By Hari Narayana Das
The ‘JAKARNAVAL -2015’ or the annual Jakarta Carnival on June 7, 2015, celebrating the 488th anniversary of Jakarta was the venue for this year’s Sri Jagannatha Ratha Yatra Festival at Jakarta, Indonesia. The theme of the carnival was ‘Colorful Jakarta’ and the chariot of Lord Jagannatha pulled by so many devotees not only added a special color to the carnival but also gave a distinct flavor and taste to the celebration. By the blessings of Lord Jagannatha and Srila Prabhupada, the 4th Jagannatha Ratha Yatra in Jakarta was wonderfully performed leaving fond memories in the hearts and minds of the devotees.
The capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta, for the fourth time got the mercy from Their Lordships Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subadra Devi Who graced the Jakarnaval, 2015. Interestingly, devotees in New Nilacala Dham, Jakarta, received a formal invitation from the government officials to participate in the event with our chariot. And Lord Jagannatha accepted their invitation. The Lord of the Universe agreed to go out in the parade and bless all the people there irrespective of their background, caste or creed.
As Srila prabhupa mention on his lecture that “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 Krishna.” (SP lecture on Bhagavad-gita 1.10-London, July 12, 1973)
Arrangements began and invitations were sent out to all devotees in Indonesia to participate in the Ratha Yatra festival and avail the opportunity to render service to Lord Jagannath. Many devotees came forward to help and assist in different capacities. They were so eager that many of them came on their own and spontaneously began to take up all kinds of services starting from decorating the chariot, making garlands cooking and whatever devotional activities they could they do for the satisfaction of the Lord. They knew that through the festival all their senses were engaged in the service of the Lord. As Srila Prabhupada stated on his lecture that “So this festival, taking part in these festivals means a step forward for our self-realization. Rathe ca vamanam drstva punar janma na vijayate. Simply by seeing the Lord on the chariot, one makes advancement for stopping the repetition of birth and death. (lecture on Ratha-yatra-London, July 13, 1972).
A day before ratha yatra, the chariot was brought from Depok to the Nilacala dham, Jakarta. The chariot team led by Sadhu Jivana prabhu checked the chariot and made some adjustments. They re-painted the dome cover and the mechanic worked on the engine of the chariot. When assured that everything was ok, they started to decorate the chariot. Flower garlands and lamps were placed on the chariot along with many other paraphernalia. The chariot looked so gorgeous with all the ornaments on it. Afterwards, the devotees prepared the yajna kunda for the fire sacrifice. Sriman Shyamsundar das brahmacari from Mayapur especially came with H.H. Subhag Maharaj to give directions to the devotees how to make the preparations for the yajna. It was more or less like a lecture session where the devotees learn the intricacies of arranging and conducting a fire sacrifice. H.H. Subhag Swami Maharaj arrived a few days before the festival to inspire the devotees.
Early morning on the day of the ratha yatra, devotees took part in the fire sacrifice led by Shyamsundar Prabhu. Director of Hindu Society and counselor, Prof. Drs. I Ketut Widnya. M.A. M.Phil., Ph.D. also attended the yajna after which devotees greeted the Lord, chanting and dancing in ecstasy. After a wonderful kirtan led by Maharathi prabhu, all devotees listened to a brief class by H.H. Subhag Swami Maharaj where Maharaj narrated the journey of Srila prbhupada to the western country and how the Ratha yatra took place there for the first time and spread afterward to all over the world. And Maharaj pointed out that now some big cities in Indonesia are also accepting the blessing of the Lord through Jagannath Ratha Yatra.
At 10.00 am local time,The devotees started the ratha yatra by doing pahandi vijay or bringing Their Lordships to the Chariot with devotees chanting respective pranam mantras for the deities. After the bhoga offering, H.H. Subhag Swami Maharaj offred arati to the Lord and all devotees sang jagannatha astakam lead by Sesa prabhu in melodious tunes. After arati Maharaj offer coconut to the Lord to begin the ratha yatra, Maharaj swept the road on which the Lord was to come out.
The chariot and devotees were assisted by police especially employed to help the chariot come safely from the temple to the parade ground at Monas (Monumen Nasional). In the procession, first were the children who held the Jagannatha flags and Maha Mantra banners, then the dancer team, the decorated car with the sound system to support the Kirtan team, the Lord’s chariot and last, the decorated car with 1.5 tons of orange donated by Dhina Darini Mataji already offered to the lord and ready for distribution.
The Lord’s procession to the start point of the Jakarnaval attracted many people. They curiously wanted to know what was going on and ran out from their offices to the street. They were amazed to see the Lord on the chariot and more surprised when the devotees gave them maha prasadam of the Lord. Arriving at the Monas, the sun was shining brightly and the weather became very hot, then the generator broke down. Still devotees kept the kirtan running. To the relief of all, there was suddenly a heavy downpour for a short while thus cleaning the road for the chariot to come.
The MC announced that the participants from the Hare Krishna communities of Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tanggerang, and Bekasi) and from other parts of Indonesia had arrived and this invited big applause from the visitors. The governor of Jakarta, Basuki Cahaya Purnama was smiling when on the stage devotees with Subhag Maharaj went up to present a flower garland. He immediately recognized that the devotees had again made it to the Jakcarnival. He accepted the flower garland already offered to the Lord and a Bhagavad-gita as It Is from H.H. Subhag Swami Maharaj on behalf of the committee.
The devotees who distributed the orange prasadam became very busy because the visitors were so eager to get the prasadam they came forward in a big crowd and tried to grab as many oranges as they could. Then chaos almost broke out but was prevented by the police officers and security personnels. All the 1.5 tons of orange finished in a very short time. Maharaj also distributed the prasadam. Some devotees did book distribution as well. As Srila Prabupad said in his letter….“as far as possible, distribute prasadam”(SPL to Jayapataka, 21st June, 1969). The carnival finished in front of Hotel Indonesia. The devotees were overjoyed and never felt tired even though the route they came was quite far. The committee prepared package rice prasadam for the devotees. They returned to the center by buses which were deputed for the purpose.
Everything came out so well just because of the arrangements and blessings of Srila Prabhupad who is certainly happy to see these ratha yatras. We thank HH Kavichandra Swami and HH Ramai Swami, the GBCs of Indonesia for their continuous support in increasing sankirtan all over Indonesia. We would like to especially thank HH Subhag Swami for inspiration and guidance in making the festival the most wonderful one and guiding us all to come closer to Prabhupada. We thank all the exceptional devotees of JABODETABEK because of whom this rathayatra became possible; the prasadam team(Lalit Krishna prabhu for the morning prasadam, Gaura Mandala prabhu and team for lunch prasadam, Sri sri radha govinda temple, Puncak Bogor for evening prasadam, and Sri Nila Cala Dham prasadam team lead by Susanggata mataji, Induleka mataji and Sukomala mataji); Brajanagara prabhu, bhakta Edy, Ragava das and their team for tireless service in preparing the chariot of Lord Jagannath. Our gratitude to the sankirtan team :Sesa prabhu and Maharathi Prabhu for their wonderful Kirtan. Our appreciation goes to Acyuta Krishna Prabhu and Made G Yagustana for the beautiful pictures; to Putu Dharma Metri, Dharma Kerti mataji, Dina Dharini mataji, and the dancer team. Our obeisances to all the unnamed devotees who wish to remain anonymous but gave their time and dedicated service to fill up all the gaps in arrangement for the festival and for their remarkable efforts to make this festival successful.
All glories to the sincere followers of Lord Jagannatha, all glories to Srila Prabhupada.
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