Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bargarh, Jan 14:
The 11-day long Dhanu Yatra, considered as world’s largest open-air theater, started today in Western Odisha’s Bargarh town.
On the day one today, the festival began with the wedding of King Kansa’s sister Devaki with Basudev.
Rallied around the theme of mythological king Kansa and his annihilation by Lord Krishna, the uniqueness of the festival lies in the backdrop. Instead of a traditional stage, the act is played out all over the town and nearby villages.
The act begins from Hatapada which serve as King Kansa’s court. Entire Bargarh town is decorated and treated as Mathurapuri, the capital city of Kansa’s kingdom during the 11 day long play. Nearby Ambapalli becomes Gopapura, where Lord Krishna spent his childhood and the River Jeera becomes River Yamuna. The festival draws to an end after Kansa Vadha or extermination of King Kansa by Lord Krishna on the 11th day.
Three mythological stages of Lord Krishna’s life such as Krishna Leela, Mathura Vijay and Kansa Vadha are played out during the festival. A large number of theater artistes, the residents of Bargarh and its nearby villages participate in the play.
Over the years, commercial interests have also gained prominence during the festival attracting thousands of tourists not only from Odisha or India, but also from far off countries.
As it has always been the case, the center of attraction of the festivities remains King Kansa, known for his misrule and cruelty. During his reign, Kansa, played by actor Hrushikesh Bhoi gets to boss around not only common citizens but also government officials and politicians.
“We had waited for this moment all through the year and it finally is here. All of us artists would put our best foot forward. We are using certain modern elements to make the act more engaging this year,” said actor Bhoi.
The administration is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that the festival goes off smoothly.
“All necessary preparations and arrangements for the Dhanu Yatra have been completed. Security has also been beefed up. Bargarh prides itself on this festival and we will do our level best to ensure that it goes off smoothly,” said Bargarh District Collector Anjan Kumar Manik.