Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bargarh, Dec 24:
The sacred pillar (Subha Stambha) and sacred flag (Subha Dhwaja) were founded on Wednesday in western Odisha town of Bargarh marking the beginning of preparations of the 67th edition of Dhanu Yatra. This world famous festival which boasts of world’s largest open air theatre will be held from Jan 14 till Jan 24.
Keeping with the tradition, a special prayer and worship was performed at the Samaleswari temple of Bargarh. A cultural procession started from the temple with the garlanded order of the temple and reached the venue of Dhanu Yatra—Sanchar Mandap– at Hatapada after doing rounds of the town.
The royal priest Shiba Prasad Dash offered an Ashtakala Naga Puja (cobra worship) at the venue. District Collector Anjan Kumar Manik and superintendent of police Asish Kumar Singh played host to the consecrated fire (Havan) officially starting the preparations for the 11-day long festival.
Dhanu Yatra Committee Convener Sureswar Satpathy, co-convenor of Raj Darbar committee Rajendra Prasad Singh, Project Director of DRDA Batakrushna Dehury, Bargarh Municipality chairman Prashant Kumar Behera and Hrushikesh Bhoi who plays the role of demon king Kansa in Dhanu Yatra were present on the occasion.
For these 11 days, Bargarh town turns into Mathuranagar, the capital of Kansa, while Ambapalli village across the Jeera river becomes Gopapura, the abode of Lod Krishna. 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.
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 Dhanu Yatra, 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 in 1948 in the aftermath of independence as a performance charged with nationalistic fervour.