Dhanuyatra : World’s Largest Open Air Stage Festival

News Courtesy/Helping on News Collecting by Bijay Nanda Debta
Dhanu Yatra: It is an annual drama-based open-air theatrical performance celebrated in Bargarh, Odisha Spread across a 6km radius area around the Bargarh municipality, it is considered as world’s largest open-air theater. It is based on the mythological story of Krishna (locally known as Krusna), and his demon uncle Kansa. Originating in Bargarh, in the present day play, the enactments of the play are being performed in many other places in Western Odisha. The major one of these is the original one at Bargarh. It is about the episode of Krishna and Balaram’s visit to Mathura to witness the Dhanu ceremony organized by their (maternal) uncle Kansa. The plays start with the dethroning of emperor Ugrasena by the angry prince Kansa, over the marriage of his sister Debaki with Basudeba, and ends with the death of Kansa, and Ugrasen restoring back to become the king. There is no written script used in these enactments. During this festival, Kansa can punish people with the penalty for their mistakes. Biju Patnaik, the former chief minister of Odisha was fined once along with his ministers. 
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History: It is said by some old people that as a way to celebrate the freedom, of newly formed independent India after the British rulers, the labor class workers started this festival. Death of Kansa symbolized the end of colonial rules.
Mathura: The daily vegetable market inside the heart of the town becomes the main stage of the festival. The temporary stage is built up using bamboo, cloth, and other decorating materials. The cement concrete roof of market shops works as the main platform. Cultural troops perform here in presence of King Kansa, invited the guest and eager audience ranging from children to old people.
There is the historical place of the starting point, at the rear area of the daily market, where the holy mast is erected few days before the actual festival begins. Historically this place has been used by “Sanchaar” dance form performers. It is a declining and going extinct form of dance. Only handful old performers of this dance form are left, who still come every year to perform. This dance goes on throughout out the night to keep the visitors of the villages engaged with entertainment, question answers etc.
Dhanuyatra image
Gopapura: Nearby village Ambapaali is rendered as Gopapura, during the festival. Villagers paint their houses to the themes of the mythology, hand drawings on walls showing various stories of Krishna. Wall writing of poetic stanzas is quite common on almost all walls of the village.
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Yamuna River: Jeera River, flowing on West side to the main town, is transformed into river Yamuna for these 10 days. The river is used in the drama in 3 days of the play –
1.When Krishna is born and Vasudeva goes to leave Krishna, his son at king Nanda’s place, for the safety from the killer hands of Kansa
2.During Raas Leela of Krishna with Gopis along the banks of the river (Gopapura – Ambapaali)
3.When minister Akrura goes and brings Krishna Balaram Brother duos to show them Dhanu Yatra at Mathura (Bargarh) city.
 
Recently Dhanuyatra held between 23rd December 2017 to 2nd January 2018 (11 Days)

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