Since I have already given a very detailed write-up about my first padayatra to Shirdi experience last year, I am not going to repeat most of it this time as nothing changed much in comparison to last year, I will just add a couple of points which I feel should be interesting enough for the readers.
After having completed my first padayatra in January 2012, when many Sai Devotees of Shraddha Padayatrik Mitra Mandal were asking if I would be joining them again next year, I was not willing to give any commitment about me going on a padayatra again. The journey by walk to Shirdi was so tiring and painful that I was not very sure if I would do it again. But as months passed, the memories of my journey to Shirdi on foot remained fresh and I was beginning to make up my mind to once again go to Shirdi on foot but I was still unsure about it to a large extent. Months passed and until mid November I had still not made up my mind …in fact after my shirdi padayatra of January 2012, I did not even bother to go for my daily morning walk as I thought I had completed my quota of walking for the year…but by the end of November I had more or less decided to go to Shirdi by walk again. I started preparing myself and use to walk almost 10-12 kms in less than 2 hours everyday for almost 35-40 days before my 2nd padayatra.
Shraddha Padayatrik Mitra Mandal had their schedule fixed from January 5 to January 10th. I came to Mumbai from Hyderabad on January 4th and joined the entire group on January 5th at Thane Wartak Nagar .
One of my friend and Sai Devotee Mr. Anil Divesekar came to the starting point along with his friend to walk a few steps with our padayatrik mandal. The reason for stating his name here, he has played an instrumental role in providing all the mandal information to www.shirdipadayatra.com. Without his initiative, there was no way I could have collected so many mandal information for the benefit of those who wish to go on padayatra to shirdi. He really made my job very easy. Moreover, Mr. Anil Divsekar himself is a founder member of another such Mandal which organizes such padayatras and their padayatra is usually in the mid of December every year.
At the starting point, I got introduced to a gentleman named Deepesh. This was going to be his first padayatra and he told me that he did read about my experience of Shirdi Padayatra and that is how even he decided to try going to Shirdi by walk. I was thrilled to meet someone who read my blog and thought it was quite useful.
This time I was more confident, like last year, I was pretty well prepared and more so I already had completed one padayatra the previous year so I knew the actual challenges involved. But, to my surprise, I found the first 2 days of walking to be more tougher, tiring and painful than the previous year. Neverthless, 5½ days passed in no time and I was able to reach Shirdi without any issues like the previous year.
After having completed 2 padayatras to Shirdi, I am now mentally prepared to go to Shirdi by walk once every year and I hope that it should materialize every year.
This year, I interacted with quite a few who were participating members of Shraddha Padayatrik Mitra Mandal and believe me there were some real interesting personalities. I will be having a separate link for each of them on this blog sites but I do have to make a brief mention about them here.
Sai Bhakt Haradhan Surendar Dass Ji. Last year itself I was told that equalling his record or achievement will be next to impossible for anyone. This year I did get introduced to him and exchanged some information. He has to his credit of walking not just from Mumbai to Shirdi, but has walked from Mumbai to Vaishnodevi as well. It does not end here. He has walked to almost all places of religious importance. Kindly check his brief in a separate link.
Sai Bhakt Sunil Barve Ji: Mr. Sunil Barve Ji has been going on Padayatra to Shirdi for the past 11-12 years. He has to his credit of having a launched a music CD in Marathi dedicated to Sai Baba and most of the songs are padayatra related. He has been the lyricists for all songs, and has sung a couple of songs in that CD. Mr. Sunil Barveji will soon be launching another such CD in the service of Shirdi Sai Baba. I am awaiting his complete profile to be sent to me, which he has promised to send it soon. Mr Barve Ji also plays a key role in Shraddha Padayatrik Mitra Mandal by performing bhajans at night during our 5 night long Shirdi Padayatra.