (a walking journey) and boat festival. There are two small rivers running through the city, the Avon and Heathcote, that pass by beautiful forested gardens as well as the prominent urban centre, which is always an ideal setting for our colourful festivals.
Having undergone earthquake devastation in 2011 the city has been slowly rebuilding, enabling the devotees to hold festivals in newly emerged green and open spaces. Incidentally, the Christchurch temple was one of the buildings that required demolishing and has since been rebuilt and gained new life.
Devotees decided to take advantage of the city’s rivers and newly established walkways to conduct a padayatra and boat festival (nauka bihar) during Easter 2022 for the pleasure of Their Lordships. Our beautiful, large-size Jagannath, Baladev, and Subhadra, the Lords of the Universe, were rowed along the Avon on Good Friday while Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurachandra accompanied Them on a tricycle along the footpath. Their jubilant servants joyfully danced and sang the Hare Krishna maha mantra alongside Them all.
Their Lordships ready on Their boat
Two days later on Easter Sunday, it was the turn of Nitai-Gaurachandra to be rowed along with the Heathcote, the small murtis of Jagannath, Baladev, and Subhadra traversing on the tricycle on this occasion. Accompanied by seventy local devotees chanting and dancing, the afternoon culminated in the ecstasy of a swing festival for Sri Sri Radha-Kunjabihari. The festivities concluded with a fest served to all in attendance.
The days on which they held the festival were scheduled for the Christian time of Easter when Jesus was crucified and resurrected. This sideline feature again exemplified the drama of separation and union in advance of spirituality.
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