Bargarh, Dec 23:
The countdown for the 65th edition of the world famous Dhanu Yatra of Bargarh began today with the principal actors taking a pledge (sankalp) at the Mukteswar Temple here for the 11-day long festival to be held from January 6, 2014 to January 16, 2014.
While Hrushikesh Bhoi will be playing the character of Kansa, child artistes Shreyansh Mahapatra and Shibansh Mahapatra will be enacting the characters of Srikrishna and Balaram respectively in the 2014 Dhanu Yatra festival.
Dhanu Yatra of Bargarh, is unique in many respects. For one thing, it has the world’s biggest open-air theatre. For another, it is a theatre having the biggest assembly of actors that a play can ever have, with almost the entire population of Bargarh town taking part in it.
It is a cultural extravaganza where the same mythological play is enacted year after year, but neither the audience nor the actors seem to get tired. I
It is a conglomeration of several open-air theatres, with the action taking place simultaneously at different stages and both actors and viewers moving from place to place according to the requirement of a particular scene.
There is nothing new in the play but the uniqueness lies in the way it is enacted and the willing participation of the public, including government servants, politicians, businessmen and spectators.
The play 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.
King Kansa, the maternal uncle of Lord Krishna, invites Krishna and Balaram to witness and participate in the festivity of Dhanuyatra, which is held in his capital Mathura.
But Lord Krishna senses the evil design of assassination behind the invitation and kills tyrant Kansa, freeing his subjects from perpetual oppression. The play ends with the death of King Kansa.
It is believed that, Dhanu Yatra in its present form has started in1948 in the aftermath of independence as a performance charged with nationalistic fervour.
Kansa, the demon king, symbolises the imperialist British government on its way out and Lord Krishna stands for the nationalistic aspiration of the people.
For eleven days, Bargarh town is virtually transformed into Mathuranagar, the capital of King Kansa while the nearby Ambapalli village across the river Jeera becomes Gopapura, the abode of Lord Krishna. River Jeera flowing between the above two places stands for river Yamuna.
The vehicular traffic stands suspended inside Bargarh town for the entire period of the yatra.