By Hari Narayana Das
Cilegon is a major coastal industrial city in Banten province, Indonesia. Also known as the "Steel City" due to its being the largest steel producing city in Southeast Asia. The annual Ciligeon Ethnic Carnival (CEC) took place on April 26th this year. Commemorating the 17th anniversary of Ciligeon, a variety of performances and arts were displayed in front of the Government Office. The theme of the event this year was "Ethnic Multi Cultural in Harmony". Participants from schools, art groups and interfaith communities gathered for the event. Seeing this golden opportunity, devotees approached the Indonesia Hindu Parisad (PHDI) of Cilegon to participate in the event by holding a Ratha Yatra festival. The PHDI immediately accepted the proposal and arrangements started for the Ratha Yatra.
"To implement this transcendental bliss to the people of your country there is immense work to be done ahead and this Rathayatra festival is only a bit of sample. If we get opportunity we shall be able to overflood your country with waves of transcendental bliss, by the Grace of Krishna." Letter to Aniruddha,7 July, 1968
At present there are only a couple of devotees, Bhakta Putu Parwata and his wife, who reside in Cligeon. They have a good relationship with Mrs . Wira who works as secretary in government office. She also communicated the ratha yatra to the local Hindu community and got the support of the local Hindus to help participate in the festival under the banner of Balinese culture. Hearing the good news from Cligeon, Indonesian leaders spread the word to all Indonesian devotees and requested all those who could to attend.
"This Rathayatra is one of the activities of Krishna. Therefore to take part in the Rathayatra festival means to associate with Krishna directly." London, July 13, 1972
Depok is situated around a 2 hours drive from Cligeon. Here at the house of Tapan Misra das, devotees from Bali, Malang, Kendari and other parts of Indonesia assembled to start preparations for the festival. The chariot was taken to Cligeon but unfortunately on the way there was a small accident. Devotees met up with the chariot and waited for the mechanic to repair the damaged car. Finally reaching Cligeon at 1 am, the chariot team reassembled the chariot.
The next day after Mangal arti, devotees finished last minute arrangements. The devotees wanted to surprise everyone by presenting Lord Jagannath on the CEC but it turned out that it was the devotees who were in for a surprise. The logo of the CEC Commitee had the Lord's lotus face on! After questioning the Committee members about why they chose to put the Lord's face on the logo, they answered that they were inspired from within!.
Lord Jagannnath, Balarama, and Subhadra devi took a 4 hour journey from Lampung and arrived in Cilegon at 7am. After being beautiful dressed in new outfits, bhoga and arati was offered. Coconuts were then broken in order to remove any inauspiciousness. The Lord was then pulled besides the stage of honour, as if He were a VIP!
Various participants presented their cultural performances in front of the stage of honour. It was as if they were presenting their acts as an offering to the Lord of the Universe, who was seated on His chariot next to the stage! During the performances, clouds started to gather and it started to rain. After the performances had finished the parade began with Jagannath and His entourage joining in.
Soon after the chariot was pulled, lighting was seen and thunder was heard, with the rain falling more heavily. Many people came forward to take Prasad from the devotees and within a short time the stock of Prasad ran out but still people wanted more! The melodious kirtan led by Sridhar das amazed all and inspired them to chant and dance along the whole route of the parade. When HH Kavicandra Swami got up on the chariot the kirtan turned up a notch. The sound system in charge commented, "Where do these guys get the energy to sing throughout the whole parade? I can't believe it!"
"You will be glad to know that we draw no distinction of caste, creed, or nationality. So if there is any possibility of uniting the whole human race under one religion, under one scripture, under one mantra, under one activity, then this movement will be active. Our mission is one God, Sri Krsna; one scripture Bhagavad-Gita; one mantra, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare and one activity, namely to serve Lord Krsna with life, wealth, intelligence, and words." Letter to Sri Hare-Krishna Aggarwal, 1st February, 1968
On behalf of all the devotees , we express our sincere gratitude to H.H. Kavichandra Swami and H.H. Ramai Swami, the GBCs of Indonesia for their support, guidance and encouragement at all times to increase the sankirtan movement in Indonesia. Our humble obeisances to H.H. Subhag Swami for inspiring us with the life and dedication of Sriman Jayananda Prabhu, for helping us realize the importance of Srila Prabhupada in our lives and keeping us united in family of ISKCON. We offer our humble obeisances to Srila Prabhupada again and again for showering his unlimited mercy upon the devotees and keeping us engaged in the movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.