I was very fortunate to be part of the hejje organised by Udhbahavaha this year too.We had a very memorable one in 2019 before covid crippled all our lives in early 2020.This time too, “Hejje” event has left a very good impression of cherishing moments in all of us who were part of it. It’s the hospitality of the villagers that topped the list of most memorable moments. I feel this was an educational yatra not only for kids but also for the adults as we are in the habit of planning all the minute aspects without realizing that there is a bigger factor named “UNCERTAINTY” which many of us are apprehensive of. Teachers and children, along with a few parents, set off their journey on July-3rd evening from Bangalore. Day1 of hejje started after performing Gau pooja and seeking the blessings from God. Crossing streams and fields, plucking and eating tomatoes for breakfast, meeting the warm people here with instructions from our Mukhiya, Hejje had set its tone.
We reached the village Chinchenahalli and parked for the night there. Some of the villagers were very generous to offer us a stay at their homes.On day1, we walked 12 kms, bid farewell to the people in Chinchenahalli. Day2 was spent in the village Venkatapura – cooking, eating, sitting beside the beautiful lake, teaching the kids in the village finger knitting. On the evening of day2, older kids along with the teachers performed a drama for the villagers on the street. Drizzling or passing by vehicles did not hamper the acting skills or spirits of the performers. Drama was well received by the people there.After having a delicious dinner, we retired early to recharge ourselves for day3 paada yatra.On the 3rd day, we started from Venkatapura village with great excitement.After walking 2 kilometres enjoying the scenic beauty and few interactions with the villagers on the way, we took a small break at Hanumanthanagar.A family gave us a spread of wholesome breakfast, including fruits and sweets which not only satiated our hunger but also filled our hearts. Bidding goodbye to them and taking their blessings, we resumed our walk. Children observed various insects, butterflies and birds on the way and did not miss clicking the pictures of a few rare ones.We halted under a colossal tree having extended branches. While some of us rested under the shade, others climbed the tree and swang on the branches like monkeys.On the way, we got Jackfruit treat and relished it very much. Children had a lot of fun playing with the monkeys and feeding them.Some of us visited a nearby govt school and had some interesting conversations with the teacher and children there.It was very heartening to get into conversations with the villagers on the way. Many were taken aback when they got to know that we are here to interact with them and to know more about the lives in the villages.We reached the village Nulugummanahalli and spent the evening at a temple which was constructed in 1931. Teachers gave relaxing legs and foot massages to the kids and children reciprocated the same to the elders.Bhajans sung by children and adults added charm and divinity to that evening.We had dinner at the temple and slept at a nearby hall. On the 4th day, we stayed at the same place and went to a nearby lake and did trekking.All the adults and kids thoroughly enjoyed the adventurous trekking and had great fun while climbing the rock-filled mountain.Kids went to all the houses to invite the residents there for the drama; This time the drama was performed inside the hall and villagers absolutely liked it.Owing to Guru purnima, we visited the Chamundeswari temple which was 2 kilometres from the place where we stayed. We could not stay there for long.After having a sumptuous meal from there, we returned to the hall where we stayed and slept early preparing for the last leg of the yatra.It was the last day and some of us were already feeling sad that the yatra is coming to an end. The plan was to head back to Bangalore by 2 pm, so we started our day early. We packed the cooked breakfast and headed to Bheemeswara betta.All of us were very eager to drink the clear , tasty water from the streams we spotted on the way. Kids were gathering different types of leaves and eating various edible berries on the pathway. We did not miss any opportunity to pluck the fruits such as Mangoes, Jamuns etc. on the way as we are used to only seeing them in the racks of super markets.Few of us witnessed a scene of a rat snake trying to swallow a live rabbit. The weather was very fine and pleasant, welcoming and motivating us to continue the strides.
After trekking a mountain for a few kilometres we reached a village where we were offered tea and biscuits.While we were almost nearing the destination, we had another fun of getting drenched in the rain. Using the available tarpaulin as a protection against the rain, we saved ourselves from getting wet. The sudden unexpected rains also taught us how to deal with an adverse situation with a smile. None of us got into a panic situation, rather we took it as an opportunity to have more fun.
Walking through the corn fields and flower fields, singing songs, having conversations with others, clicking photos, plucking berries, we reached Marali mannige farm around 3 pm. It was Manasvi’s and Manju anna’s birthday, We wished them by singing “janmadinam idam” and had birthday sweets and lunch.Yatra was concluded with 15 adults and 20 children walking through 16 villages covering about 40kms for 5 days. Bidding farewell was difficult as we all were together for almost a week , living a simple life, depending on the villagers’ hospitality, adjusting to the situations and embracing the uncertainties in the journey. It was even more special as we had 3 generations participating in the yatra, from 5 year old kid to 65 year old grandmother – without an iota of complaint/concern. Missed to mention the company of Kencha, the dog who was a constant companion throughout our trip, he bore the brunt of getting attacked by the dogs in all these different villages , yet he followed us without giving up.Another interesting factor was about the time – though all of us had mobiles with us, we were not at all bothered to check the time and it was more like following the motto “Take life as it comes”.
We headed back to Bangalore with so many nice memories of the trip and awaiting for the next Paada yatra.I would call it a yatra having all the elements of fun, adventure, spirituality, life integrated education and much more. Looking forward to the next one!