By Paul McKenzie
The 2015 “Paada Yatra” Temple to Temple walk saw many from the Sydney Indian community, from many faiths and backgrounds, came together to keep an Indian Hindu tradition going, walking from temple to temple. Began in Sydney some 16 years ago, with a team of devoted organisers – “Let’s Give Hope” with a passion of faith. “Let’s Give Hope” organizing committee spokesperson, says “Pilgrimage on foot, “Paada Yatra” to holy places is a special Hindu tradition that brings about physical, mental and spiritual up lifting, besides being an environmental goodness. Paada Yatra is a Hindu tradition to “walk to a pilgrim” on special events and occasions during festive seasons. This a general practice in Hinduism and this is done by all states and cultures in India alike. Coming from places far and wide, including Canberra and even from Brisbane, for this walk.
The walking devotees started assembling from 5:30 AM onwards on Saturday morning during the October long weekend earlier this month at the Sri Murugan Temple at Westmead/Mays Hills with early morning prayers on the Great Western Highway with around 100 devotee walkers to begin the journey. A short stop at the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple Harris Park, before making way to the Sri Sai Mandir Temple Strathfield, Some devoted walkers joined from Sri Karpaga Vinayagar temple en-route to Sri Sai Mandir, after 14 kilometers. Some walkers finished their walk at Sri Sai Mandir and some new walkers have joined from there.
Leaving Strathfield over 80 devotee walkers, along the journey towards south, continued down King Georges Road to Como Park, on the Georges River. After lunch, walking, with religious inspiration and devotion continued, to reach Engadine by around 6:00 PM for overnight rest. Next day, early morning start, the walking devotes went down the princes highway, to their final leg, the Sri Venkateswara Temple at Helensburgh. They wrap up their “Yatra” by taking blessings at the temple.
The Paada Yatra Temple to Temple Walk was well organised by registering the event with NSW premier’s department, getting road occupancy license from RMS, permission from NSW police and local councils and covering first aid requirements and public liability insurance for the day. Supported by all local Hindu temples and the Hindu Council of Australia. The walk is supported by a good number of volunteers with a supply car with cold bottled water and fruit at regular intervals for the devotee walkers and some being on standby in case of emergencies (medical needs).
Leading walking devotee, Renga Rajan who finished first, from the Sydney Sri Ayyappa Swami Centre Guildford, says “the walk is a divine one, walk of faith that is a good cause that makes you humble.” It is a great tradition, to make new friends and meet more people, as the Paada Yatra Temple to temple walk grows.” “Thanks to God, organizers, my wife, my family and all my well-wishers and friends”.