Anuttama das : 1975 was the first year that everyone practically who was a devotee for some time got to go to India. They had an initial first festival in '74 and it was more or less the senior devotees, leaders, temple presidents; but '75 was open to everyone. All the devotees went together on the same plane, leaving out of New York. We all sat together. The middle section was all devotees, New York devotees and the other cities nearby. During the flight, we would have kirtan because we loved kirtan. The devotees would get in the aisles of the plane and we'd be jumping and chanting, and the plane would start to move back and forth. And the captain had to make an announcement, "Please take your seats, you're disturbing the plane."
Prasadam was provided by the temple. We all brought packaged prasadam. When we stopped in London, the London devotees all met us at the airport and brought us more prasadam; and this was Radha-Londonisvara prasadam, and that was very special because most of us had never been to Europe before. Then we arrived in Calcutta and I remember them saying that this was the first 747 to land in Calcutta Dum Dum Airport, and it was half full of devotees. It was an Air India flight because I remember on the inside of the plane they had the depictions of the Rasa-lila as the decorations on the walls, Krishna and the gopis, and the stewardesses all wore saris. Everything was new, everything was fresh.
We were all very happy because we were in the holy land and everything was transcendental. The Ganges was there, the birthplace of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the center of ISKCON. Prabhupada's desire was to have Mayapur as the world headquarters. And to be with all the senior devotees, all the sannyasis, to be with Srila Prabhupada. Most of us had come from smaller temples. A lot of temples were 10, 15 devotees. I was in New York, we had a lot of devotees, but a lot of temples were small. So to be with this many devotees was very special. And nonstop classes with Prabhupada, going to special holy places, bathing in the Ganges, reading the Caitanya-caritamrta for the first time, this was like a trip to the spiritual world. It was something very special.