Raja – Festival of Odisha: A celebration of Womanhood

Odisha- The land of Lord Jagannath celebrates numerous festivals over a year. There is a proverb in local “Odisha celebrates 13 festivals in 12 months”. Raja is one of the prominent festivals celebrates by Odisha.

Facts and Beliefs
The term ‘Raja’ itself comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Rajas’ means menstruation. And the word ‘Rajaswala’ means a menstruating woman.
Here people believe that Mother earth goes under menstruation during these days and this is the reason people named the occasion as ‘ Raja’.
This is the only festival in the world which celebrates ‘ womanhood’ and. ‘menstruation’. It usually falls in Mid June that is at the end of Jyestha masa ( Odia month) and starting of Asadha masa ( Odia month).
According to the popular belief, Mother Earth is a woman and as women menstruate. So mother earth menstruates. So all these three days consider as the menstruating period of Mother Earth. So during these days, no agricultural activities occur like plowing or sowing as the mother earth is expected to be going through a rejuvenation.

People celebrated Raja for 3 consecutive days. The day before Raja is known as ‘Sajabaja’. The first day is known as ‘Pahili raja’ and the second day is known as ‘Raja Sankranti or Mithuna Sankranti’ (first day of Asadha masa) and the third day is known as ‘ Basi Raja or Sesa Raja). The day after Raja is known as ‘ Bhumi Dahana’ or ‘Basmati Snana’.
On the day ‘Sajabaja’ people prepare themselves for the occasion like they clean their houses, pour the buckets full of water for the coming three days. Cook nourished foods and make swings with rope.
During these 3 days, women groom themselves as queens by wearing new clothes, ornaments Alata and Mehendi. They eat scrumptious foods and spend their time in wings and with some indoor and outdoor
As all the agricultural activities suspended. So men also enjoy Raja and spend their time flying kites and playing Cards, Ludo and the most interesting game’ Kabadi‘. On the day ‘Basmati Snana’ the Mother Earth takes a ceremonial bath.
Ladies bath the grinding stone with turmeric paste and cherish with flower, sindoor, and seasonal foods are also offered.

Also Read : How to celebrate Raksha Bandhan

The special food prepared on Raja is called ‘Poda Pitha’. Rice flour, gram, jaggery, coconut, dry fruits used to prepare this delicious Poda Pitha. And ‘Raja Pana’ ( Paan Leaf) also plays a vital role as every one gifted ‘Raja Pana’ to each other and wish ‘ HAPPY RAJA’.
Raja is the most awaited moment of every Odia. This is the only period in a whole year both men and women take rest from their daily work and celebrate the auspicious occasion.