Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

ISKCON Plans 50 Padayatras for Its 50th Anniversary
By Gaurangi Dasi   |  Jan 01, 1901
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The Padayatra Worldwide Ministry headed by Lokanath Swami started to work on its offering of 50 padayatras on Gaura Purnima 2014. To this day 22 padayatras have taken place, 8 are being planned and 20 remain to be done by ISKCON devotees. 

ISKCON’s Padayatra Ministry is inviting all the devotees worldwide  to participate in this glorification of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada. This  goal of 50 padayatras  is very feasible, as padayatra is basically a low-cost  project  of variable duration that can be carried out in  many  different styles – a one man venture  like Bhaktimarga Swami in Canada; a weekend padayatra as an outing for the congregation around a city or farm; a summer padayatra ;  an  annual walk or a   continental or trans-continental walk. Padayatra can be done in different ways, according to the geography of the specific country, the devotees’ available time, resources and manpower: with or without a bullock cart, with a horse to pull the cart, or just as an extended harinama. Devotees can walk and drive if they live in a country with long empty or desert stretches, or they can walk and fly (or take a boat) if they want to move from island to island.

Another reason why the Padayatra Ministry thinks this goal of 50 padayatras is very feasible is that the Padayatra Ministry already achieved a much larger goal in the past.  At the time of Srila Prabhupada’s Centennial in 1996, there was 105 padayatras, some of which took place during the Padayatra Week  which was scheduled just before World Holy Name Day.  The Silver Jubilee of ISKCON could well be the occasion to revive the Padayatra Week.

Bhaktimarg Swami and his Padayatra team in Mauritius

Unlimited benefits for devotees, temples, congregations, families or yatras 

Here are a few of the numerous benefits of going on padayatra :

– Getting purified and rejuvenated by chanting all day long

– Fulfilling Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s desire to see the holy name resounding in every town and  village of the world

– Engaging the oxen in serving Their Lordships instead of being kept idle on our ISKCON farms and goshalas

– Getting in shape by walking and dancing, and engaging in physical activities (setting  up the padayatra camp, caring for the oxen, etc.)

– Escaping the daily routine, either at home or in the temple

– Seeing the hand of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai in daily happenings and miracles

– Traveling in the company of devotees and a cart carrying  the Deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Srila Prabhupada

– Trying out new services: cooking, advance party reporting, organising, contact with the media, etc

– Distributing books the easy way, with the harinama party in the background

– Having lots of healthy spiritual fun

ISKCON 50th and the padayatra

The chosen key public message for ISKCON’s 50th anniversary is  – THE JOY OF DEVOTION – is  being perfectly exemplified by padayatris chanting, dancing, traveling  and serving together in great bliss. Padayatra, being always in contact with all sorts of publics, is a program that can easily fulfill all of the ISKCON50’s goals :

– To inspire a better and larger public appreciation for values and contributions of Krishna-consciousness

– To make Srila Prabhupada more known and appreciated

– To unite and inspire devotees in celebration

– To get increased attention: media, government, interfaith communities, beneficiaries, and other stakeholders

– To enhance and improve ISKCON’s reputation

Children in Andra Predesh, India, after their encounter with ISKCON’s Padayatra team

What devotees can do to connect their padayatra to the 50th Anniversary

They can…

– Include key ISKCON50 messages in speeches, display the World Exhibit and commemorative merchandise, screen the films, and position logos in artwork.

– Use  the materials that will be provided in coming months by the international team, including – logos, banners and posters ; exhibition material, theming, and media messages ; publication material – ISKCON50 magazine, films, and exhibit.

– Replace the showing of « Your ever well-wisher » with the Acharya Film  being released in 2016. It will draw a lot of attention to Srila Prabhupada’s life and achievements. Another ISKCON movie is also planned and information will become available as it progresses. 

– Show the ‘Joy of Devotion’, a  documentary project which is a visually compelling and educational film that conveys Srila Prabhupada’s key messages, the movement he built and how ISKCON continues to transform the lives of both its members and the people of the world. It will directly cover about 20 interviewees in 14 cities in 9 countries in 6 continents. This film will be perfect to showcase ISKCON throughout the 2016 initiatives.

– Display the exhibit encapsulating all the different aspects of the Krishna-conscious culture. It will be made available to print.

– Make banners (Padayatra celebrates ISKCON 5Oth anniversary), fliers/brochures,  with the help of the material provided by the ISKCON50 team.

– Get VIPs (local councilors, Indian business leaders, cultural ambassadors, favourable celebrities, and heads of relevant organisations) to come to the padayatra  event.

– Disseminate educational materials that will enhance the understanding of ISKCON: flyers, brochures, and especially the ISKCON50 magazine.  The ISKCON50 Magazine is a special commemorative magazine being produced especially for ISKCON50. It will highlight ISKCON’s major achievements over 50 years and also highlight stories and experiences from local centres around the world. Articles included in the magazine are – ‘The History of ISKCON’, ‘The Many Faces of ISKCON’, ‘Yoga and Kirtan’, ‘Science, Art and the Krishnas’, ‘A World of Festivals’.  Make sure you order them timely.

– Increase prasadam distribution on the road and during festivals.

– Increase book distribution (with more Lilamritas on Srila Prabhupada). A target has been set to achieve 12 million books in 2016.  Subscribe public libraries, interested community groups, and educational institutions.

– Distribute the special edition of Back To Godhead for the 50th anniversary. 

– Launch or end  the  padayatra  at one of these commemoration dates (or celebrate at any time of the walk):

     – August 13, 2015 : the day that Srila Prabhupada left for America on the Jaladuta

     – July 13, 2016 : incorporation  of ISKCON

     – Other dates connected to Srila Prabhupada : vyasa-puja day, day he visited a specific temple or yatra, etc

– Inform the media about the 50th anniversary theme of your padayatra and increase the media exposure: where possible appoint a padayatra media coordinator  (could be the country’s communication coordinator). They will receive specific instructions in the form of media messages, statements, and press releases but also broader guidelines from the ISKCON Communications Ministry in order to effectively engage the media. The different media forms to consider are – television news channels, radio shows, newspapers, trends on social media, and other modes through the internet 

– Hold Srila Prabhupada seminars, and sessions for sharing memories and realisations of Prabhupada.

– Hold various seminars for devotees during the walk:

– Besides the outreach efforts, it is equally important to focus inward and cultivate our devotees’ sense of well-being and pride within their communities. During padayatra, you can enhance  devotee care  by replicating initiatives that are taking place within our international units focused on community, such as – Mayapur Congregational Development Ministry, Grihasta Vision Team, ISKCON Youth Ministry, Appreciation Event, etc

Yashoda-dhulal and his friends at the Padayatra across New Zealand

* * * 

For more information, news and resources :

– Contact Gaurangi Dasi, Padayatra Ministry’s coordinator: gaurangi.lok@gmail.com

–  Visit the Padayatra Websit :  www.padayatra.com (Updates on the 50 Padayatras project, inspiration, guidelines, manual online, reports, schedules, contacts,  photo gallery and videos).                       

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