Raja or Raja Parba or Mithuna Sankranti is a three-day-long festival of womanhood celebrated in Odisha, India. The second day of the festival signifies beginning of the solar month of Mithuna from, which the season of rains starts.
Simple , I have a very proud and amazing feeling towards this festival.
It’s the 21st century but poor we are still taking menstruation or menstruating women as taboos. But , my state has it’s own way of celebrating it. Yes , I am talking about RAJA .
For those who don’t know what Raja is , it is a 3 days festival celebrated in Odisha. This festival is specially meant for girls and women . Also the main intention is celebrating menstruation and womennhood.
Those who think menstruating women are impure or should be remain untouched , they should definitely see how this taboo is changed into a festival.
According to tradition , during these 3 days our Mother Earth goes through menstruation. And on the last day the rain bath takes place.
During these 3 days no agricultural works like ploughing , sowing doesn’t take place. These days are complete rest days for our Mother Earth.
And for the girls of Odisha , we can say it is one of the most awaited festivals. During these days , most of the girls wear new dresses , get ready , wear Alata and Mehendi etc.
Various delicious dishes like Manda Pitha , Kakara Pitha , Chakuli Pitha are made during these days. And the most popular among them is the Poda Pitha.
We also eat the famous Raja Pana .
In ancient times , this festival was being celebrated only in between the tribals but now it has been spread throughout Odisha due to change of time and respect towards womennhood.
Raja Parba, Odisha’s festival celebrating the onset of monsoons and the earth’s womanhood begins today. To celebrate the advent of monsoon, the joyous festival is arranged for three days by the villagers.
The day before first day is called Sajabaja.The first day is called “Pahili Raja” (First Raja), second is “Raja Sankranti” (Proper Raja) and third is “Basi Raja” (Past Raja).The final fourth day is called Vasumati snana, in which the ladies bath the grinding stone as a symbol of Bhumi with turmeric paste and adore with flower, sindoor etc.
The festival relates the menstrual cycle of the Goddess with the beginning of the agricultural season.
Sajabaja is the day when girls decorate hands and feet with AALTA and get ready for the four day long carnival.
“Banaste dakila gaja,barasake thare asichhi raja, ani kete sajabaja”.
This folk song expresses the enthusiasm of young women that this festival brings for them by describing how the elephants are calling in the forest and the Raja festival has come once in a year, bringing much pomp and show with it”.
Poda Pitha – An authentic Odia dish made during the Raja Festival!
Raja festival cannot be complete without the paan, the mouth freshener in its sweet form.
Basumati Snana festival is dedicated to Mother Earth and is celebrated mainly in Orissa in India. The festival is sort of a continuation of the Raja Sankranti festival. Special poojas are offered to Mother Earth for nourishing all the living beings.
What They Do During These Days?
They don’t walk bare-foot do not scratch the earth, do not grind, do not tear anything apart, do not cut and do not cook. During all the three consecutive days they are seen in the best of dresses and decorations, eating cakes and rich food at the houses of friends and relatives, spending long cheery hours, moving up and down on improvised swings, rending the village sky with their merry impromptu songs.
The swings are of different varieties, such as ‘Ram Doli‘, ‘Charki Doli‘, ‘Pata Doli‘, ‘Dandi Doli‘ etc. Songs specially meant for the festival speak of love, affection, respect, social behaviour and everything of social order that comes to the minds of the singers. Through anonymous and composed extempore, much of these songs, through sheer beauty of diction and sentiment, has earned permanence and has gone to make the very substratum of Odisha’s folk-poetry. While girls thus scatter beauty, grace and music all around, moving up and down on the swings during the festival, young men give themselves to strenuous games and good food, on the eve of the onset of the monsoons, which will not give them even a minute’s respite for practically four months making them one with mud, slush and relentless showers, their spirits keep high with only the hopes of a good harvest. As all agricultural activities remain suspended and a joyous atmosphere pervades, the young men of the village keep themselves busy in various types of country games, the most favourite being ‘Kabadi’. Competitions are also held between different groups of villages. All nights ‘Jatra’ performances or ‘Gotipua‘ dances are arranged in prosperous villages where they can afford the professional groups. Enthusiastic amateurs also arrange plays and other kinds of entertainment
History Of Pahili Raja
There is no written history of when this festival is started. It is believed to be started from some tribal area and spread across Odisha. But Pahili Raja is just the first day of the 3 Day Raja festival. This festival celebrates womanhood and menstruation. That is why this is special as mensuration is considered as a taboo in maximum parts of India.
This is the time when mansoon clouds reach Odisha and the rainy season starts. So it is believed that Mother Earth is getting fertile and no farming activity is done for these 3 days to give rest to Mother earth. It is also believed that Mother earth(Also Considered as Bhudevi – Wife of Lord Jagannath or Vishnu) undergoes mensuration and is given a ceremonial Bath on the 4th day called as Vasumati Snana. As like maximum festivals if India, this is also related to farming.
Girls and women are also treated as same and given rest from all works for these 3 days. It’s the time of celebration. Different types of foods are prepared. Especially Pithas like Podapitha(You can consider it as a cake made of Black Gram paste) is very popular among people during this time. Both women and men, kids, young and adult are busy playing games both indoor and outdoor. You are not allowed to work and not allowed to sleep either during day time. So the whole day is full of joyful activities. Families unite and happy moments are created for these 3 days.
I am missing my good old days living outside Odisha due to other commitments. But every Odisha people is Proud of it and other parts of India should learn how mensuration is not a taboo rather a celebration.