OdishaLIVE Bureau

The local folk theatre of Dhanu Yatra has progressed with time while forging a deep relation with the spectators and the entertainers.

The Bargarh Dhanu Yatra is a unique theatrical spectacle of Bargarh town in Odisha. It features different mythological plays and events in a dramatized form throughout eleven days. Billed as the world’s largest open air theatre, the drama takes place across various stage setups in the ‘Rangmahal’ in an episodic form. Such an interaction binds together the audience and the performers.

Dhanu Yatra conforms to Indian idea of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’

The Indian philosophy of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘The whole world is a big Family’ is deeply manifest in the Bargarh Dhanu Yatra. Each of the elements of the play represents a particular facet of human nature.

The overall idea is to stay in solidarity with the human kind. Many artistes from diverse backgrounds and culture have played varied roles in the Dhanu Yatra thus forms a cultural family of sorts. The deep understanding and cooperation between the fellow participants has elevated the Dhanu Yatra to a whole new level. Thus the Bargarh Dhanu Yatra conforms to the ideal of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’.

A show of International Solidarity

The stage or ‘Rangmahal’ of Bargarh Dhanu Yatra is an amalgamation of performers and actors from all states and unions of India and abroad thus forming an international cultural unity. The said artists not only perform on stage but also spread their respective cultures and traditions among other participants in the Dhanu Yatra.

In turn this leads to solidarity among the national and international actors and the audience too. When the people learn together and express each other within themselves, they help take their respective culture and traditions to the outside world.

Ambapali regales in Krishna’s glory

Gopapura or modern day Ambapali revels in the spirit of the ‘Bhagwad Gita’ as it becomes the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The whole town is ecstatic at the prospect of seeing their beloved lord and the lakhs of audience visiting the Dhanu Yatra adds to the merriment.

Two kids are dressed up as Krishna and Balaram and the townsfolk of Ambapali revere them as literal Gods and hence return to the ‘Dwapara Yug’ as Gopapura, thousands of years back. Krishna manifests himself in the thoughts and feelings of every individual. Hence in a theatrical tradition, one finds shades of religion and mythology which then propagates itself to the world.

Concluding act of utmost importance

Bargarh witnesses Maharaja Kansa’s rule for eleven days. A negative character of the scriptures turns into the hero of the script for the time and everyone is bound to obey his rules. In the concluding act of the play, Kansa dies at the hands of Krishna. The act signifies to the people that corrupt, cruel and unjust ones always meet their end and have to face divine justice.

World famous ‘Rangmahal’ professes Humanity

Lakhs of people take part in the Bargarh Dhanu Yatra. These belong to various states, regions, caste, creed, religion, community, language etc. Of the eleven days that the event progresses, these people forget their individual identity and turn into a single audience. Thus this communion of varied actors and audience becomes a fine example of ‘Unity in Diversity’.

Since its inception, the Bargarh Dhanu Yatra has propagated international message of unity and togetherness. The organizers have promised to keep the tradition alive by holding the eleven day spectacle till posterity.

[This article is part of a digital media campaign on Bargarh Dhanu Yatra by OdishaLIVE. The campaign is powered by National Aluminum Corporation (NALCO) and supported by Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC)]

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