Dhanu Yatra, world’s biggest open air theatre, beings in Odisha

BHUBANESWAR: The reign of King Kansa has started, and the scared people are eagerly waiting for Lord Krishna to land in Mathura and kill the Demon King to establish the victory of good over evil.

Dhanu Yatra, world’s biggest open-air theatre, has begun in Bargarh city on Thursday. It is a theatre having the biggest assembly of actors, with almost the entire population of Bargarh, about 380 km from Bhubaneswar, and its nearby villages participating in the play.

The 11-day play, which has gained national festival status, comprises three mythological episodes ‘Krishna Leela’, ‘Mathura Bijaya’ and ‘Kansa Badha’. The age-old story of Lord Krishna killing the tyrannical King Kansa of Mathura forms the central theme of the play.Dhanu Yatra, world’s biggest open air theatre, beings in Odisha

Beginning today, the thunderous roar of tyrant king Kansa will reverberate in this western Odisha town for 11 long days as the world’s largest open-air theatre ‘Dhanu Yatra’ gets underway this year.

“Elaborate arrangements have been put in place for the smooth functioning of the play. As usual, the people are cooperating the district administration to make it a success,” said Bargarh district collector Anjan Manik.

During the Dhanu Yatra, Bargarh city becomes Mathura; the river Jeera becomes river Yamuna and Ambapalli situated on the other side of Jeera becomes Gopapura. The story of Maharaja (king) Kansa, his death and different acts of Lord Sri Krishna are enacted in 14 main places in Mathura and 4 main places in Gopapura.

The significance of the play is that everyone including collector, judges, ministers, police and other officials oblige to pay obedience to the orders of Maharaja Kansa.

The king punishes the violators with fine or mild physical punishment. The total administration of the town and the people are taken over by King Kansa.

“Here Maharaja Kansa moves around the city on the elephant from afternoon till evening. In the evening, he holds the court and the entertainment. Maharaja Kansa tries to mitigate the suffering of his citizens while moving around his kingdom, the Mathura,” said a citizen of Bargarh.

But once he comes to the court, he remains occupied with discussions with ministers to find ways to avert his prophesied death. He makes all kinds of plans to kill Sri Krishna. He dispatches various demons to Gopapura to eliminate Sri Krishna.

Similarly, Krishna and Balaram are worshipped by the people in general as idols of God. Love of virtue springs up while thronging to welcome the chariot of Krishna-Balaram as if the God himself incarnated temporarily in the body of the actors.