Thursday, February 01, 2007


A small town Bargarh and its nearby areas of Orissa ( India) are transformed into a big open theatre , in the winter every year. Bargarh becomes Mathura, the kingdom of Kamsa, while Ambapalli village in the outskirts of the town is Gopapura where Lord Krishna grew up as a child. The Jira river between Bargarh and Ambapalli becomes river Yamuna. A play named as Dhanu Yatra is being played for 11 days. A dharamsala in the town serves as King Kamsa’s palace and another public place becomes a makeshift prison where Devaki and Vasudeva, the parents of Lord Krishna, were imprisoned by Kamsa and where Krishna was born. During the unique drama , Bargarh town becomes an open air theatre During this 11days long drama, King Kamsa virtually ‘rules’ the town, and calls the shots. He summons the district officials including the collector and the SP, and gives them a dressing-down in his ‘durbar’ if he notices anything amiss. He catches offenders on the streets and slaps a fine on them. He enters government offices and pulls up indisciplined officials. Of course, everybody obey him. There are even instances of King Kamsa summoning the State’s Chief Minister and many V.I.Ps also to his ‘durbar’.
The drama begins with the marriage of Lord Krishna’s parents, Devaki and Vasudeva, and ends with Kamsabadha, the killing of Kamsa by his nephew Lord Krishna. As the different sequences of the play (yatra )— celebrated in this town for 58 years — are performed at different places, one has to move around to take in everything. Throughout the Dhanu yatra, King Kamsa is the centre of attraction as he is the supreme authority in the town.
Dressed like a king, the fat, moustachioed Kamsa moves around the town on a decorated elephant along with his “soldiers”. While touring the town one fine morning this year, during the fest, King Kamsa found a man parking his vehicle on the wrong side of the road in Bisipada. Perhaps it is one of the biggest open air theatres in the world