‘Dhanu Yatra’ begins in Bargarh, Odisha

The ‘Dhanu Yatra’ festival, considered to be the world’s largest open-air theatre, began on Tuesday in the Western Odisha town of Bargarh.

President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered greetings to the people of the eastern state with the commencement of the 11-day festival.

The ‘Dhanu Yatra’, which marks the victory of good over evil, came into existence in Bargarh in 1947-48 as part of the celebration of the country’s Independence and is held annually.

“The vibrant Dhanu Yatra is associated with the culture of Odisha. As this Yatra begins, my greetings to everyone. May this Yatra further the spirit of harmony and happiness in our society,” PM Modi said on the microblogging site.

The plays in the festival start with the dethroning of Emperor Ugrasen of Mathura by angry Kansa over the marriage of his sister Devaki with Vasudev.

“The festival will conclude with the death of demon king Kansa and restoration of the throne to Ugrasen,” said a member of the Dhanu Yatra Mahotsav Committee.

With the commencement of the festival, Bargarh becomes King Kansa’s Mathura, and Amapali, located about eight km away, becomes Gopapura, where Lord Krishna is said to have spent his childhood. The Jeera river which flows between the two places becomes the Yamuna river.

The festival, which is being organised after a gap of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will conclude on January 6 next year.

The rule of Kansa, his death and the exploits of Lord Krishna are enacted in 14 places across the area during the open-air festival. Politicians and government officers get sucked into the show as the rule of King Kansa holds sway during the ‘Dhanu Yatra’.

During his rule in Bargarh, the demon king Kansa penalises offenders on the streets and also enters the government offices and pulls up indisciplined officials. He also listens to the grievances of people at his ‘durbar’ and passes orders even to government officials.

“Around 3,500 artistes of 155 cultural troupes from across the country and abroad will perform at the Rajdurbar and Rangamahal during the festival this year,” said Rabi Narayan Panda, the co-convener of the publicity committee of the ‘Dhanu Yatra’.