By Hari Narayana Das
Medan received causeless mercy from Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Devi on the auspicious day of Purnima on the second Ratha yatra that was held on April 4th 2015. At that time was lunar eclipse. It was reminding us about the original ratha yatra when Lord Krsna went to take bath in Kuruksetra on solar eclipse along with His elder brother and younger sister and all inhabitants of Dwaraka. Srila Prabhupada mentions in his letter that "....if simply by narrating the crucifixion incident of Lord Jesus Christ, the Roman Catholic religion can spread to such a wide area of the world, how much there is great potency of spreading our Krsna consciousness by depicting hundreds of thousands of such incidents like Ratha-yatra." (SPL to Aniruddha, 7th July, 1968).
A day before ratha yatra the devotees in Medan performed the cornerstone laying ceremony for the new centre and also placed a deity of Anantasesa at the foundation of the temple. Srimat Subhag Swami was personally present to see that everything was done to meet Prabhupada's standard. As srila prabhupada wrote in his letter "Whenever there is a new branch of our society for Krsna consciousness I become very, very happy, and my blessings in heart and soul are with you. I went to your country for spreading this information of Krsna consciousness and you are helping me in my mission although I am not physically present there but spiritually I am always with you. Our procedure is very simple and consistent. We chant, we read from Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam and we distribute prasadam." (SPL to Nandarani, Krsna devi, Subala and Uddhava, 3rd October, 1967).
One of Srila Prabhupada mission was to open many such branches of Krishna consciousness outside India as he mention in his letter to Brahmananda, 22nd October, 1967, "....Similarly, we should be enthusiastic to open different branches in different parts of the world other than India. In India they are opening many such branches, but our responsibility is to open branches outside India." Maharaja came a day before the event at the location to check the preparation. Some devotees who came from Bali and Jakarta also helped in the preparation including in digging the foundation. On April 3rd, 2015 the ritual started at 09.00 am local time. A fire sacrifice led by sriman syamasundarananda das Brahmacari, a senior Brahmacari from Mayapur, was held to invoke auspiciousness and invite the Lord to be kindly present and remain to protect the future ashram. The breeze brought a cool atmosphere, the sky was clear and it was sign of all auspiciousness. The bhajan team led by Sundar Gopal das Brahmacari sang melodious Hare Krishna Maha Mantra that created a spiritual atmosphere. Many important guests from Medan also came to attend the function. The government authorities also appreciated the plan to build a temple in Medan. Director of Hindu Society and counselor, Prof. Drs. I Ketut Widnya. M.A. M.Phil., Ph.D. as the representation of the government came directly from Jakarta and pledged his firm support for the new center.
Next day would be the biggest challenge. Devotees went back from the installation ceremony straight to the spot of the Ratha Yatra in the main City and worked whole night to set up the pandal and decorate the Ratha. Indeed they forgot sleep. The Deities of Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra graciously accepted Their place on the altar. Very soon the whole pandal was full of people. The Mayor also arrived there. Offerings of cultural items gave a wonderful taste to the festival: there were a Bharat natyam performance and Dasa Avatara dance. Srila Prabhupada wrote in his letter that "....starting from noon and going on until after evening. So it was a most magnificent occasion, and I am very much encouraged that the people of the Western world will come to understand the glories of this movement, and as Lord Caitanya predicted, His name will be chanted and praised in every town and village throughout the world" (SPL to Krsna dasa, 28th July, 1969)
Mr. Dzulmi Eldin, the Mayor of Medan, expressed that the Ratha Yatra festival serves as a means to bring all the culturally distinct people together on a common platform of peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding and therefore the Government earnestly supports the Jagannatha Ratha Yatra festival. He also said that the Hindu communities in Medan will get holiday for celebrating Dipavali festival.
Other guest who came on to the festival were Vrajendra das- the leader of SAKKHI (representative of ISKCON in Indonesia), leader of Muslim society of Medan, Head of Medan Tourism Department, Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association, Head of Medan Educational Department, leader of Hindu society of Medan, Mr. Siwaji Raja, and the head of the Hindu Parisad Pedanda Sebali Tianyar Arimbawa. Srimat Subhag Swami, on behalf of the organizing committee, presented a souvenir to all the honored guests. Many devotees from other countries also came to participate in the Ratha-yatra festival.
After Lord Jagannath, Balarama, and Subradra Devi sat on the chariot that was glowing brightly, They were offered bhogas and arati. After the arati the guest were given coconut with camphor lamp to offer to the Lord. Then the chariot was pulled by almost 2000 bhaktas who mostly Indians and devotees with tumultuous kirtan and everyone chanting 'Jay Jaganntha, Jay Baladeva, JaySubhadra". Maharaja and the guests were given first opportunity to pull the chariot. They were so joyful. The kirtan party sang the Hare Krishna mahamatra melodiously all throughout the procession. All the devotees were so happy and blissful with the high and unexpected attendance. Many time the Lord's chariot had to stop to receive offerings from bhaktas whose residences were on route where the Lord passed through. The Ratha yatra also attracted people from different faiths. People left their activities in the shopping malls and ran out just to see the festival. The ratha yatra lasted till 11 at night.
The festival was reported by local and National Medias. Besides Srila Prabhupada's books the devotees also distributed 1000 packages of rice prasadam and fruits to the audience. As srila prabupad said in his letter.... "as far as possible, distribute prasadam" (SPL to Jayapataka, 21st June, 1969)
"Just like the other day we held the festival, Ratha-yatra. Chant and take prasadam. That's all. Organize this all over the world. They will be saved. They will understand Krsna." (SP Lecture on BG 1.10 -- London, July 12, 1973)
We hope that Prabhupad is pleased and bless the devotees who organize such a wonderful Ratha-yatra. Srila Prabhupada mentioned in his letter that " I thank you all very much for making the rathayatra festival so successful. Please convey my gratitude to all the boys and girls who participated in this great transcendental service."(SPL to Upendra, 4th July 1968).
The organizers of the Ratha Yatra committee would like to offer their obeisances to His Holiness Kavichadra Swami and His Holiness Ramai Swami, the GBCs for Indonesia. We are grateful for their support and for constantly guiding us in pushing forward Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Sankirtan movement. We are also extremely grateful to His Holiness Srimad Subhag Swami Maharaja who has been inspiring us to explore new frontiers in preaching and performing this Jagannath Ratha Yatra in every city in Indonesia for the pleasure of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Our gratitude to leader of SAKKHI (representative of ISKCON in Indonesia) of Medan, Sriman Maniwelen, and all the Medan Devotees. Our gratitude to the prasadam team led by Sanjaya das. Our gratitude to Chariot team- Bhakta Edi, Sadhu Jivana das, Sudhakara das and his team for their hard work in preparing the chariot for the Lord. Our gratitude to Guru Charan prabhu and Karabhajan prabhu for their great support. Our gratitude to sankirtan team -Sundar Gopal brahmacari, the bhajan team for their wonderful kirtan. Our gratitude to Achyuta Krishna das, Nara Narayan das and Brajanabha das for contributing beautiful pictures of the festival.
Jaya Sri Sri Jagannath Baladev Subadra Maharani Ki Jaya!
Jaya Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra Utsava Ki Jaya!
Jaya Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Ki Jaya!
Jaya Srila Prabhupada Ki Jaya!