Rakher Upobash: The Hindu Religious Festival of Bangladesh
Images and Article by Tania Chatterjee
Rakher Upobash is also known as Kartik Brati. It is a one of the famous Hindu Religious festivals in Bangladesh. Rakher Upobash is celebrated in Shri Loknath Brahmchari Ashram in Narayanganj district.
Dates for Rakher Upobash
Rakher Upobash is a Hindu religious festival of lights, faith and devotion. Rakher Upobash is usually celebrated in the month of Kartik as per Hindu calendar, which usually falls in November. Kartik month is an auspicious time as per Hindu religion. There are lot of festivals and religious events in this month.
Shri Loknath Bramhachari Ashram is 35 km from Dhaka; the capital city of Bangladesh. Lokenath Baba is worshipped as an incarnation of God. He is a very popular saint in West Bengal and Bangladesh. He is a revered saint within Bengali Hindus. Apart from the religious factors this festival is very important and special because of the great divinity involved with it. Lokenath Baba was a people’s saint and through this festival and divinity in the faces of the people one can realise his popularity.
Thousands of Hindu devotees gather at Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram to celebrate Rakher Upobash festival. Worshippers keep fast from morning for this prayer; which 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 complex. Both men and women participate in this festival equally.
As the sun goes down, devotees sit faithfully surrounding the temple, light up their diyas (earthen lamps) and dhunachi (an intense incense burner used to create smoke for traditional rituals). With ululation and chant the prayer starts and it continue for almost 2 hours. Ululation is a pious sound made by Hindu Bengali women in every auspicious occasion. The temple premises come alive when thousands of diyas start burning together. Light from million lamps, intense smoke from dhunachi, high peach rhythm of chanting and devotees absorbed in prayers creates breath-taking ambiance.
Lokenath Brahmachari or Baba Lokenath was an 18th Century Hindu saint and philosopher in undivided Bengal. These are the words from lip of every follower that, he is the greatest yogi ever born – Yogavatar Baba Lokenath Brahmachari. He is the Holy incarnation of the universal religion of love and compassion as preached by the Bhagvadgita.
At the age of eleven, he ventured off to the woods with his guru to practice Yoga and live a yogi’s life. When he left, it is said to have lived a life of complete asceticism until reaching enlightenment at the age of 90, after which he travelled extensively through Afghanistan, Persia and Arabia, including making three pilgrimages to Mecca. The Incredible Life of a Himalayan Yogi brings to you, alive, the times and teachings of a rare Yogi who lived for 160 years (1730-1890), spending the major part of his life in the Himalayan caves and traveling the world on foot.
Barodi was destined to become the seal of Baba’s divine play, because it was here that Loknath Baba revealed his divinity and infinite grace to the people of the world. This is the reason why, Barodi temple of Loknath Baba is so famous amongst his followers. He never wanted his followers to leave their home and comforts of life. Lokenath Baba always practiced meditation of self-enquiry and the path of devotional surrender to the Higher Reality. He supported the path of a balanced blending of self-awareness and Love Divine.
Devotees pray for good health and seek blessings during Rakher Upobash annual festival. This 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.
PHOTOGRAPHY DURING RAKHER UPOBASH FESTIVAL
Thousands of glittering diyas, and the rituals that the devotees perform creates ample travel and portrait photography opportunities. The smoke adds a special element into the photographs. It is always challenging to shoot in low-light condition and get a proper composition in the middle of thousands of people. The people, rituals and lights, form manifestation of internal energy and the photographer’s need to document that mood through photography.
RAKHER UPOBASH PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS :
- HIGHER ISO : There is no other way, but you have to shoot Rakher Upobash festival with higher ISO. Nowadays higher-end cameras perform great at high ISOs, while others create a grainy mess. So it is very important to known your camera, how high you can confidently push the ISO. I personally use Nikon Z6 and its low light performance is pretty impressive.
- LARGER APERTURE : The larger the aperture, the more light is entering the lens the (lower the number, the larger the aperture). A f/2.8 fast lens is always recommended for shoot like Rakher Upobash festival. A larger aperture also allows for a faster shutter speed, resulting in minimal camera shake and sharper images.
- LENS : A wide angle lens is a must for Rakher Upobash shoot. I will recommend 16-35mm OR 24-70mm f/2.8. You can also carry a supporting prime lens like 50mm f/1.8 for portrait shoot.
- SLOW SHUTTER SPEED : More light is entered the camera, the longer the shutter remains open. Moreover, a good rule of thumb for clear hand-held shots is no slower than 1/60 of a second.
- USE OF FLASH : On-camera pop-up flash is not recommended. It’s hit the subject directly and flatten it. If you want to use flash, then use off-camera flash, and reflective surfaces and diffusers to soften the light. But again, within short period of time, arranging artificial light set up pretty time consuming.
- USE OTHER LIGHT SOURCES: Rakher Upobash is the festival if lights therefore, use the light source to compose your frame. Play with light, shadow and smoke. Use a bigger available light source (like street lights/flood light) as a back-light for more interesting composition.
If you are interested to join my Rakher Upobash photography workshop 2020, visit for details.