The Ashram of Baba Loknath, one of the most revered sages of the Hindu religion is situated at the village of Baradi at Sonargaon under Narayanganj district. I visited this sacred place on 6th November 2018 to observe ‘Rakher Upabas’, also known as ‘Kartik Upabas’. This is basically a religious fasting. Followers of Hinduism observe this fast on the last two Tuesdays and Saturdays of the Bengali month of Kartik in late Autumn. Any one of these four days is sufficient to observe the fast. Any follower of the religion can observe this fast.
The festival occurs as the followers of Hinduism gathers together at this ashram in order to break the fast. And, not only the Hindus of Bangladesh participate here in this festival, the followers of this religion from India & Sri Lanka as well as from other parts of the world also flock to this place every year. Hence, it’s a must-visit place for Photographers and in this case too, the nationality isn’t limited to the borders around.
As of me, I came to know about this festival last year when I came upon an amazing photo it clicked& posted by a fellow group member of Travelers’ of Bangladesh. This year, I started preparing a few months before the event was scheduled and planned to go on the very first night. Not only this, I planned to revisit the two iconic places of Sonargaon- Panam City and the Folk-Art Museum too.
I am not at all familiar with the roads & addresses of Narayanganj and so, asked a few local friends to help me out. One of them, being super kind, dedicated his car with driver to me for the whole day and didn’t let me pay for the fuel even. Honestly, without this support, I would surely face a few troubles that I actually had not.
After visiting these two spots, I started for the ashram at about 3pm. The way to the ashram was not an easy one, however- it’s one of those kinds of roads that allows a traveler to know the local people and the culture more closely. The best thing about that ever-winding road running beside the river Meghna is that it has beautiful local houses on both sides of it.
So, driving through this road was an adventure in & of itself, though it took way longer than anticipated. I reached at the ashram at about 4:30 pm. But the event lasted for a very short time (till 8 pm) after the fast was broken at the sunset. I was told that on that very night at 12 am, during the Amabasya (dark moon) Kali puja- another major event of the religion- was set to be observed right at this venue. One important thing to be mentioned here is that within the ashram premise there are Shiv temple, Durga temple, 2 multi-storied guest houses and a very attractive souvenir shop. However, there are a few souvenir shops and local sweet shops open around this ashramthroughout the year.
I, with my driver, had our lunch done with paratha, luchi & vegetables from a nearby restaurant. After lunch, the driver went to take some rest inside the car and I entered the festival venue with the camera. Each & everyone at the event- from the organizers to the devotees, defense force and all- were very friendly and helpful. From the preparation stage of the event till the end- I clicked photographs to my heart’s content and yet wasn’t done. Such an amalgamation of color, smoke & light along with the fragrance of incents can only be found in a religious event; though, the smoke was causing burning sensation to the eyes.
I managed to return home by 10 pm that night with some truly unforgettable memories.
How to get there
Direct bus services from Dhaka’s Gulistan to Narayanganj and from there, autorickshaw to Baradi. It will cost Tk 200 to 250 for round trip. But be careful always to not make any gesture or do anything that hurts religious essence of the event.
Photo: Sohelee Tahmina