14 June 2019
Bhubaneswar: When in various parts of India, the biological menstrual cycle of women is still being considered a taboo; it is celebrated in Odisha annually as an age-old tradition.
Raja (pronounced as raw-jaw) festival is a very intriguing festival which celebrates the menstrual cycle of Mother Earth once a year, and the young girls and ladies are pampered these three days.
When there is a talk all over the world to empower women, the Raja festival truly eulogises the girl child and is a manifestation of woman empowerment.
Learn about some intriguing and interesting facts regarding this festival.
1: The term ‘Raja’ is derived from Rajaswala which means a menstruating woman.
2: It is a three day affair, during which the girls and women take rest from work and don new attire.
3: During the festival, all the agricultural operations remain suspended, as Mother Earth is given full rest during this period. It is believed that the land goes through regeneration during this period, an act likened to the menstrual cycle of an unmarried girl or woman, which should not be 'disturbed'.
4: Each day of the festival has its own name and significance - the first day is called Pahili Rajo, second day is Mithuna Sankranti, signifying the beginning of solar month of Mithuna i.e., the rainy season, the third day is Bhu Daaha or Basi Raja.
5: On the first day, the young girls rise before dawn, anoint their bodies with turmeric paste and oil their hair, then purify themselves with a bath. Interestingly, they don’t bath the remaining two days.
6: Girls are prohibited from walking barefoot; they do no grind, cut or cook these three days. Traditionally, it is the men-folk who do all these chores.
7: The girls are seen decked up in their new dresses, and spend their time playing cards, swings and merry-making.
8: Folk songs of Raja are hummed all around; men-folk keep their spirits high with hopes of a good harvest and keep themselves entertained in various types of country games and professional ‘jatra’ performances.
9: Raja Parba basically celebrates the advent of monsoon and fertility of ‘Bhudevi’. It is enthusiastically celebrated all over the state in a very joyous manner.
10: The most special thing about Raja festival is that it correlates the fertility of land to that of a woman. In simple words, it celebrates a girl's onset of womanhood, i.e. menstruation.
It is high time that people accept the fact that menstruation is a part of life cycle and part of reproduction process. It signifies fertility. So it’s important that festivals like Raja are celebrated.