Odisha’s Dhanu Jatra: When King Kansa Spares None, Pulls Up Officials & Even CMs

Bargarh: The tyranny of the demon king has begun in Mathurapuri Bargarh, which is hosting the 11-day annual Dhanu Jatra.

The huge mustachioed figure wearing a crown and riding a caparisoned elephant can be seen moving around the town, breaking into hysterical laughter, yelling at passers-by and slapping fines on the offenders.

It is that time of the year when ‘King Kansa’ virtually rules the town which transforms itself into a sprawling open air theatre. And it is heartening to see the administration and police, besides people, becoming a part of this age-old tradition and participating in it wholeheartedly

On Saturday, King Kansa summoned DIG (South Western Range), Himanshu Lal and Bargarh SP Padmini Sahoo to his darbar (court). Expressing displeasure over enemy slipping out of the jail, he directed the DIG to strengthen the security arrangement in Mathurapuri.

Earlier, the demon king had visited the block development office and pulled up the officials over discrepancies in implementation of various welfare schemes. He also a slapped a fine of three lakh gold coins on the officials for dereliction in duty.

He had also fined the District Transport Manager after locals complained about garbage being left unattended and lack of lavatory for women at the bus stand.

King Kansa also warned his subjects against driving without a helmet/seat belt, without a licence, under the influence of alcohol and restrained them from talking on mobile phone while on the wheels.

Last year, the demon king had summoned Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to his court and directed him to to build a cancer hospital in the area.

In the early 1990s, the then chief minister Biju Patnaik sportingly flew down to Bargarh from Bhubaneswar in a chopper  after being summoned by the king, who had also slapped a fine on him and his ministers.

Kansa had pulled up the local representatives of two Odia news channels for not giving good coverage to the Dhanu Jatra in the past.

“Many local problems get resolved during the festival following the intervention of Kansa and no offence is taken and no one holds any grudge,” said a resident of Bargarh.

Meanwhile, six kilometres away from his court, people are rejoicing the birth of Krishan at Ambapalli, considered the mythical Gopapur, on the banks of Jeera river, which in turn is given the role of River Yamuna.

Over 110 actors recreate magic in this the theatrical extravaganza through mythological tales of Krishna and King Kansa. More than 2,000 people in soldiers’ attire become part of the king’s processions at different locations. It begins with the marriage of Lord Krishna’s parents, Devaki (Kansa’s sister) and Vasudeva and ends with Kansavadha, the killing of the demonl king by Krishna.

The entire drama is based on ‘Harivamsa Purana’, an ancient scripture which chronicles the early life and times of Lord Krishna. Composed by Acharya Jinasena in 783 AD, it is divided into 66 cantos containing over 12,000 shlokas.

According to legend, Dhanu Jatra was first conceptualised about 150 years ago when some devotees of Krishna found similarities in the geographical area of Bargarh, Ambapali and the Jeera with Mathura, Gopa, Brindavan and River Yamuna. But an organised festival began only in 1948.

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