Ratha Yatra Festival of Dhaka in Bangladesh
By Iskcon Bangladesh
24 July 4 p.m. The return Ratha from Dhakeswari Temple was about to leave for Swamibag ISKCON temple. Everyone was waiting for the chief guest H.H. Jayapataka Swami to come and start the returning Ratha Yatra with colorful rally. But then came the rains… It was raining so heavily, at once it seemed that rain is going to wash this year’s Dhaka Ratha Yatra….
But devotees from all over Bangladesh proved that nothing can stop Bangladesh Yatra…. Volunteers and young boys started enthusiastic kirtan circulating the three huge chariots (Rathas) ignoring the heavy rains… Haribol! All the devotees got back the rhythm. Maharaj came and after his nice short speech, the Ratha started.
Rain didn’t stop, it abated, but didn’t stop for a single second in all the 3 hours the Rathas took to reach Swamibag ISKCON temple.But the crowd was no less. The Dhaka,Swamibag ISKCON Ratha began in 2000. Actually in 2000, the Ratha started from Wari temple, stayed 7 days in Dhakeswari temple and their Lordships Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Devi first entered Swamibag temple in return Ratha. Since then They have been staying here and blessing unconditinally all the devotees visiting Swamibag and during Ratha Yatra all the Dhaka dwellers. Since then there was not a single year where the Ratha crowd was less than the previous year. Last year, H.H. Bhakti Purusottama Maharaj was the chief guest of Dhaka ISKCON Ratha Yatra Festival and in his lecture H.H. happily declared that Dhaka Ratha Yatra Festival is the largest ISKCON Ratha and Dhaka crowd is the second Ratha Yatra crowd of the world (The highest is no doubt Puri in India)
This year Dhaka again proved that. During the 9 days’ pragram, 500 thousands plates of Prasadam have been distributed. On July 16, more than 100 thousand people attended the Ratha. It was a very colorful festival and the streets of Dhaka came to a stand still when the Rathas were passing. From the vehicles,people were wondering
(Bangladesh is a Muslim country) and asking, “Hey! What’s this? What’s going on? Is this a puja or what? Why are you so happy dancing and dancing all the way?” May be in a year or two, no one’s going to ask such questions. Because Dhaka Rahta has been so enthuastic and so popluar over the years! And the crowd is increasing every year. This year all the T.V. channels and newspapers have covered the Ratha news. The national T.V. channel (Bangladesh Televion) even showed a 30 minutes program on ISKCON Dhaka Ratha Yatra Feasival. .
During this 9 days long program(16 July-24 July) many spiritual and cultural programs were held, such as Discussion, Vedic Dance, Padavali Kirtan, Harinam Sankirtan, Bhajans, Arati Kirtan, Vedic Drama, Cinema, Classes from Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhakti Vriksa Conference, Instrumental Music(Sitar, Violin), Quiz contest from selected books etc. Distinguished dignitaries and guests from home and abroad joined the festival. Major General Dr. A.S.M. Matiur Rahman, advisor of ministry of Religion of the caretaker Government of Bangladesh was the chief guest on 16 July for Ratha Yatra. H.H. Gauranga Prema Swami and H.H, Subhag Swami were this year’s special guests for Return Ratha. H.H. Jayapataka Swami has been joining the Dhaka Return Ratha for last 7 years.