BY VISHAKA SUSEVINI DEVI DASI
KUCHING - ISKCON Kuching, Sarawak, for the 8th consecutive time held its’ annual Jagannath Ratha Yatra festival with great pomp and gaiety on Saturday 20th June, 2015. The beautifully decorated chariot carrying Lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subadhra Maharani started proceeding from Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, Batu Lintang at 4 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m. at the Hare Krishna Multipurpose Hall, Batu Kawa, next to ISKCON Kuching’s Lakshmi Narasimha Temple.
The chariot was preceded by an elaborately decorated float which came with a beautiful touch of splendor, i.e the portrayal of Lord Ram-Sita-Lakshman-Hanuman by the children of ISKCON Kuching. The procession’s commencement was officiated by His Holiness Bhanu Maharaj and Mr. Lo Khere Chiang, Chairman of Padawan Municipal Council, Kuching. Hundreds of devotees thronged the streets to catch a glimpse of the majestic deities, to pull the chariot along on the ropes and offer archanas to the merciful Lordships to obtain benediction. Many others were simply absorbed into the transcendental sound of Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, chanting and dancing through ecstatic kirtan that was taking place in front of the chariot.
Upon reaching the Hare Krishna Multipurpose Hall, a grand mass of fireworks and Lion Dance performance by the Chinese Association welcomed the glorious deities. Kripa Sindhu Krishna Dasa, Temple President of ISKCON Kuching addressed the crowd with a warm welcome, thanked all organizations, congregation members of ISKCON especially devotees from West Malaysia who were about 90 of them this year, who took the trouble to fly over to Sarawak to extend their full support. This was followed by Simheswara Dasa’s speech, Regional Secretary of ISKCON Malaysia who appreciated the crowd for their participation and glorified this year’s Kuching Ratha Yatra celebration because it coincided with Purusottama month, which added more auspiciousness to this event. He also strongly recommended everyone to offer ghee lamps, chant and take prasadam during this holy month to purify ourselves and receive the Lord’s blessings. Next was a spiritual discourse by HH Bhanu Maharaj, who pointed mainly to the importance of love for God, and Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Absolute Truth.
Lastly, our very own well-wisher, YB Datuk Yong Khoon Seng, former Deputy Minister of Works graced this event as the guest of honor and commended ISKCON Kuching team for utilizing the multipurpose hall for the benefit of local communities such as for tuition lessons and dance classes. Later, he pledged to fix the air-conditioners to make the hall fully functional again so that it could be utilized to generate sustainable revenues for the temple. Thereafter, HH Bhanu Maharaj officiated the event together with leaders from Padawan Municipal Council, NGO and other organizations, followed by a cake cutting ceremony.
The program for the evening henceforth featured a variety of presentations including several dance performances by Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia that signified the diverse and multi-ethnic population of the country. The children and youth of ISKCON Kuching, created a home production comprising of Sita-Ram drama, light dance and various Krishna Lila dance that mesmerized the crowd. In the meantime, Prasadam, the feast of love and devotion prepared by devotees was served to approximately 500 guests where various types of pure vegetarian food and sweets were distributed out.
With the prasadam distribution and grand finale of performances, the 8th Ratha Yatra festival organized by ISKCON Kuching Malaysia came to an end. May everyone be blessed immensely by the merciful glance of Lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subadhra Maharani. Jagannath Ratha Yatra Ki JAI!