The World’s Largest Drama-based open-air theater celebrated in Bargarh, Odisha that got its recognition on the Guiness Book is the DHANU YATRA. This festival is celebrated by the residents of Bargarh and Ambapali spreading across a radius of 8 km around the municipality of Bargarh.
DHANU YATRA is a festival in which drama skills are used in order to depict the glorious stories of the past. The stories that are enacted during the DHANU YATRA are mythological relating to the tales of Lord Krishna. The tales of Lord Krishna and his uncle King Kansa that are mainly originated in Bargarh are played during the DHANU YATRA. This festival of DHANU YATRA starts during Pausha Shukla Chaturthi and ends at Pausha Purnima. During DHANU YATRA of 11 Days Bargarh Stand as Mathura Nagari & Ambapali as Gopalpura.
The script of the drama played during DHANU YATRA starts from the incident in which is the dethroning of the emperor Ugrasena by the angry prince Kansa, over the marriage of his sister Devaki with Basudeba, and the play ends with the death of Kansa, and Ugrasen restoring back to become the king. The entire life of Lord Krishna from birth till dethroning King Kansa. The entire play revolves around the mythological stories thus the festival does not require any fixed script. The mythological aspect of this festive says that the starting episode DHANU YATRA is about Krishna and Balaram visiting Mathura to witness DHANU YATRA organized by his maternal uncle Kansa. The entire city is used in this festival, the vegetable market at the heart of the city is rendered as Mathura, a nearby village named Ambapaali is rendered as Gopapura, and Jeera river flowing on the western side of the village is rendered as river Yamuna.
DHANU YATRA was recognized as a National Festival by the Government of Odisha in the year 2014. During the festival, the character of King Kansa can curse or punish anyone from the audience. The Chief Minister of Odhisa, Biju Patnayak and his cabinet of ministers also got punished by Kansa. Local stories about DHANU YATRA say that this festival is a way to celebrate freedom, which was observed to celebrate the end of British rule over India and the death of King Kansa symbolizes the end of colonial rule.