4 Jan 2020

Dhanu Jatra- Biggest Open Theatre in the World


Dhanu Jatra is the biggest open-air theatrical performance in the world celebrated in Bargarh, Odisha in India. It's celebrated for 11 days long around the Bargarh town.

The main theme of this theatrical performance is based on the story of Lord Krishna and his uncle Kansa. But the difference is, here Krushna is not the lead character, Kansa is in the lead role.


The theatre is an 8-kilometer radius area around the Bargarh municipality where the visitors and guests also played a character in the drama. During the celebration, the Kansa rules the city and he usually calls the officers from various departments and also punishes them for their faults. He uses to visit the whole city by sitting on an elephant.


The person who plays the Kansa Character always takes care of his appearance. While he plays his devil character on the pandal, he appears like a real Devil and while interacting with people, he appears like a loveable character for the children and the dignity on the face like a real king.


To relate the character with that real character he uses to appear like him with big mustaches, in the way it's described by our forefathers in our ancient books. He puts some different makeup on his face to appear like a real devil.


Apart from these real things, he also plays the old ancient drama of Dhanu Jatra which includes the Gopa Leela of Krishna and his plans to kill Lord Krishna. During the celebration, the whole city turns into Mathura Puri and Gopa Pura. The river Jeera turns into the Yamuna river.


The whole story shows how Kansa rules over the Mathura Nagari and how he fears his nephew Krishna. On one side he rules like a good King and on the other side, he plans to kill Krishna.


The main story of the play starts with the marriage of Devaki and Basudev. After the marriage, Kansa hears about his death by the 8th child of Devaki. So, he put both of them in a prison and started killing one by one baby from Devaki. But Basudev replaces the 8th child with the child of Nanda Raja and Yasoda.


But unfortunately, Kansa comes to know about the originality of the 8th Child from the daughter of light, the baby from Nanda and Yasoda. So, he plans to kill Krishna in Gopapura.


Kansa sends Demons like Putana and others to kill Kanha. But unfortunately, everyone fell to kill him. Krushna and Balaram kill all the demons sent by Kansa.


Krishna plays with his friends, makes love with Radha near the Yamuna River. The whole place becomes like Gopapuri and the Gopies come to sell Dahi in the market. People who use to go there as visitors also buy Dahi from them.


During the drama, the whole place becomes like the exact Mathura and Gopapura. You could imagine about a time machine which may leave you in that ear of Kanha. The visitors also play with Kanha, they worship Kanha in this avatar.


The child, who plays the role of Kanha appears like real Kanha with blue in color wearing yellow dresses or Khandua Pata, the favorite dress of Lord Jagannath plays the flute seeks everybody's attention towards him.


According to our ancient story, Dhanu Yatra was organized by Kansa to kill Kanha at Mathura. So with the help of Akrura, he invited Krushna and Balaram to Mathura, but Krishna had killed Kansa there. 

It's said that the people of Bargarh reformed a new crew for this play in 1948 to celebrate the independence of India. By killing Kansa, it shows the defeat of the end of colonial rules.



- All these photographs are taken by Ansuman Rath and Tarani Trotter.
- You could follow Tarani Sir @TaraniTrotter and Ansuman sir @_AnsumanRath on Twitter.
- Most of the information are taken from Wikipedia as sources.
- And all the photographs are published here with the permission of the original photographer. If you are willing to reuse them, then please take the permission of the Photographers directly.

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