Thousands devotees in Lokenath Ashram with luminaries
Published: 01:55 PM, 17 November 2019 Updated: 05:08 PM, 23 November 2019
Photo: Anjila Jerin Anjum
Light mist, cold air while the sun is downing soon! In such a situation, it is normal to have no noise in the village. But the exceptional scenario was seen in Baradi village in Sonargaon during the late Kartik that the whole village is decorated with a festive look and the crowded is also tingled at Lokenath Ashram. Thousands of Sri Sri Lokenath Brahmachari's devotees sit with various offerings including soil-lamp, ghee, banana leaf, flowers, paddy-durba, dub, milk, etc.
Before evening the fruits brought from the house were kept for some time in front of the idol of Lokenath. Then all of them sit in a row on the open ground. The lamp is on the Banana leaf placed in front. The fruits are arranged around different colors. The bell rang immediately after sunset. Hundreds of lamps lit together. The view from above is like a dream. Everyone keeps saying in the same voice - 'Baba Lokenath, 'Baba Lokenath Goo, Ebar Amader Rokkha Koro Goo (Oh! Farther Lokenath, save us, save us now).
After the lamp is lit, the Lokenath devotees break the fast which is carried out for the wellbeing of their friends and families as well as to eliminate the evil.
It is learned that, the Father Lokenath ordered to observe fasting in Kartik month and to burn ghee lamps in the Ashram premises to avoid epidemic diseases like cholera, smallpox etc. From there, Lokenath devotees observe the festival held on every Saturday and Tuesday at Bardi Loknath Ashram in Sonargaon during the last 15 days of Kartik month named as 'Kartik brat', 'Rakhar Upabas', 'Gosayr Upabas', or Grito Prodip Projjolon’.
Along with the editor of the DailyBangladesh, this was our first-time tour to the ashram covered with incense smoke. We went to Baradi with the help of the Sonargaon correspondent. We stayed until the end of the program to enjoy the various festivals and ceremonies directly. This festival is held at the Sri-Sri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram, established by the Sri-Sri Loknath Brahmachari Kartik, which is most commonly known as 'Baradi Ashram'.
What happens at this festival?
Before dusk, the devotees started to sit around the monastery in a row waiting for the sunset. They lit the ghee lamp when the sun went down in the west. Then the holy lamps of the devotees were illuminated all around piercing the dark. When the lamp was lit, the pilgrims became engrossed in the ashram covered with incense smoke. They wish for their relatives’ welfare.
Here is a special rule about lighting a lamp. Lamps are kept for counting the number of people for whom you are wishing. From three-four-ten-twenty and as many as you wish, you can have lit lamps. In a row, these thousands of lamps dazzling with the mild frosty weather create an undiscussable beautiful atmosphere.
Devotee Dilip Ghosh lit eight lamps this time. He is from Dinajpur. Talking to him, it is known that the time of lighting a lamp is called 'Ghrito Prodip Projjolon (lamp ignition). “At other times of the year, we keep burning the lamps with oil in the temple. But according to the rules here, ghee is used to burn. There is a reason behind this. Father Lokenath realizes that it is possible to be saved from cholera and smallpox through prayer by the Gree lamp instead of oil.
It seems like a different world when the lamp shines and the moments of prayer! Many photographers from different parts of the world as well as across the country came to Baradi to spend some weird time lighting the camera and capturing those moments. This time, no exception. Tourists from several countries, including China, the UK, Germany, have arrived. Chinese citizen Zhang Yang said that he has a great desire to visit Shatgambuz Mosque, the Sundarbans. “But when I heard there was such a festival, I didn't want to miss out; so I came this time,” the Chinese citizen added.
Another part of the event is Odhibas Kirtan (one kind of spiritual song) of the temple of Nat. The episode starts with Prasad festival going on till midnight. The ceremony takes place on an open stage in the center of the temple premises surrounded by the fans and one of the celebrity groups. Originally, this episode focuses on the various chapters of Sri Lokenath Brahmachari's life and the folklore of Sri Krishna, with the traditional music instruments.
Baradi Ashram, the icon of the non-communal awareness, said Bardi union council chairman Zahirul Haque. In the post-war period, He said Lokenath Baba's monastery was the only one in Bangladesh. Lokenath Ashram has been established in many places now. I still remember, in 1975, there was no proper road at that time. People came from all over the country crossing the canal-raw roads. Ever since then, Hindus and Muslims have always tried to organize peacefully this festival.
He also said that the Rakher fasting would be organized through their own funds, earlier. “But I have heard that this time a fund has come from the government for the first time. And don't even have to worry about security. Loknath devotees can move freely here. There is no danger or-hassle here. Since the present government came to power this arrangement has become more and more glorious,” the UP chairman said.
Farid Hossain, a local shopkeeper, said, "I have been observing this event since my childhood, but no chaos has been seen ever. The shop is so crowded because of the monastery. The Pera Sandesh (one kind of sweetmeat), many things including the mustard oil, have been familiar to the people a lot due to the Rakhar fast gathering.
Loknath Baba and Baradi Ashram
Loknath Brahmachari is a Hindu priest. In the mountains, in the forests, he endured many tribulations in the jungle, and what he achieved, he spent all the things to the people day and night. He toured Afghanistan, Mecca, Medina, Persia, Greece, Turkey, Italy, France, Switzerland and many other places to gain knowledge. His initiator was Bhagwan Ganguly. He had nothing except knowledge. He has given that knowledge to the devotees; in exchange, they respect and love him.
Lokenath Brahmachari was born in a Brahmin family in Kachua under the Barasat sub-division of 24 Parganas. Date of birth is approximately 18 Bhadra 1138 Bangabda (Bengali calendar). He was the fourth child of father Ramknai Ghosal and mother Kamaladevi. Finishing the initiation with Lord Gangopadhyay, Lokenath and his infant Benimadhab Bandopadhyay went to the Himalayas to travel seeking knowledge. Apart from the Himalayas, they traveled and pursued in various places of India. When Loknath and Benimadhab were 90 years old, Guru Bhagwan Ganguly handed over them to Hitlal Mishra (eventually Trilanga Swami) and died. Then they traveled to the Himalayas and Tibetan highlands under the supervision of the Guru.
Father Lokenath used to preach in simple language. He said that there is no need for magnificence puja(offerings). He will respond only when someone calls him with devotion even in the war, in the forest, I the water or in the wilderness, where his devotees will be in danger. His puja Prasad also a little candy and water. The saint instructed the devotees to give special importance to poor people's service. On 18th Jaistho in 1297 Bangabda, the great saint dies through meditation. The tomb of this spiritual leader is located in the Baradi area of Sonargaon in Narayanganj; which is known as Sri-Sri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram.