Kansa back in Bargarh

The famous Dhanu yatra festival, touted as the largest open-air theatre in the world, began in the west Odisha town of Bargarh on Saturday.

By SUBHAS PANIGRAHI in Sambalpur
  • Published 24.12.17
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Sambalpur: The famous Dhanu yatra festival, touted as the largest open-air theatre in the world, began in the west Odisha town of Bargarh on Saturday.

During the festival, the small district headquarters town of Bargarh is transformed into Mathura. The river Jeera becomes the Yamuna and Amapali, the village located on the other side of the river is seen as Gopapur.

For 11 days, the entire town is transformed into an open-air theatre where everyone behaves like an actor. Kansa rules the town during these 11 days and the residents become his obedient subjects. The rule of Kansa, his death and the exploits of Lord Krishna are enacted in various places of Mathura and Gopapur during the festival.

The yatra began with the wedding of King Kansa's sister Devaki with Basudev.

Once the marriage got over, Kansa dethroned his father Ugrasen and captured the kingdom.

A colourful cultural procession accompanied by folk dancers moved round the streets of the town after performing puja at the Ma Samaleswari Temple and reached the court of Kansa at Hatpada.

An elephant, horses and camels, specially brought here for the festival, added to the beauty of the procession.

During his rule in Bargarh, Kansa catches offenders on the streets and slaps fines on them. He also enters into government offices, banks and pulls up undisciplined officials. He also listens to the grievances at his court and orders government officials, ministers, MLAs, and senior police officials to set things right.

This year, Bhunaneswar Pradhan is performing the role of Kansa, the most popular character of Dhanu yatra. Sribansh Mohapatra is acting as the young Krishna while Sreyansh Mohapatra is performing the role of Balaram.

History says the festival came into existence in 1947-48 to celebrate India's independence from British rule. It marked the victory of good over evil.

The festival will conclude on the 11th day with the death of King Kansa and coronation of Ugrasen.

Several cultural programmes will also organised during the festival. Around 3,000 artistes from across Odisha will perform during the yatra this year.

On the sidelines of the yatra, a state-level handloom and handicrafts exhibition, trade fair and Pallishree Mela are also being organised.