Inspired by the trips organised by Jaya Radhe and Anapayini in America, and also by our experiences on the summer Vaisnava Youth Bus Tour, my friend Nadiya and I decided to organise our own Kishori Yatra trip. Perhaps no so smartly, we picked one of the wettest weeks of the year, to make our way to one of the wettest regions of Great Britain – South Wales. Our aim was to give some of the younger girls in our community a fun holiday, as well as engaging them in thinking about the beliefs and practices that they’ve grown up with. With a broad lack of formal instruction at this age level (equally so in my generation), many are confused as they enter their teens. We wanted to give them some experiences that would help them to personally identify with Krishna, as well as developing a natural attraction for him.
We’d planned it for months, but it didn’t give me much confidence. I’d never taken responsibility for anything like this before, and up until the night before, I was frantically looking through games books, and going over workshop sessions – afraid of having ten bored or uninterested teenage girls on my hands.
No one does road trips like packs of teenage girls…
We set off early from the temple, trying to beat the clock to get to our first activity in Wales that afternoon- horse riding. Until we were 40 minutes away we were in high spirits and running on time.
Unfortunately, as the first plops of rain began to fall, we hit serious traffic. Almost an hour and a half later, after getting delayed, then completely lost, we found the horse riding place. We were over an hour late and the owners weren’t pleased.
A gruff lady assigned us our ponies and snapped out directions. Many of the girls had never ridden before, and her attitude did nothing to reassure them.
Blissfully unaware of the gathering clouds.
Soon we were out on our horses, plodding along the cliffside that overlooked the Mumbles bay. The higher we got, the harder the wind whipped. The rain lashed against our arms and legs, and when we turned to go back, it flew directly into our faces. Hands and toes went numb. The thin trousers we wore were soaked through. I was at the front of the line, and looked back at the miserable caravan. I prayed some of the girls were enjoying themselves – I certainly wasn’t. Every fibre of my body screamed for a radiator and dry clothes, and I was so relieved when we finally reached the stables again.
Amazingly, the girls were still in high spirits (something that became less surprising as the trip went on!), and we drove the short distance to the Swansea ISKCON temple and Govinda’s restaurant, where hot prasadam awaited us. The devotees there welcomed us so sweetly, that I instantly knew we’d be alright. After prasadam, we had our first kirtan of the trip in the upstairs temple room, where beautiful deities of Panca-tattva live. My family worship Panca-tattva at home, and it was so nice to pray to them again, as I had that morning, to give me the intelligence and determination to make the trip a success.
We had four days left, and lots more rain to come…