1st Ratha Yatra in Sampit, Indonesia (Album with photos)
Nila Kamal das: Sampit is a town and a timber port on the Sampit River in the Central Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, Indonesia. It is the seat of East Kotawaringin Regency. Sampit is the biggest timber port in all of Indonesia.
Sampit town became known worldwide following inter-ethnic violent communal clashes between the Dayaks and the Madurese during the Sampit conflict which broke out on February 17, 2001 and lasted for 10 days. In just two weeks 469 were reported to have been killed, of which 456 of them were Madurese. Virtually the entire Madurese people fled and “ethnic cleansing” has taken place in Sampit and surrounding areas, despite the Madurese previously forming about 60% of the population. However, according to a BBC report, the overall picture of the conflict caused 500 deaths, with over 100,000 Madurese displaced from their homes.
On the 19th of May 2017 the first Ratha Yatra festival was held in Sampit. Presently there are no devotees staying in Sampit but devotees from Palanka Raya (the capital of Central Kalimantan) helped in organizing the Ratha Yatra festival. HG Ananda Maya das (disciple of HH Bhakti Raghava Swami) requested the local Government in Sampit if it was possible for the devotees to join in the annual city parade. After a long and anxious wait the devotees got permission in April and started making preparations.
“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)
The chariot itself came from Palanka Raya as this has been the fourth Ratha Yatra that has been held in the Central Kalimantan area, the first being in Palanka Raya itself with HH Subhag Swami and HH Bhakti Raghava Swami being personally present.
Devotees arrived the day before the event with many of them staying up the entire night to attend last minute services. The next morning HG Shyamasundarananda das (Mayapur) delivered a lecture to inspire all the devotees present for the upcoming festival. Around 2pm, the devotees departed to the town centre to begin the festival. Along with Lord Jagannath and His Ratha were many wonderful chariots present. From local tribals to a team promoting organic chocolate, you could find it all at the parade!
Just before the parade was about to start it began to drizzle. After ten minutes however the light drizzle turned into heavy rain! Devotees quickly took shelter under waterproof plastic sheets. Half an hour passed but still the rain was coming down strong but the show had to go on. The devotees as well as the other participants in the parade began pulling their respective chariots in the rain. Although the microphones could not be used the kirtan kept going with devotees joyfully dancing the entire way.
Orange prasad was distributed throughout the journey as well as many books. HG Gopal das (Spain) was the top scorer with thirty books been distributed in an hour. During the course of the parade devotees had the opportunity to gift copies of the Bhagavad Gita to various VIPs including Sampit’s chief minister’s secretary. At the end of the event the devotees returned to their base and took prasad. The devotees received some good news the following day that they were awarded the second prize in the parade.
“These public festivals have proven very effective in spreading knowledge about Krsna consciousness to all the citizens”. SPL to Galim dasa, November 20th, 1971
We hope that in the future we can expand our preaching efforts in Sampit as well as other less well known places around Indonesia in trying to assist in Mahaprabhu’s desire to have the holy name spread in every town and village,
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.
We thank HH Bhakti Raghava Swami for his efforts to preach in the Kalimantan area and inspiring the devotees there.
Our humble obeisances to HH Subhag Swami for always reminding us of the importance of the Sankirtan movement of Mahaprabu and inspiring us with the dedication of Sriman Jayananda Prabhu, for bringing us closer to Srila Prabhupada and keeping us united in family of ISKCON.
Jay Jagannatha…Jay Baladeva…Jay Subadra devi ….
Jay Srila Prabhupada…..
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