Banaste Dakila Gaja
Barasa ke thare asichi Rajo,
Asichi Rajo lo hua gheni saja baja,
Boula la hua gheni saja baja…
The entire land of Odisha cheers with the melody of this song written above, which rings from the various corners of the state. Even though most states in India are still raging with the struggles of taboos related to menstruation, the Indian state of Odisha rejoices over a 3-day long festival celebrating menstruation and womanhood.”The Raja” as they call it, is a celebration by and for women. It religiously depends on the belief that Mother Earth menstruates for these three days and she is given a stately shower on the fourth day. For these three days, no agricultural activities such as ploughing and planting happens as
Mother Earth is relied upon to be experiencing the divine rest. Mother earth nourishes herself to extinguish her thirst by the approaching showers. The unmarried young ladies of the family are prepared for looming marriage through this celebration. It is said to be the praising call for the arrival of monsoon, which is euphorically masterminded by the locals with all vigour. The first day is designated as “Pahili Raja”, second is “Raja Sankranti” and third is “Bhumi Dahana or Basi Raja”.
The ritual of honoring the menstrual cycle of Mother Earth through the pomp and show of Raja celebration is a proclamation of the way that the general public has been untouchable to the monthly cycle of women in the past days.
For some, the Raja celebration is notable for its closeness to agricultural class, and people from various corners of Odisha celebrate it with all vigour and joy. Then again, we miss a bigger message of women freedom that this celebration implies. It recognizes the ladies as it is made naturally and thus liberating her from a cultural weight. As a message to society, the celebration of Raja festival , has a name Raja meaning “periods” which is regularly left ignored in numerous aspects of social orders, in prompts of acknowledgement by calling it as “ladies problem’’.
As it is a festival of womanhood, a great deal of the attention is on young ladies. The women wear new garments, apply ‘Alata’ on their feet and applaud people’s melodies while swinging. The Raja Doli or the Raja swing, is lavishly beautified rope swings which is one of the primary attractions during the celebrations. The swings are decorated with multi-colored blossoms and mango leaves. The ladies and kids swing singing the celebration tunes. Swings are constructed everywhere such as in town plantations, nurseries, city parks and villages aganas (backyards). The best part is during the celebrations the female members are absolved from the house-hold chores and cooking. “Poda Pitha”, or the burnt cake prepared using rice, urad coconut and raisins is another fundamental part of the celebration. Generally made by wrapping the batter with banana leaves and simmering over an earthen “chulha”. This Pitha is one of the numerous sweet delights of Odisha. Poda Pitha, alongside the hankering for sweet paan, is said to be the most loved of Lord Jagannath. Another most significant work incorporates the gathering of “Lal Tuku Sadhaba Bohu” (Trombidiidae, Red velvet bugs). It is an Odia custom to gather “Sadhaba Bahu” during the stormy season at the hour of the Raja Parba. This is a one of a kind custom and generally seen in provincial territories of Odisha, however it is uncommon to be found these days.
Raja celebration is the pride of Odisha and one of the most well-known celebrations celebrated in beachfront territories of Odisha. Odisha not just praises the celebration of Raja with fun but additionally commends the significance of womanhood and richness with the most extreme need.
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