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Dhanu Jatra

Dhanu Jatr: Festival of Orissa

Dhanu Jatra is a distinctive festival celebrated in the small town of Bargarh to commemorate the visit of Lord Krishna to Mathura. It is a distinguishing form of annual festivity, in which the small isolated Bargah town of Orissa, turns into a massive open-air theatre. The life and activities of Lord Sri Krishna starting from the killing of Demon Putana to the subduing of Kaliya snake is performed over a period of eleven days.

Unlike stage shows, this play moves through different parts of the village. The venue changes along with the change in scenes. The wedding procession of Devaki and Vasudev, for example, is done in one village while the scene in Gopapur where Krishna was growing with the villagers is done in another village. Thus the town of Bargarh becomes Mathura, the river Jira becomes Yamuna and the village Amrapalli on the other bank of the river becomes Gopa. Different acts of the Puranic descriptions are performed at their right places and the spectators move from place to place to see the performance of actors in different episodes.

The Dhanu Jatra iis a special festival of Orissa and is celebrated by preparing a special delicacy made of sweetened rice flakes called Dhanu Muan which is offered to Lord Jagannath. Formerly Dhanu Jatra occurred in mime, as background singers in chorus delivered episodes from the medieval Oriya epic, Mathura Mangala i.e. ‘Panegyric of Mathura’. Now prose dialogue has been introduced. All performers are amateurs belonging to both villages. Villagers gather in thousands to witness the performance. The mode of presentation provides scope for mass participation as well.

 

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