Dhanuyatra is an annual drama-based open-air theater tour in Bargarh, Odisha. Legend has it that the Mathura victory of the Haribhansh is staged in the form of a play in archery. Dhanuyatra Matul Kansa carries the memory of Lord Krishna’s Mathura Yatra to participate in the archery procession. If the king disobeys Kansa’s order, he will be punished even if he is in a high position. On this stage, Kansa also punishes the people for their guilt. Former Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik and his cabinet were also punished by Kansa.
Archery has been celebrated in Bargarh since the 16th. The Indians gained independence by removing the British in the 19th century. Some of the Hemali (coolie people) of Bargarh started the archery to celebrate the victory in a niara way. On the other hand, after witnessing the winter pilgrimage from Sambalpur, some enthusiastic youths held a meeting at the premises of the Ramji temple in Naikpada, Bargarh and drew up a plan of archery.
Starting from Poush Shukla Panchami, it is celebrated for eleven days with various scenes of Gop and Mathuralila and is celebrated with bronze on the day of Push Punei (Poush Purnima). The tour runs every day from 2pm to 10pm and is followed by a variety of entertainment programs throughout the night. For the pilgrimage, the city of Bargarh will be used as Mathura Nagar, the Panchayat Dharamsala as the palace, the Hatpada as the royal palace, the Lokmandap as the Rangmahal, the Ram temple as the wedding mandapa of Devaki Basudev, the courtyard of the Samaleswari temple as a prison,
According to the Bhagavad-gita, the relevant part is played in a certain place. Viewers go from one place to another to watch this performance. It’s so lively that it’s hard to tell the difference between acting and reality. Bronze is the final scene of the archery, followed by the celebration of the world’s largest open air theater. Crowds flock to see this final scene of the Sagittarius pilgrimage, which is celebrated every year on the full moon day of Poush. When Lord Krishna killed Kansa, the audience shouted in unison, “Kansa Raja Bansha Budu, Kansa Male Khaima Laddu.”
Krishna, not Balarama, but Kansa are the main attractions in the Bargarh Archery. The perfect performance of the actor in the role of Kansa feeds the audience with entertainment. In the first year of the archery, Bindurath was selected for the role of Kansa, while Pranabhandhu Kar was selected for the role of Krishna and former MLA Murari Prasad Mishra for the role of Balarama. After Bindurath’s death, Lupersingh’s Yudhisthira Shatapathi played the role of Kansa in the Bargarh Archery for 30 consecutive years. Later, Bhimsen Tripathi (Bargarh), Radheshyam Das, Nilanchal Das, Devendra Bishwal, Bhubaneswar played the lead roles in Kansa. From 1984 to 2007, Gopal Sahu (Eli) played the bronze role of Bargarh Archery, while Sanjib Das (Matu) was bronze for one day. Hrishikesh Bhoi Kansa of Chicholi village in Ambavona block has been playing the role of Kansa since 2008.
The actor, who plays the role of Kansa, goes to Shrikshetra after the journey and apologizes to Jagannath after conspiring to assassinate and humiliate Lord Krishna and Balarama, incarnate of Lord Jagannath, during the Sagittarius procession.