Orissa Celebrates Dhanuyatra for Lord Krishna's Lila


Kamsa Orders the Demons to Harrass the Yadus
Mathura painting, c. 1525

Jan 13, BHUBANESHWAR, ORISSA (NEW KERALA.COM) — Lord Krishna is worshipped by devotees in different manner on various occasions across the world. People in Orissa celebrate the “Krishna Leela” (or the romantic dances of Krishna) in a special way by organising “Dhanuyatra”, a popular folk festival in Orissa.

Marked to celebrate the victory of good over evil, “Dhanuyatra”, which is based on the life of Lord Krishna and death of King Kansa, lasts for 10 days at Bargarh, an industrial town in Orissa.

Organised in a town sprawling over 30 square kilometre, the festival is held every year in the month of “Pausa”, which is usually the period of January. This year it has begun on January 5 and will culminate with the killing of King Kansa on this Sunday (January 15).

All villagers and people from nearby towns participate in the festival. The whole locality becomes the stage. The town transforms itself as Mathura, Ambapali as Gopapura and the river Jira becomes Yamuna. A stage is set in the form of a royal court where the subjects dance before King Kansa.

Without a script and a director, people from across different sections of the society of the town participate in a large open theatre.

People in large numbers throng the centre of the town to witness King Kansa holding the grand Durbar (or, assembly). The artist enacting as Kansa rides an elephant and a cavalcade is taken out through the town. On the last day, sweets are distributed to celebrate the victory of good over evil.

"The procession passes through every lane. We can feel how the subjects were tortured by King Kansa. It is nice to watch it and we watch it throughout the 10 days. On the last day when Kansa is killed by Sri Krishna, we distribute sweets," says Reena Dash, a visitor.

According to Gopal Sahoo, a police sub-inspector, who has been enacting the role of King Kansa for a long time, a joint effort has been made by the administration along with the residents and the media to popularise this large theatre in the country.

"For 10 years, residents, administration and the media focus their attention on the Dharma Yatra (or, religious procession). It is in fact an open street drama," says Gopal Sahoo.

Though the origin of this tradition is not known, but the Dhanuyatra has been organised since 1947.


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