The ‘reign of King Kansa’ started with the beginning of Dhanu Yatra, said to be the world’s largest open air theatre festival, in Odisha’s Bargarh district on Monday. The 11-day festival is based on Krishna Leela and Mathura Vijay.
The story begins with the legendary king of Mathura, Kansa, also uncle of Lord Krishna, ascending the throne, and ends with Krishna killing Kansa.
During the festival, Bargarh becomes the city of Mathura, the river Jeera becomes the Yamuna and Ambapali situated on the other side of Jeera becomes Gopapura.
“For 11 days, the whole of Bargarh town is transformed into a big stage through the story of Kansa, his death and the noble deeds of Sri Krishna are enacted in 14 main places at Mathura and four places in Gopapura,” according to the official website of Bargarh Dhanu Yatra.
The festival is a symbolic representation of the triumph of good over evil, and is a post-Independence phenomenon to mark the end of British rule. The significance of the play is that everyone including the collector, judges, ministers, police and other officials are obliged to obey the orders of Maharaja Kansa.
The king punishes the violators with fines or mild physical punishment.
Seventy-five artistes have been selected to play various characters in the Dhanu Yatra at Mathura while 45 artistes would perform at Gopapur, said Dhanu Yatra Mahotsav Samiti convener Sureswar Satpathy.
Besides, at least 3,000 artistes from 120 cultural troupes from across the country will perform at the Raj Durbar and Ranga Mahal during the festival, Satpathy said.
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