By Hari Narayana Das
The annual of Krakatau festival which went on for almost a week was closed with the Lampung Cultural Carnival on 30 August 2015, centralized in Mahan Agung at Dr. Soesilo Street, North Teluk Betung . The carnival was followed by hundreds of participants from various parts of Lampung and other parts of Indonesia. The Lord of universe, Lord Jagannath also took part in the carnival just to shower His mercy to the people of Lampung on His Ratha yatra and established the presence of the Hare Krishna devotees in Lampung.
The devotees in Lampung used to eagerly participate in ratha yatras in other parts of Indonesia and thus became very enthusiastic to have a Ratha yatra festival in Lampung itself. When they participated in Jakarta ratha yatra this year they expressed their eagerness to serve Lord Jagannath on Ratha yatra in Lampung. They made a discussion with the coordinator of Nusantara (All islands of Indonesia) Ratha yatra, Tapana Misra prabhu and other devotees and decided to do ratha yatra in Lampung.
Most devotees in Lampung reside in the Vaisnava Village named Gita Nagari Baru (GNB) translated as 'New Gita Nagari', two hours from the capital city of Lampung, where 30 families comprising more than 150 sincere hard working devotees make the whole place vibrant with life. The GNB, a Varnasrama farm community, was established under the supervision of H.H. Bhakti Raghava Swami Maharaj in 1999 to implement Srila Prabhupada's instruction, 'institute Varnasrama dharma'. Only some young devotee students reside in the city area of Bandar Lampung at Prahlad and Kunti Devi preaching centers meant for the boys and girls respectively.
Make the Ratha-yatra festival very great success. This will be a great introduction in your city and people will appreciate it . SPL to Syamasundara, 4th May, 1967
Understanding the letter of Srila Prabhupada and desiring to serve him, the devotees tried hard to search out when would be the suitable time to do ratha yatra. The human resources ministry in Bandar Lampung restricted them to have a grand ratha yatra festival but due to their humble prayer, the Lord answered them...encouraging their eagerness to serve Him. When they came to know that The Krakatau Festival was being followed by many other cultural participants, devotees submitted a proposal to the committee requesting permission to participate in the carnival. The committee accepted. Now..... the devotees were puzzled considering how they were going to prepare the chariot.
"Krsna is sufficiently powerful and able to give facilities to His devotees provided a devotee works very sincerely to please Him. We shall always keep this motto in our view" SPL to Syama dasi, 30th March, 1969
They called Tapana Misra prabhu and asked for a solution. During his visit to GNB Lampung few years back, H.H. Subhag Maharaj had once inquired about the possibility of having ratha yatra in Lampung. It appeared as if some plan of Lord Jagannath was beginning to manifest.
The news of ratha yatra preparations in Lampung spread fast through social media. The chariot team was called in and asked to prepare the chariot. The chariot was prepared in Jember, East Java, which was then to be sent to Lampung. Brajanagara prabhu, Sadhu Jivana prabhu, Ragava prabhu, and bhakta Edy prabhu prepared a beautiful chariot for the Lord. "Then with this taste of Krsna consciousness, we become more and more attracted so more and more, Krsna gives encouragement, and then more and more we increase in our desire to serve Krsna" SPL to Krsna devi, 15th June, 1969.
Help and assistance began to pour in from many devotees. After the construction of the chariot, the team went along with the chariot to Lampung for the reassembly. Brajanagara prabhu also carved the deities and They were beautifully painted by Sadhu Jivana prabhu.
On the day of the festival the devotees decorated the chariot with colorful flowers and it made many people who passed in front of Pupuk Sriwijaya (Pusri) office completely astonished to see something so extraordinary. Pusri office was the place where the devotees prepared for the ratha yatra festival ahead of participating in the carnival.
