By Hari Narayana Das
Thousands of citizens of Cilegon City, Banten were seen enthusiastically watching Cilegon Ethnic Carnival (CEC). This costume parade of Nusantara was the celebration of 18th Anniversary of Cilegon. The hot sun did not dampen them to witness the annual event in the industrial city. The annual Cilegon Ethnic Carnaval (CEC) 2017 was held to show the diversity of Cilegon. The performance of multi ethnics that exist in the city of Cilegon could attract many visitors and the government took it as an opportunity to advertise Cilegon’s culture to the world. “Cilegon Ethnic Festival 2017” which is participated by dozens of ethnic community communities such as Cilegon, Tapanuli, Lampung, Sunda, Central Java, East Java, Bali, Papua, Serang, Minang and Tionghoa. In addition to this, the devotees were also invited to participate in this parade. “Cilegon Ethnic Carnival”, also enlivened with Sail to Karakatau or package of excursions to enjoy the beauty of Anak Krakatau Mountain directly from aboard.
“For the present you endeavor to make Ratha-yatra festival grand and successful. You should arrange the procession and procedure so nicely that all the neighborhood people may be attracted to join the procession.” (SPL to Upendra, 1st June, 1968)
A day before the festival, the chariot team headed towards Cilegon from Depok, a three hour journey. Arriving at Cilegon, the team began to reassemble the chariot and worked hard into the night. Since there is no temple in Cilegon, Bhakta Putu Suparta and his good wife, searched for a suitable basecamp. Finally they found one: Hotel Gondang. During the night, devotees arrived from various places around Indonesia.
Early the next morning the devotees started making flower garlands and finished up last minute bits and bobs.
“Your unhappiness in the absence of sufficient engagement is a good sign. This is called avyartha kalatvam. When a person is advanced in Krsna consciousness he should always think that my time may not go in vain without being engaged in Krsna’s service” (SPL to Hamsaduta, 8th June 1969).
Lord Jagannath then arrived by bus after a long journey from Lampung.
“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)
At 10.00 AM, the pujari offered arati to the Lord and all devotees assembled in the hall. A recorded class from H.H. Subhag Swami Maharaj injected more energy to the devotees. After the class devotees then carried Lord Jagannath to the chariot. Coconuts were offered and broken to invoke auspiciousness. The Lord was then pulled to the main road of Cilegon city where the festival would commence. Arriving at the venue, it was Lord Jagannath’s Supreme will that the committee forbade the chariot to directly enter the venue and that it should go around the city and enter from back side. It gave the devotees an pooprtunity to introduce the Hare Krishna Mahamantra to the people of Cilegon.
“To implement this transcendental bliss to the people of your country there is immense work to be done ahead and this Ratha-yatra festival is only a bit of sample. 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)
At 01.00 PM the carnival started. The Mayor of Cilegon, Mr. Tubagus Iman Ariyadi welcomed all the participants and expressed his gratitude to all. “The CEC participants bring a good message that all Cilegon people must unite to realize a peaceful life by appreciating diversity and enhancing ownership,” Tubagus said when opening the “Cilegon Ethnic Carnival.” Other important guests who attended the carnival were the Ambassador of the Republic of Panama.
Jagannath ratha yatra was under the flag of Bali communities in Cilegon. After the Balinese communities performed the Balinese dance, the devotees then performed cultural dances and started pulling the chariot. The Hare Krishna Mahamantra filled the entire stage led by Sesa das. The devotees distributed one ton of oranges which were donated by Dhina Darini mataji.. In a short time the devotees run out maha prasadam. When Lord’s chariot passed, many people could not control themselves from singing and dancing along with the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. A little girl from other faith who stood alone at the division of the road was seen to be praying fervently to Lord Jagannath by folding her hand.
The devotees walked along the streets of Cilegon City as far as 1 kilometer, starting from the Mayor’s office and ended up at the Mayor’s house. The devotees did not enter the Mayor’s house because other participants had already filled the area. Arriving in the basecamp the kirtan became more intense and people who passed the hotel stopped just to see the kirtan.
The next day the manager of the hotel visited the devotees and expressed his gratitude to the devotees for visiting them. He requested that if next year the devotees will participate in the CEC their hotel will facilitate the devotees as their base camp.
After check out from the hotel, the devotees went to Merak Harbour to participate on the Sail to Krakatau 2. Devotees also get special price for the Sail. When the ship started headed Sunda strait devotees started harinam sankirtan on the ship. Then one by one other participant of the Sail joined the devotees dancing and singing. The Hare Krishna Mahamantra filled the deck of the ship. The committee also gave time for the devotees to performed in VIP stage for ten minutes and all happy to see and some of them participated in the joy of Hare Krishna Mahamanta.
“And if there is chanting of Hare Krsna, even the soul is there for a short time, Oh! he will hear and become advanced. This sound vibration is not material, it is spiritual and powerful beyond our conception. So it cannot be hindered in any way by something material; it surpasses all these material barriers.” (SPL to Mukunda and Janaki, 28th February, 1968).
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.