It was a perfect Sunday afternoon on September 26th as the devotees and well wishers of Shri Surya Narayan Mandir gathered for the 2nd annual Walk-a-thon to benefit the Pt. Ram Hardowar Sanskriti fund. With overcast skies, and a mild 68 degrees, it seems that if Surya Bhagawan himself was blessing us by providing perfect conditions as we participated in this fund raiser. This year the 5 miles walk-a-thon occurred during Pitri Paksha, a time of year set aside to pay homage to our ancestors. This being the case the organizers decided that this year’s walk should be dedicated to our parents and ancestors.
After the end of services, walkers started the registration process, after which they gathered in the Mandir parking lot which served as the starting and ending point for the event. As you look at the gathering you can see children as young as 7 years old and adults well over 70 yrs old taking part. When everyone had gathered, Pt Ram recited sacred mantras and prayers to make this year’s walk-a-thon successful, and to bless the walkers so that they will be able to complete the walk and return safe to Mandir. Safety instructions were then given out by Detective Lowe of the 103rd precinct. A special thank you must be given to the offices of the 103rd that came out in force just like last year to support us during this event.
In an exuberant mood, carrying various signs and slogans and with our spiritual leader Pt. Ram Hardowar leading us, we embarked on our five mile journey at 1:15 pm with the flags of Surya Mandir and America flying high. The festive mood continued and many slogans were chanted as we made our way up 172nd street towards Hillside Avenue. All along the route the young and old alike chanted “Hari Om Tat Sat”, “Hari Om Tat Sat”, “Jai Ram Shri Ram”, “Long Live Surya Mandir”, ‘Sanatan Dharma Ki Jai’, etc. The energy generated by the chants pushed the walkers onward. The good vibrations continued as we made our way along Hillside Avenue to Francis Lewis Blvd.
The excitement among the walkers surged as we reached Francis Lewis Blvd and the walkers saw the White Hummer belonging to Bhai Kedar. They knew this was the half way point and a much needed water stop. Once everyone had their fill of water, they were anxious to continue the walk and with renewed energy we moved onward. Many cars and curious onlookers alike was wondering why or who was marching. A new song & chant was quickly developed to answer the questions. The catchy tune quickly conveyed to all that it was Surya Mandir, a “good good Mandir”, along with “it’s numerous pandits”, not to forget the “wonderful and generous devotees” that were marching for a most worthy cause and to keep Sanatan Dharma and our values alive.
As we make our way down Jamaica Avenue, many wanted to slow the pace since they realized that the end of our five miles walk was fast approaching. Everyone wanted to enjoy the last few minutes of the walk since they know that it will be another year until we gathered again. No one wanted the event to end since we were all having a good time and did not want the camaraderie to end. Personally I was feeling a bit tired and I knew waiting for us at the finish line will be the usual mouth watering snacks.
Around 2:40 as we approached the last block before making the turn to Mandir we were greeted by our Videographer who was no other than Bhai Amar Persaud, the President of Surya Narayan Mandir. In addition to help set the pace for the walk, Amarji served as the official Videographer for this event. I’m sure that it was through the blessings of Surya Bhagawan that our esteemed president had the strength to run back and forth along the route so that he could capture this event from strategic points.
Our walk ended at 2:45 pm in the Mandir parking lot where the walkers gathered for a group photo. After the photo session we all snacked on Buns, Aloo Ball, Biganee, Red Velvet Cake, Watermelon and Lemonade. To cap off this wonderful event a grand raffle was drawn. The prizes of a 42 Inch TV, a High Definition digital camcorder and an iPod Touch will be awarded to the winners.
Special thanks to the 103th precinct, the walkers, the Surya Veer Gurukulam for organizing this activity, and all the volunteers who made this event a successful one. See you all next year.