Dhanu Jatra

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Dhanu Jatra
Kansa of Bargarh Dhanu Yatra
Observed by Residents of Bargarh and ambapali with incoming visitors
Begins Pausha Shukla Chaturthi
Ends Pausha Purnima
2014 date 06 Jan- 16 Jan
2015 date 26 Dec- 06 jan
Related to SriKrishna, Kansa

Dhanu Jatra or Dhanu Yatra is a drama festival celebrated in Western Odisha based on mythological story of Krishna, and his demon uncle Kansa. Nowadays this play, enactment is being performed in many places across Western Odisha, but the most famous and oldest place of performance being at Bargarh [1] It is about the episode of Krishna and Balaram's visit to Mathura to witness the ceremony of 'Bow' organised by their mama (maternal uncle)Kansa or Kamsa. The plays start with the dethroning of emperor Ugrasen, by the angry prince Kansa, over the marriage of his sister Debaki with Vasudev, and ends with death of Kansa, and Ugrasen restoring back to become the King.

There is no written script used in these enactments.


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 symbolised the end of colonial rules.[2]


The main municipality area turns into the historical town of Mathura Nagari, river Jeera turns into Yamuna, Ambapaali village (now a ward - part of Bargarh municipality) becomes Gopapura. A Pond by the side of Jeera river in Ambapali becomes the Kalindi Lake of the mythology. Since 2005, Nishamani School Ground has been used as the Rangamahal - Cultural stage of the festival.

There are many other towns/ villages of western Odisha, where this drama enactment is done in recent years, following the success and popularity of the Bargarh stage. The notable places are Thuaapaali, Remanda,


The daily vegetable market inside the heart of the town becomes the main stage of the festival. Temporary stage is built up using bamboo, cloth and other decorating materials. The cement concrete roof of market shops works as main platform. cultural troops, perform here in presence of King Kansa, invited guest and eager audience ranging from children to old people.

There is the historical place of 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 [3] 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.


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 are quite common on almost all walls of the village.

Yamuna River[edit]

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.



Year wise prime actors[edit]

2009 - 2015 Dhanuyatra - Kansa- Hrushikes bhoi.

Events that require a special mention[edit]

Known as world's biggest open air theatre,[4][5] it is held at bargarh since 1947.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Koshal Discussion and Development Forum
  2. ^ Bargarh Dhanu Yatra Govt. website, maintained by National Informatics Centre
  3. ^ http://www.orissasangeetnatak.org/folkart.html
  4. ^ "The Hindu : Other States / Orissa News : Bargarh gears up for Dhanu Yatra". hindu.com (Chennai, India). 23 December 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2013. The 11-day cultural extravaganza is globally known as world’s largest open-air theatre. 
  5. ^ "All of Bargarh's a stage for Dhanu Yatra - Times Of India". indiatimes.com. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2013. It is also referred to as the world's biggest open-air theatre 
  6. ^ Guru, Sudeep Kumar (16 December 2011). "Dhanu yatra to begin in Puri". telegraphindia.com (Calcutta, India). Retrieved 18 January 2013. The festival is being held Bargarh since 1947. 

Booklet brochure published by Dhanuyatra Mahotsav Samiti, Bargarh on the occasion of 65th year, from 6th Jan. 2014 till 16th Jan 2014.

External links[edit]