By Hari Narayana Das
The annual Bandung Light festival to commemorate the anniversary of Bandung city this year was celebrated on October 09, 2016. The grand festival was attended by most people in Bandung. This public festival was a chance for the devotees to introduce the Hare Krishna movement in Bandung. As Srila Prabhupada mention in his letter that “The time is fast approaching when we will have to perform such public kirtana in all the important cities of the world. Here also, in the Expo, they have performed kirtana for two days, and it is wonderfully successful.” (SPL to Yamunä, July, 1968). The devotees did ratha yatra on the festival and this was the third Jagannath Ratha-yatra held in Bandung.
When the month of October approached many devotees in Indonesia asked, “where will Ratha yatra be done this month?” because many devotees are used to participating in the ratha yatra in Indonesia at least once in every month. They have tasted the sweetness of the association of the Lord on the Jagannath Ratha-yatra. As Srila Prabhupada stated that “This Rathayäträ is one of the activities of Krishna. Therefore to take part in the Rathayäträ festival means to associate with Krishna directly. SP lecture on Ratha-yäträ;London, July 13, 1972”
A news came from Lokanath prabhu in Bandung. he informed that the light festival would be held on 9 October 2016, and it was only 5 days left. This made the devotees make express arrangements for the festival. The preparation was discussed through social media because only a handfull of devotees stayed in Bandung. The manager of Ratha-yatra Nusantara called all team to come to Bandung and many came forward to help. Garuda prabhu and his team fromJogjakarta along with Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram, and Their beloved sister Subhadra Devi also came to Bandung.
The devotees from various part of Indonesia arrived a day before the festival. They brought the necessary ingredients that were needed for the festival which were not available in Bandung. The chariot also arrived on the same day and the chariot team started to reassemble the chariot. The rain started to fall when they started to decorate the chariot. They skipped the work until the next morning. Early in the morning, the devotees started the work again. The sky was blue and even there was no any cloud hanging in the space, very peaceful. Some devotees did Harinam Sankirtan in the Gazebo field where there was car free day program. Lokanath prabhu told that the theme of the festival was “Robotic and Galaxy” and the devotees thought for a moment what would they make for this. Then the idea came that the horses of the chariot should be modified into flying horses “Pegasus”. Matsya prabhu started the work to make two pairs of the wing. Under his guidance, the devotees helped him to finish the wings.
When the preparation was ready, Indradev again gave his mercy. A heavy rain started falling and the devotees hope that the rain would stop when the festival started. This time the Lord had other plan for the devotees. Until the time of the Lords were carried to the chariot, the rain continued relentlessly . A thunderbolt also heard when the Lord was brought on the chariot. The devotees pulled the chariot under the heavy rain to the Gazebo field in front of Gedung sate.
The spirit of the devotees never faded out even under the heavy rain. The Hare Krishna Maha Mantra lead by Sridhar prabhu, filled the entire atmosphere while other participants quite without any activity were waiting for the start. At 07.00 Pm. the carnival started. One by one participants headed to the main road of Bandung. Remembering the Lord’s pastime of Govardhan Lila, the devotees cheerfully pulled the lord’s chariot under the heavy rain. A ton of oranges that was already offered to the Lord donated by Dhina darini Mataji were distributed to the people who saw the festival. The euphoria of the devotees attracted three girls from other faiths who enthusiastically sang and dance in front of Lord. They also gave a helping hand in distributing the prasadam.
When the chariot entered the Asia-Africa Street, the rain stopped. The devotees adjusted their formation of the line before entering the main stage. Entering the main stage, not like other participants who welcomed by the host, the mayor of Bandung, Mr. Ridwan Kamil personally greeted and welcomed the Lord. He said to the audience that the community of Hare Krishna always participated in the light festival and he also requested the audience to give applause to the devotees. The Lord’s chariot also gave a shock to the guests on the stage because they were worried that the doom of the chariot was higher than the advertisement board. They were puzzled how could the chariot with chariot it’s high canopy pass under the advertisement board? Suddenly the dome came down slowly and it invited the applause from the audience one more time..
“Try to make this Hare Krishna movement popular through any source that is possible. That is our business.” (SPL to Syämasundara, 29th June 1969)”
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 his inspiration and always reminding us of the importance of the Sankirtan movement of Mahaprabu and for inspiring us with the dedication of Sriman Jayananda Prabhu, for bringing us closer to Srila Prabhupada and keeping us united in family of ISKCON.
For more photos: https://goo.gl/dtKzFg