Dhanu Yatra cancelled, Odisha reminiscences good old days of ‘Mathura Nagari’

Dhanu Yatra is an open air theatrical performance celebrated in Bargarh, Odisha. This is the second consecutive year in which the event has been cancelled due to Covid. Photo: PTI

Mathura, since 1948, has been ‘undertaking’ a unique annual journey spanning over 1,400 kms to land in Odisha’s Bargarh. Bargarh then hosts Mathura for about 11 days as Ambapalli, located on the outskirts of the town, transforms into Gopapura and river Jeera, flowing to the west of Bargarh, becomes the Yamuna. A pond by its side transforms into lake Kalindi.

Bargarh, on its part, travels back in time to the mythological Dwapar Yug in which lord Krishna is said to have been born. While local newspapers in the district use ‘Mathura Nagari’ as the dateline, government officials see summons arriving from king Kansa, maternal uncle of lord Krishna. What’s more? The officials answer the summons by presenting themselves before the ‘court’, answering questions on administration and paying fines for lapses in discharging their duties. All of it forms part of world’s largest open air theatre, Dhanu Yatra, also known as Dhanu Jatra, performed over eight square kilometres.

Every year in the month of Dhanu or Pausa, between December and January, the popular Dhanu Yatra, sees Bargarh blur the lines between theatre characters and real humans, between incidents and performances.

This extravaganza, which was to take off today after being postponed in December, however, has been cancelled in the face of rising Omicron cases. Last year also, the Dhanu Yatra was cancelled due to Covid restrictions.

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