Jagannatha Ratha Yatra and Yoga Festival, Batam, Indonesia
By Hari Narayana das
Srila Prabhupada’s mercy is simply wonderful. It is said that Lord Jagannatha’s mercy too is simply wonderful. For those who come take darshan of Lord Jagannatha, they are sure to get unlimited mercy, unlimited mahaprasadam and unlimited bliss. And for those who cannot come to take His darshan, Lord Jagannatha has special arrangements for them: He sends His own mercy personified in the form of Srila Prabhupada to start Ratha Yatras in all those unlikely places and thus give His darshan to those who cannot come to see Him.
In 2013, Lord Jagannatha manifested Himself at Batam, an island in the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia, by the combined efforts of the dedicated devotees of Indonesia to organise the first ratha yatra in Batam which was highly appreciated by the then Mayor of the island city who invited the devotees to organise the ratha yatra every year in Batam.
December 2015. This year’s Batam ratha yatra was targeted to attract a larger crowd than the previous years. The ‘Jagannatha Ratha yatra and Yoga festival’ in colaboration with the Wajah Batam Expo was a great success mainly because of the good behavior and well- organised team efforts of the devotees in presenting Krishna consciousness. It makes others happy and encourages them to give a hand to support every program in spreading Hare Krishna movement. The Batam Devotees who did ratha yatra on December 11, 2016, was supported by Wajah Batam, a non-government organization in Batam, Indonesia. As Srila Prabhupada mentioned in his letter that “So all these variety shows will be so attractive with melodious musical sounds, and above all our good behavior and advanced Krishna consciousness will make this show very successful.” SPL to Hamsadüta, 4th March, 1968.
A day before ratha yatra, in the field of Engku Putri field, the chariot team did preparation for the chariot. They worked tirelessly until midnight. Because of the rainfall, they skipped the work until the following morning. Arriving from Bali and Jakarta the devotees directly gave a hand to prepare the festival. They made garlands and assisted the chariot team to prepare the chariot.
“Your enthusiasm is very encouraging to me. There is a great need for spreading of Krsna consciousness and we need so many enthusiastic boys and girls for carrying on this great mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.” SPL to Karunamayi, 25th February, 1968
In the evening, on Moksada Ekadasi, the devotees arranged Gita-jayanti festival to celebrate the appearance of Bhagavad gita. The devotees and local Hindu community in Batam organised a Bhagavad-gita competition at Pura Agung Amerta Bhuana temple. The competition was opened by the head of the Batam Hindu Parisad. A brief glorification of the the Bhagavad-gita was presented by H.H. Atmanivedana Swami Maharaja.
Early in the morning, the devotees went to Engku Putri field, where the ratha yatra festival would be held. That morning many Batam’s citizens came for exercise in that area. The devotees made final adjustment for the chariot. Devotees from Singapore arrived in the morning for the festival. Meanwhile the devotees made final preparations for the yoga festival behind the stage, many people participated in the yoga festival which continued till 8.00 in the morning. All the participants were offered maha prasadam: sweets, cookies and other items. All of them including the committee from Wajah Batam including many visitors from other faiths delightfully enjoyed the maha prasadadam. Within a short time devotees ran out of prasadam. After the devotees broke the Ekadasi fasting, they started the ratha yatra ceremony. Melodious kirtan lead by Sundar Gopal das invoked the spiritual atmosphere in the Engku Putri field. Lord Jagannath, Loard Balarama, and Subadra Devi, gorgeously sat on the chariot. People became jolly when they notice The Lord on the chariot. They lined up queue to take pictures in front of the Chariot.
At 09.00 am the ceremony started. A mataji from Singapore presented bharata natyam dance before Lord Jaganath. The surrounding stage was suddenly crowded with people who wanted to see the dance. Then after the dance, H.H. Atmanivedana Swami Maharaja offered Arati to the Lord, coconuts were offered to the Lord to invoke Auspiciousness. A group of Scout Boys and Girl noticed the ceremony and asked the devotees about it. Then they got the explanation and some of them expressed their interest to participate in the Ratha yatra festival.
The Lord’s chariot was then pulled to the main road of Batam. The kirtan was led by the Bangladesh devotees who came from Singapore. The thunderous kirtan filled the entire city with Hare Krishna Mahamantra. The devotees cheerfully danced along the way and and people who noticed it became happy and some of them also participated with the devotees.
Returning from the ratha yatra, Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra were welcomed by Balinese dance performed by devotees. A speech was given by the leader of Batam Hindu Parisad. He really appreciated the ratha yatra program. H.H. Atmanivedana Swami also gave short class about the glories Jagannath Ratha yatra. The festival was closed by prasadam seva. After prasadam seva the devotees did kirtan and all devotees and committee from Wajah Batam sang and dance in the ocean of melodius Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Devotees also did book distribution.
“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 in pure Krsna consciousness. So in this way there is an unlimited ocean of nectar of devotional service which eternally increases on and on.” SPL to Krsna devi, 15th June, 1969
“I thank you all very much for making the Ratha-yatra 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
In short interview with the presiden of Wajah Batam Mr. Suharsad, he expressed his jubilant feelings about the festival that day, he also said that it was a special day for the ratha yatra festival in Batam Expo. He added that Wajah Batam would facilitate if devotees make other festivals in future.
“If they are favorably impressed with our work, they may be able to give us Government land and property and so many other facilities which we can utilize to aid all of the population.” SPL to Dämodara, November 12th, 1970
The organizers of the Ratha Yatra committee would like to offer their obeisances to His Holiness Kavichadra Swami and His Holiness Ramai Swami, the GBCs for Indonesia. We are grateful for their support and for constantly guiding us in pushing forward Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Sankirtan movement. We are also extremely grateful to His Holiness Srimad Subhag Swami Maharaj who has been inspiring us to explore new frontiers in preaching and performing this Jagannath Ratha Yatra in every city in Indonesia for the pleasure of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Our gratitude to Tourism and Culture Department of Batam, Wajah Batam Organization, Ananda Marga Yoga and Meditation, Sai Study Group Batam, Peradah Kepri, Jnana Sila Bhakti Asram medan for the support of the Ratha yatra program.
Jaya Sri Sri Jagannath Baladev Subadra Maharani Ki Jaya!
Jaya Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra Utsava Ki Jaya!
Jaya Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Ki Jaya!
Jaya Srila Prabhupada Ki Jaya!
To see more photos of the event click here: https://goo.gl/CkTPse