Sydney Padayatra provides hope and a will to trek 65 km

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By Manju Mittal

It is not City to Surf when thousands of people walk or run the much publicised 14 Km walk. It can be 14 km or even as long as 65 km and is a holy pilgrimage starting from one temple of Sydney to end up at another temple 65 km away. The purpose is to connect to one’s spiritual self while chanting the name of Lord with all the devotion and will one can muster.

On October 1st, 2016, the first day of long weekend, close to a hundred enthusiastic devotees with determination, faith and devotion congregated to participate in a 65 km walk for the annual event of trekking that is Padayatra from Westmead Sri Murugan temple all the way to Helensburgh Sri Venkatershwara temple. ”˜Lets Give Hope’- a non profit Sydney organisation walk2 temple team has organised Padayatra since 2012 which became an instant hit and a popular pilgrimage for Sydneysiders.

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It is a Hindu tradition to walk to a pilgrim on special events and occasions during festive seasons. People participate in Padayatra for many reasons, for political purposes, to get away from stresses of life, for simple peace of mind, or just to go back to the basics and simply be able to participate in healthy exercise. Walking is also an intimate activity and the conversation also tends to flow easily with the walking companions.

On the day Westmead temple opened its doors early morning to welcome the Pilgrims and conducted special arthi and abhishekam for the pilgrims before they started their holy trek The journey began at 6 am in the morning with a long 14 km walk to Strathfield Sai Temple which they covered in three hours. They were served breakfast at the temple from a stall put up by Sai devotees and were served hot upma and tea. Some of the pilgrims concluded their yatra at Sai temple while others joined the walk from Sai temple for the last leg of the pilgrimage which went all the way to Helensburgh’s Sri Venkateswara temple.

Volunteers to the trekkers were amazingly helpful and encouraging, provided cold water, fruits and hot meal for the yatris at set intervals. Mantra repetition and chanting gave pilgrims luminous energy. They had strong faith in God leading them towards their holy destinati which they reached in the evening at Sri Ventakeshwara Temple.

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Sydney pilgrom Renga Rajan said “The walk is divine, walk of faith for a good cause that makes you humble, is a great tradition to make new friends with the other padayatris”.

“People who take it up the whole experience helps strengthen one’s spiritual life,” he added.

Another participant Aruna Chandrala said, “It was amazing to see some young walkers who joined padayatra very enthusiastically this year. We want the Padayatra Temple to Temple Walk grow in future and promote it as a big Hindu religious event of importance for the Sydney Indian and South Asian Community.”

One of the padayatris, Sweta Negi shared a similar sentiment, “Padayatra is an excellent spiritual experience and worthwhile time spent in devotional service. I have gained experience by meeting so many inspiring people and I completed my walk with new enthusiasm and feel very refreshed”.

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Young walkers Saloni, Ria and Ispita Negi also were happy with the experience. They found it to be quite unique, an activity that helped them overcome the normal tensions of modern day life.

Organising team of Walk2Temple included Sai Paravastu, Murli Konneru, Ravi Ananthuala and Ravinder Etikala. They have called this Padayatra – “Lets Give Hope”. Some devotees also joined from Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane this year. The Padayatra Temple to Temple Walk was organised by registering the event with NSW Premier’s department, Road occupancy license from RMS, permission from NSW police and local councils and covered first aid requirements and public liability insurance for the day. It was supported by all local Hindu temples and the Hindu Council of Australia.

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Make sure to keep the long weekend in October free for this historic pilgrimage right here in Sydney for the Hindu community. We know that many of us plan to do that by going away to holidays in India and trek there in the Himalayas and its foothills to find peace. Yet when it comes to Sydney thanks to the organisers there is one pilgrimage here now. All one needs is faith, healthy body and a determination to meet the Lord while discovering the self.








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