Rajkot: On July 18, the auspicious day of Ashadhi Bij as per Hinduism, India cricketer Ravindra Jadeja embarked on a 350-km padyatra from Jamnagar to the ancient pilgrim place of Matano Madh, where the Rajput community Goddess Ashapura presides in the arid Kutch. He is accompanied by his close friend as well as his father Aniruddhasinh Jadeja and Jadeja Sr's friends.
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Jadeja's elder sister Naina Jadeja said that though he does not perform puja and other such rituals regularly, he is very religious. "He has visited Matano Madh several times in the past. But this is the first time he has undertaken the pilgrimage on foot," she said. "He was very keen to go on a padyatra after becoming an India cricketer. But it was just not possible for want of time."
In order to avoid fans, Jadeja & Co walk the distance at night only. "They walk about 25 kms, or even more, depending on their mood and the weather," informed Naina. Jadeja does not eat or drink anything from roadside restaurants, hence a mini truck with food and their luggage is following the padyatris. A traveling cook prepares meals for the pilgrims.
Where does Ravindra stay during the day? "There's no dearth of Rajput families in Kutch. The moment they came to know that Ravindra, my father and others are on a pilgrimage to Matano Madh, they invited them to stay with them during their daily break. I'm told sometimes they, including Ravindra, stay and rest in the well-maintained and decorated truck itself. The vehicle is equipped with necessary facilities."
At the time of writing, Jadeja & Co have crossed Samakhiyali and are still about 180 km from their destination. They are likely to reach Matano Madh in eight to 10 days.