First Ratha Yatra in Tanggamus, Lampung, Indonesia
By Hari Narayana Das
Kota Agung is a small town located in Tanggamus, Lampung. Being the capital, it is also the most important city in Lampung. Situated at the foot of Mount Tanggamus and nearby the Gulf Coast Semaka it stands as a beautiful location for tourists. At present there are no devotees living in Tanggamus. Those who do live in Lampung, live in the ‘Gita Nagari Baru’ farm community established by HH Bhakti Raghava Swami, a five hours drive from Tanggamus!
Devotees in Indonesia received an invitation from the Tanggamus Government a few weeks prior, requesting to hold a Ratha Yatra festival there. The Government were to hold a public festival called ‘Teluk Semaka’ on the 21st Of November. The aim of the festival was to promote tourism and cultural diversity in Lampung. Devotees were ecstatic upon receiving the news and immediately made arrangements to head to Lampung. It was definitely the Lord’s mercy upon the residents of Kota Agung giving them an opportunity to come in contact with Krsna Consciousness.
”Nothing is impossible for the Supreme Lord, but all His actions are wonderful for us, and thus He is always beyond the range of our conceivable limits” SP SB 1.8.16 Purport
The journey to Kota Agung through Mount Tanggamus was not the easiest. Most devotees arrived from other parts of Indonesia the day before the festival. The chariot team assembled the Lord’s cart in the city garden.
The next morning, Jagannath, along with Baladeva and Subhadra arrived along with a group of enthusiastic devotees. Final bits and pieces were put together and all was good to go. At 11.00am devotees gathered in front of Their Lordships and arati was performed. The sun shone brightly creating a peaceful atmosphere for all. Kirtan was then sung until the parade began. At 3pm, devotees pulled the chariot to the local fields, the starting point of the parade. Many locals were surprised as they had never seen Jagannath or Vaisnavas before and started to take pictures.
“If we get opportunity we shall be able to overflood your country with the waves of transcendental bliss, by the grace of Krsna.”- SPL to Aniruddha, 7th July, 1968
Finally the festival started and Jagannath’s chariot got moving. The Mayor of Tanggamus was also present at the festival. Great appreciation was shown for the Lord when He entered the stage of honor along with the other acts. The Ratha Yatra committee presented the Mayor a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and a flower garland offered to the Lord. Things really got going when the chariot reached the main road. Whilst other participants slowed down to display their acts to the public, devotees turned the kirtan up a notch leaving the public struck with wonder. The chariot was pulled around the city thus giving everyone a chance to take darshan of the Lord. One ton of oranges, kindly donated by Dina Dharini devi dasi, was offered to the Lord and distributed to all. Within a short time all the oranges ran out and still people were asking for prasadam! A group of students followed the Ratha the whole journey and also chanted with the devotees. One student commented, “This is an unforgettable experience. I am so glad we can just sing and dance freely, it makes me so happy!” The kirtan party, led by Premadhana das melodiously chanted the maha mantra throughout the festival allowing all the chance to hear the holy names.
“It doesn’t matter if you can or cannot establish a temple there, but if you can introduce the Ratha-yatra, surely it will be a great success. So try to execute this will as far as possible.” (SPL to Yamuna, 27th May 1969)
We would like to take this opportunity to thank HH Bhakti Raghava Swami for his blessings and encouragement. Our respects to HH Kavicandra 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 Mahaprabhu 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. We thank the leaders of Indonesia Hindu Parisad. Finally, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the Lampung devotees who worked hard for the success of the festival. They are as follows: Atvata dasa, Santa Kumara 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 and Buddhi Yoga Dasa.
We hope that we can hold more festivals here in the years to come.
Jay Srila Prabhupada