Odisha In ‘Raja’ Festivity Mood, 150 ‘Dolis’ Turn Cynosure In Bhubaneswar

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Cuttack/Bhubaneswar: "Banaste Dakila Gaja, Barasake Thare Asichi Raja" (a folk song hummed in Raja festival) is heard all across Odisha, where Raja, major 3-day-long cultural extravaganza began today.

Being an agrarian State of eastern India, also predominantly an agri-based country, ‘Raja’ in Odisha not only pays due reverence to Mother Earth, but also womanhood and especially the pride and prestige of the girl child. Even though the real taste and flavour lie in the core of sylvan rural milieu, Raja festival has its mesmerizing effect in the urban areas across Odisha too.

The belief being Mother Earth menstruated during this period challenges the taboo around menstrual blood being “impure” and celebrates womanhood with great fervour across the State.

The first day, also known as Pahili Raja, is marked with a festive mood all across the State- from the rural pockets to the metros. Swings, new clothes, traditional pithas (cakes), special paan (betel) and different traditional games are special draws for the maidens on this unique occasion.

Unmarried girls paint their feet with alata (a red liquid) and mehandi. They take a break from the household chores and play games and swings, savouring the Odia  delicacies.

 In the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the Raja festive mood can be seen at various places and parks, where the festival is organised in a grand manner.

One of the major attraction in Bhubaneswar is the ‘150 swings’ set up at Patrapada, where a good number of young girls and women turned up to celebrate their ‘Pahili Raja’.  The organisers have put up beautiful swings and arranged an array of special Odia cuising suitable for the occasion.

Other than this arrangement, the different malls and restaurants have set up swings to attract their customers on this occasion. Special stalls selling ‘Raja’ paan and ‘poda pitha’ can be found at many places in the city. Along with all this, special cultural programmes are also organised throughout the 3-day-long extravaganza.

“We look forward to this annual festival and try out different delicacies prepared at home. It is pure fun,” said swinging Sanghamitra in Patrapada.

Similarly, specials arrangements were made in Cuttack city for the festival with various shopping malls, designer stores and other commercial establishments offering heavy discounts to woo the customers’ especially teenage girls.

“This is the time all the cousins come and enjoy together. We have a blast," said a joyful girl in Cuttack. Some of the excited teens said that new outfits, family get-together, raja special ‘pana’ and movie outings is what they wait for every year.

Cute little girl from Cuttack city Rutuparna Khilar beamed, “I’m elated at coming over to Bhubaneswar’s Patrapada. Last year also I had come here and this spot had a large number of trees. The swings were tied to their branches. But, the trees have fallen down due to the cyclone. For this reason, the swings are dangling from bamboo scaffolds. It is sunny here, but I don’t feel the pinches of heat as I’m in a pleasant mood.”  

“Today morning we had ‘pitha’ (pancake) and also ‘pan’ (betel). I’ve come here with my parents are sister. Also uncle and aunty have accompanied us. Here also ample arrangement has been made for the various sweetmeats traditionally prepared for the occasion,” she narrated.

In her reactions on the day, Maytree Swain said, “I have been coming over here from its start. Now it has developed, so feeling very good. I had never expected that this time the arrangement will be nice after cyclone’s destruction over here.”

“Of course, it’s a good festival for the girls. It is once in a year. We eagerly wait for these three days. We put on new dress, have ‘pitha’ (pancake), move around visiting friends and relatives. As per the tradition, ‘pan’ (betel), variety of ‘pitha pana’ (sweet dishes) are made at home,” she beamed.

Rosalin Beura said, “We have been living here for the last 15 years and the celebration is very nice. Despite the FANI devastation, we are celebrating it in scorching sun and enjoying a lot among friends.”

Priyanka Parida in her reactions said, “Celebration is passing on well. Got up early in the morning and have come here to enjoy. Patrapada Raja celebration is famous. Earlier there used to be great number of swings, but this time less due to FANI. We have some Raja special dishes ready at home for the occasion. We put on new dress and make-up and move around.”

Monasini Mohanty said, “As most of the trees here have been uprooted by FANI, feeling very sad. First is ‘pahili Raja’, we loiter around, second day the same and third day also the same way of celebrations. I have come here with my friends now. Also come again with my family at 4 pm.”

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Rutuparna Khilar, Cuttack City

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Maytree Swain, Bhubaneswar

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Rosalin Beura, Bhubaneswar

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Priyanka Parida, Bhubaneswar

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Monasini Mohanty, Bhubaneswar

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Raja Celebration in Cuttack City