The small town of Bargarh in western Orissa is popular for world’s biggest open air theatre, an epic play with a name Dhanu Yatra or locally called Dhanu Jatra. The 11 day long Dhanu Yatra festival is organized in the month of Pausa or in the beginning of January each year. The petite town of Bargarh transforms into the splendid platform for depiction of mythological epic play.
Dhanu Jatra is one of the oldest and most popular plays of the region and even its grandiose level of celebration makes it world famous. Currently the great epic of Kansa’s death by Lord Krishna is acted. The Dhanu Yatra begins with the enactment of grand wedding ceremony of Devaki and Vasudeva and depicts the entire epic until the death of Kansa by Lord Krishna in different episodes at different parts of Bargarh.
The entire town of Bargarh transforms into epic age as Bargarh becomes the city of Mathura, the river Jeera becomes the river Yamuna and Ambapali situated on the other side of Jeera becomes Gopapura. Different exploits of Sri Krishna and Kansa story till his death by Lord krishna are performed on different movable stages across the town of Bargarh in 14 main places at Mathura and 4 main places in Gopa.
Dhanu yatra, the grand open air theatre was first performed in 1948 with the aim of celebrating Indian independence. The festive mood of people made them enact the victory of Lord Krishna, the embodiment of truth, justice and righteousness over Kansa who personifies arrogance and wickedness. The epic play was just a symbolic representation of Indians victory over unfair British rule.
The exclusive feature associated with Dhanu Yatra is that all the episodes of this grand epic play are enacted in different areas of Bargarh town, crediting it a title of world’s largest open air theatre.
One more peculiarity related to this Dhanu Jatra is the fact that it has maximum number of artists as all people residing or visiting Bargarh during 11 days of Dhanu Yatra participate in this.
Another feature which earned fame to Dhanu Yatra is the arrangement of separate stage along with movable stage to enact the mythological epic drama.
Time to Celebrate
Dhanu Yatra or Dhanu Jatra, the world’s biggest open air theatre is organized every year in the month of Dhanu or Pausa. Dhanu Yatra is celebrated for eleven days of the month from the 5th day of the bright fortnight till the full moon day. In 2010, Dhanu Yatra is from Jan 13 to Jan 22.