The first temple in Indonesia celebrates its first Ratha Yatra

Event Date
February 11, 2017

Cap Go Meh (CGM) is a festival celebrating Chinese New Year. Many people come to see this festival because it hosts an abundance arts and cultural performances. This year, February 11, 2017, the Chinese community in Bogor, West Java celebrated the CGM through Bogor Street Festival. This festival also invited many art communities in West Java and surrounding areas to participate in the festival. Knowing this the devotees in Bogor also sent a proposal whether they could participate in the street festival to introduce Jagannatha Ratha yatra to the people of Bogor.

"This is very good proposal. Make the Ratha-yatra festival very great success. This will be a great introduction in your city and people will appreciate it" (SPL to Syamasundara, 4th May, 1967)

This was the 15th CGM Street Festival in Bogor and on this special year Lord Jagannatha participated in the festival and gave blessing to the people in Bogor. The devotees of Sri Sri Radha Govinda temple in Bogor (the first Hare Krishna Temple in Indonesia), were really enthusiastic in preparing for the festival.

Previously the devotees tried to participate in the CGM in Bandung, somehow the festival was postponed it made the devotees sad. Then news came that the government authorities of Bogor would do Street Festival and immediately the devotees sent a proposal to the government to participate in the festival. The government accepted the proposal and gave permission to participate under the community of Hare Krishna. This was the first time for the devotees to participate in a festival using own identity as Hare Krishna community.

The theme of the festival was "Cultural Event to Unite the Nation". This was the right theme where the Lord Himself came to Bogor to unite the nation. It was less than a week after Jaganath ratha yatra in Manokwari. The devotees had to rush with the time to prepare for the festival. As the Ratha yatra team discussed the plan of the festival, the devotees from Lampung inormed that they would come to participate in the Ratha yatra.

"Krsna is sufficiently powerful and able to give facilities to His devotees provided a devotee works very sincerely to please Him. We shall always keep this motto in our view" SPL to Syama dasi, 30th March, 1969

On the day of the festival, early in the morning Chariot team Ragava pandit, bhakta Edi, and Adi prana prabhu prepared the chariot in Depok, Tapana Misra's house. Cleaning the chariot under the rain did not fade their spirit. After all paraphernalia of the chariot was set in their respective places, the chariot was sent to Bogor using tow truck. Then the team headed to hour drive. There was no base camp in Bogor so the devotees prepared the chariot in the public station, they made flower garlands in front of shops which were closed at that time. The devotees from Lampung also arrived that morning and gave a hand to prepare the chariot. The sound system was lent by BPJS Ketenagakerjaan (Worker insurance company) but there was no generator so the chief coordinator had to rush to buy a new generator. At 11.Am. the street became crowded, more people came to see the festival. The rain was heavy from morning but it was not stop the devotees from decorating the chariot. Other participants also started to arrive at the venue of the festival.

"Immediately, of course, we do not insist on philosophy, but if people join sankirtana, chanting and dancing and taking prasadam, then immediately we can begin cooperating without any distinction of Hindu, Christian, Muslim, etc."SPL to Sriman Joshiji, 9th May, 1976

At 12 pm the Deities arrived. Lord Jagannth took a long Journey from Lampung. Then the Lords were seated on the chariot and Were offered bhoga then arati and coconuts were broken to announce start of the ceremony...the whole event attracted many people. They also saved the event on their phone mobile. The sound of Hare Krishna Mahamantra filled the entire atmosphere and attracted everyone to take a glance on the chariot. At 2.Pm, all participants were in line for the festival, but it did not move for two hours. Waiting for the festival to start, the devotees kept the kirtan going. Then at 6 pm the festival started. The audience fell to both sides of the road, no space left. The dancer team danced gracefully in front of the chariot and enchanted all people. All were joyful. A woman with her family shout to remain her children "Did you hear that, Hare Krisna Mahamantra, we had heard and saw in Bali last Holiday?" Her children and husband nodded their heads in agreement with her.

"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)

Although accompanied by heavy rain, it did not dampen the enthusiasm of thousands of people and participants who flowed in the joy of the festival. Arriving at the finish point, the devotees honored prasadam. The chariot team cleaned and prepared the chariot before it was sent back to Depok. Lord Jagannath deities also retuned to Lampung.

"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

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.



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