At 11.00 am the deities arrived and were placed on the chariot. A traditional Malay dance performed by girls from Gita Nagari Baru Village welcomed the guests. Mr. KS Arsana, S.Pi., of Hindu Parisad Indonesia expressed his happiness that as a leader of Indonesia Hindu Prisad could come and participate in the ratha yatra and said that this Ratha yatra festival gives a reflection of the diversity of Hindus in Nusantara. He also gave appreciation to the devotees who worked hard preparing the festival. Mr. Komang Koheri, S.E., member of Lampung Parliament, in his speech said that in particular he prepared to come to the ratha yatra and join with the devotees rather than share the stage with prominent dignitaries. Other important guests included Mr. Nengah Maharta, M.Si., leader of Hindu Parisad, Lampung Province, and Mr. Nyoman Sudiarsa, S.Sg. M.Pd., Director and Counsellor of Hindu Society, Lampung. A Recorded Class by H.H. Subhag Swami Maharaj translated by Gadhadar prabhu fired up the spirit of the devotees. A Balinese dance and Gopi dance were performed for the pleasure of the Lord. Three different cultures united in front of Lord Jagannath.
At 03.00 pm Their Lordships were offered arati along with chanting of the Jagannathastakam. The guests offered camphor lamps placed on coconut to Their Lordship. Then the devotees pulled the chariot to the Dr. Soesilo Street to join the festival parade. As the parade commenced, all the participants who had come from different parts of Lampung and other parts of Indonesia displayed their attractive performances in front of the stage of honors. In the parade, Lord Jagannath, Balarama, and Subadra devi passed through the city of Lampung. When the Lord's chariot came in front of the stage, the MC announced that Jagannath's chariot was wonderful and the biggest contingent followed by more than 300 devotees. All people there gave a big applause. On behalf of devotees Mr. Komang Koheri presented a copy of Bhagavad-gita as it is to the Governor of Lampung, Mr. M. Ridho Ficardo and Assistant Deputy Ministry of tourism, development of tourism and the Creative Economy, Mr. Lokot Ahmad Endar.
One ton of oranges donated by Dina Dharini mataji was offered to Lord Jagannatah and was distributed to all the onlookers. Within a short time the stock of prasadam ran out but still more and more people were coming to see Jagannatha and were asking for prasadam. The Kirtan group led by Sesa prabhu sang the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra all the way that could be heard by all people in Lampung city. After two hours journey, the Lord arrived in the parking area of Lampung art market. At the end all devotees honored prasadam that already prepared by the committee. The book distribution team lead by Rama Gopal prabhu and Bhakta Made Yagustana distributed 78 Srila Prabhupada's books.
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). He also blessed all devotees as he stated in his other letter that "may Krishna bless you all for your sincere service that you may all go on making more and more advancement in Krishna Consciousness." (SPL to Jayananda das, 19th July, 1976).
We would like to take this opportunity to thank HH Bhakti Raghava Swami for his blessings and encouragement which were so essential for the devotees. Our ever grateful obeisances are due to HH Kavichandra Swami and HH Ramai Swami, the GBCs of Indonesia, for their support and guidance to always look for new avenues for sankirtan. Our humble obeisances to HH Subhag Swami for always reminding us of the importance of the Sankirtan movement of Mahaprabu and inspiring us with the dedication of Sriman Jayananda Prabhu, for bringing us closer to Srila Prabhupada and keeping us united in family of ISKCON. Our gratitude to Leader of Indonesia Hindu Parisad, and all Lampung devotees who worked hard for the success of the festival, Atvata dasa, Santa Kumara dasa, Yadava dasa, Jadabharata dasa, Kesava dasa, Krishna Prema dasa, Dharmatma Dasa, Sudharsan dasa, Janesvara dasa, Teja Vrsaya dasa, Visvakarma dasa, Narayani devi dasi, Vibawati devil dasi, Mrganitri devi dasi, bhakta Gede, Dharmaraj dasa, Dhananjaya dasa, Radha Govinda devi dasi, bhaktin Ganga. , Sarvajnana dasa, Ganga Narayana dasa, Pak Kadek Sayang, Vyasa deva, Sruta Deva dasa, Kalindi devi dasi, Vainateya dasa, Bhakta Mesi, Vamana dasa, Trivikrama dasa, dan Budi Yoga Dasa.