A pproximately 160 visitors from China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan recently came to Mayapur with His Holiness Giridhari Swami on pilgrimage. They came in two groups – the first group, of about 40 people, visited in late December of 2018, and the second group, of about 120 people, came in late January of 2019.
The tours were arranged by ISKCON Mayapur’s Visiting Devotee and Leader Care Department. Prior to visiting Sridhama Mayapur, the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the department also arranged for the groups to visit Kolkata and Sri Jagannatha Puri.
Kolkata, the capital of the state of West Bengal in India, is also the city where ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada was born and spent much of his life. The groups visited many places that were of significance to Srila Prabhupada’s life there.
Sri Jagannatha Puri is where the ancient temple of Lord Jagannatha is situated. Pilgrims from all over India and the world come to visit this city. Jagannatha Puri was also Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s base for the second half of His life, and the groups visited many places there where Lord Caitanya performed His pastimes.
After visiting these two holy places, the pilgrimage groups came to Mayapur. In Mayapur they visited many pilgrimage sites, including Harihara Ksetra, Nrisimha Palli, the temple of Dhamesvara Mahaprabhu, the house of Srivas Thakura, ISKCON’s Rajapur Sri Jagannatha Mandir, and Lord Caitanya’s birthplace at Yogapitha.
One of the tour’s participants, Sukanti Gopika Devi Dasi, said afterwards, “The trip to the holy dhamas has made me more determined and dedicated to my spiritual goal. I desire to bring more people back home, back to the holy dhama next time.”
One of the highlights of the experience was the initiation ceremonies that were performed during each group’s visit to Mayapur. Giridhari Swami accepted a number of the participants as disciples in ceremonies performed at Jagannatha Mandir and at the old gurukula ashrama near the Mayapur goshala.
Sangita Radha Devi Dasi, one of the initiates, said, “I feel grateful for the mercy of Guru Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna. I want to thank them for giving me and my mother the chance to visit the places where the Lord took birth and performed His pastimes! We feel so fortunate to be welcomed into the big family of ISKCON by getting initiation from Guru Maharaja. I feel so fortunate and blessed to be able to chant japa, do kirtan and hear lectures with so many wonderful devotees every day.”
If groups from any ISKCON center want to visit Mayapur and need assistance in planning their pilgrimage, the Visiting Devotee and Leader Care Department is available to help.
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