The Sabha’s Annual Senior Citizen’s Picnic, with accompanying non-senior citizens, was held on 10th February 2019, with a trip to Govardhan Ecovillage, Wada. Situated amidst the lush green Sahyadri mountain ranges in Wada district, an approximate two-hour drive from Mumbai, the Ecovillage is run by ISKCON and is a peaceful yet modern ashram resort.
The day started early at 6.30am with two buses – one each along the Western and Eastern Express Highways – carrying 94 participants, mostly senior citizens, from all over Mumbai. With singing and enjoying small snack boxes, everybody was in an upbeat and enthusiastic mood.
Once at the Ecovillage, everyone proceeded to have breakfast and then gathered around in one of the open Yoga halls for a discourse and introductory session conducted by Shri Ananta Raghavdas, one of the gurus at the centre – who being a G. S. B. himself, conversed with the gathering in Konkani. This was followed by a tour of the entire campus, starting with the magnificent Madan Mohan Temple, followed by Govardhan Parikrama – a walk around the replica of the Govardhan hill, visits to the water recycling plant, farming and other natural wonders of the ashram. The participants then settled into the comfortable indoor auditorium where Shri Ananta Raghavdas held an interactive audio-visual session on “4G” – Ganga, Go-mata, Gita and Govinda – and the significance of these in Hindu philosophy.
By this time, it was afternoon, and everybody headed to the Yoga Shala to have a sumptuous and delicious lunch sitting under the shade of trees. After lunch and returning back to the auditorium, a few casual games and activities were conducted which everybody participated whole-heartedly and enjoyed with zest and vigour. The highlight was the Adhyatmik Quiz, a tradition now followed since several years of the annual picnic. Prizes were distributed by the oldest participant (aged 78 years) with help from the youngest participant (aged 4 years).
After tea, there was a visit to the Go-shala, where the Ecovillage rears more than a hundred cows of all breeds and ages. The participants could feed and pet the friendly cows and calves while hearing about the amazing capabilities of the benevolent animal from one of the guides. Finally, the group had a long walk back towards the replica of the Yamuna river for the evening Yamuna Aarti – a delightful and peaceful session in the lap of nature. After a long day, it was time to head back to the buses and back home, filled with wonder and joy of the experience and saying goodbyes.
The Annual Senior Citizen’s Picnic, which has been running for more than two decades now, is a very popular activity of the Sabha and it is extremely satisfying to offer the same to our senior citizens. Like any Sabha event, it is made possible by lots of effort. But the biggest contribution is from our sponsors and well-wishers for whom we’re eternally grateful – Smt. Roopa and Vishnu Prabhu for sponsoring the buses, Smt & Shri V. S. Bhat for the Adhyatmik Quiz, and Smt. Vijayalaxmi Mallya for the prizes. And finally, a thank you to Shri Anant Raghavdas and the team at Govardhan Ecovillage for hosting us with such warmth.