BARGARH DHANU YATRA-World’s Largest Open Air Theater

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Bargarh Dhanu Yatra
Bargarh Dhanu Yatra

The tired town of Bargarh in western Odisha wakes up during the Dhanu Yatra, which is viewed as the greatest outdoor theaters in Asia. Held either in the period of December or January, the celebration is composed to praise the Independence and triumph of the great over the malevolence. In Dwapara Age, Lord Krishna, the very manifestation of God, showed up in Aryabarta so as to destroy Kansa, the pitiless ruler and the vile Kauravas. The extraordinary noble deeds of Lord Krishna have been instrumental in the formation of folk tales, music, art, literature and mythology. In this manner, Lord Krishna has turned into a fundamental piece of our life, our way of life and our development. He is advantageously utilized as the main issue of reference of values, philosophy and religion in India.When and how the Dhanu Yatra began at Bargarh is not exactly known but elderly people say that such a festival was started towards the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th century. Initially, it was a seven-day affair which was later extended to eleven days.

Lord Krishna and Lord Balaram @Bargarh Dhanu Yatra
Lord Krishna and Lord Balaram @Bargarh Dhanu Yatra

Bargarh Dhanu Yatra is a visual enjoyment as the whole scene of Mathura Vijay and Krishna Leela is portrayed frame by frame. During the celebration, the Bargarh Municipality limit briefly changes to Mathurapuri, the capital of the kingdom of legendary devil King Kansa. River Jeera represents river Yamuna crosswise across which, is situated in the town Ambapali that transforms into Gopapur where Krishna will be raised. The celebration, which is a blend of stage, theater and film, is held for 11 days going before the Pousa Purnima. Consistently, the coordinators add a new dimension to the celebration to put aside the monotony and add colour to the celebration. The whole topography of Bargarh inside a span of five kilometers transforms into a stage, making it the biggest outdoors theater on the planet. Unexpectedly, the topography of Bargarh area absolutely adjusts to the areas of the puranic depictions and makes it a perfect setting.

All scenes are enacted in the natural environment and no set, except for the durbar of  the King Kansa. It gives the drama a natural ambience and feel. An elephant is engaged for the royal transport of King Kansa. A chariot is made for Akrura’s visit to the Gopapura. Another unique feature of Dhanu Yatra is that all people – local residents as well as visitors – become participants in the 11-day drama. While the lead roles are done by few chosen actors, common people also become characters playing their roles as subjects of Mathura in the drama. Nowhere it is seen that such a large number of spectators also become a part of a drama.

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This is a play with an unwritten script. Keeping in view the story line of the episodes, the characters speak the dialogue extempore in their own way. While the lead characters wear ensembles befitting their jobs; others are in their typical dress.  It can be safely viewed as a folk play.

Bargarh Dhanu Yatra Ground
Bargarh Dhanu Yatra Ground

Selection of the period of the Dhanu Yatra is also fascinating and significant. Bargarh is an agrarian territory and the people are mostly farmers. The month of Pausha is the ideal oppurtunity for reap and after that it is celebration time. There is a popular saying in Sambalpuri: “Kansa rajar bansha budu, Kansa male khaema ladu” (let the dynasty of king Kansa come to end, we shall take sweets when Kansa dies). Pausha Purnami therefore coincides with the day of Kansa’s end.

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