Hundreds of Hindu devotees gather in front of Shri Shri Loknath Brahmachari Ashram temple for the Rakher Upobash, a religious fasting festival called Kartik Brati, in Barodi, Sonargaon. Sitting in front of candle lights (locally named as Prodip), they fast and pray in earnest to the gods for their favours during the ritual. The festival is held on every Saturday and Tuesday in the last 15 days of the Bengali month – “Kartik.”
Worshippers keep fast from morning for this prayer and it means the last meal they had was their yesterday’s dinner. From afternoon, they start gathering at the temple premises to secure a place for prayer inside the temple. Both men and women participate in this festival equally. As the sun goes down, devotees sit faithfully surrounding the temple, light up their Prodips (earthen lamps) and dhunachi (an intense incense burner used to create smoke for traditional rituals). With ululation and chant, the prayer starts and it continues for almost 2 hours. Ululation is a pious sound made by Hindu Bengali women in every auspicious occasion. The temple premises become alive when thousands of diyas are burnt together. Light from million lamps, intense smoke from dhunachi, high peach rhythm of chanting and devotees absorbed in prayers creates breath-taking ambiance. At last, devotees break their fast taking the prashad from temple and cooking their dinner in the temple.
Rakher Upobash is a Hindu religious festival of lights, faith and devotion. Devotees pray for good health and seek blessings during this annual festival. It is the time of the year when Barodi temple becomes like a heavenly abode of the Gods. Glowing diyas, fumes, chanting at every corner of the temple premises manifest a sense of energy, joy and divinity.
*** Loknath Brahmachari who is called Baba Loknath was an 18th Century Hindu saint and philosopher in Bengal. He is the Holy incarnation of the universal religion of love and compassion as preached by the Bhagavad-Gita.