The annual four-day Nabadwip Dham parikrama (circumambulation) begins tomorrow, so Srila Gurudeva and all the devotees leave Kolkata early this morning to travel to the international headquarters of our beautiful Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math on the banks of the holy Ganges River in Nabadwip, West Bengal.
The holy land of Nabadwip is, superficially, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Kolkata. It is a famous place of pilgrimage because it is the land where Lord Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (the most recent incarnation of God) manifested his divine pastimes 500 years ago.
Many devotees from all over the world have arrived in the last few weeks to attend the big Gaura Purnima festival (the holy appearance day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) on Saturday, March 6th. Although many of the devotees have already gone on to Nabadwip, there are still enough of us left here in Kolkata to have to hire a luxury bus to transport us to the holy dham.
A "luxury" bus in India is a euphemism for a bus that would (just barely) be issued a certificate of roadworthiness in most Western countries. Of course, if you have ever sat on the wooden seats of any of the other bone-jarring rattletraps with the rivets popping out of the panels and a door that only shuts on sharp bends, you will readily appreciate why this is called a "luxury" bus :-)
Suffice to say, we all reach the holy dham in one piece. After we are allocated our rooms, we are given a nice big prasadam meal, and then we prepare for the grueling parikrama that begins at dawn and ends after dusk tomorrow.