Raja Utsav | Odisha | Festival
Odisha is also referred to as the land of Lord Jagannath. During this era, the state remains in a state of jubilation and celebration. There are 13 kinds of festivals celebrated in 12 months; Odisha celebrates every festival of different cultures the whole year. Raja festival is widely celebrated for three days during the middle of June, preferably starting from 14th June and ends on 16th.
During Summers, the blue sky seems dark and white, with patches of rain-bearing clouds moving here and there. The scorching rays of the Summer of April should settle down by the arrival of the South-West Monsoon within the first week of June through its tender drops. During this temperate weather, relief from the warmth, and the new hope for the following agricultural season Raja Parba is widely known. Hence, it's a festival of great importance for the people who depend on agricultural products for their living.
The word Raja in Odia means menstruation, and it's a conjecture that mother Earth goes for a three-day cycle during this era. These three days of the earth cycle end within the fourth day with Basmati Gaadhua, which suggests the washing of mother Earth. During this event, people worship mother Earth by bathing pieces of stone as reproduction and pray for a prosperous agricultural year within the days to return.
This ritual of celebrating the cycle of Mother Earth through the Raja festival is an acknowledgment of the very fact that society had no taboo regarding the menstruation of girls in past days. It had been treated as usual within the society where today women are kept in segregated places during their periods and aren't allowed to enter a temple treating them impure.
For many, the Raja festival is critical for its closeness to the agricultural class, and other people celebrate it for fun and merrymaking. On the other hand, we miss a more important message of girls' liberation that this festival signifies. It acknowledges the lady because it is made naturally and therefore freeing her from any burden of society. The festival features the name, Raja, meaning menstruation which is usually kept secret in many societies, results in a greater acceptance of genuine woman issues.
This festival is only celebrated in Odisha. A lot of people outside Odisha are pretty unaware of any such festival.
But in a world where women's rights are sought, women's menstrual hygiene may be a severe issue; with 23 million girls dropping school in India thanks to it, this festival should be an eye-opener for several. Alongside all awareness campaigns, the celebration of this festival of Raja will improve the lady's menstrual hygiene and help liberate more and more women from societal taboo.
Facts and Rituals associated with Raja Festival:
The only festival within the world which celebrates womanhood and menstruation.
Mother earth menstruates for three days as Ashada Masa (rainy season) steps in.
The first day is Pahili Raja; the second is Mithuna Sankranti; the third day is Bhudaaha or Basi Raja.
The fourth day is named Vasumati snana, during which ladies bathe the grinding stone as a logo of Bhumi with turmeric paste and adore on flower sindoor etc.
Women wear new clothes and decorate themselves.
Women are given an opportunity from household work, spend time on swings, play indoor and outdoor games, and eat delicious food.
Odisha stands bent to celebrate the cycle, standing out and saying that ladies aren't impure during their periods.
Last year, the district administration in Keonjhar, where the Raja festival is widely known on a much bigger scale, banned all congregations associated with the occasion.
How it's Celebrated:
Every day of this festival celebrated within June features a different significance. The primary day is named "Pahili Raja, "or the primary day of Raja. The second day is Mithun Sankranti; the third day is called 'Bhu Daha,' or Basi Raja. The fourth day, i.e., the Judgment Day of the festival, is named Vasumati Snan. In this, women need to bathe and decorate. In some parts, women even have to grind turmeric, and therefore the Earth is being worshipped. All types of fruits are being offered. The day is named Sajabja, where preparations for this festival happen. The kitchen and, therefore, the entire home are cleaned. All the spices are kept separately. During these three days, women don't need to attend the kitchen. However, as per the rituals on the first day, the ladies rise before dawn, wash their hair, anoint their bodies with turmeric paste and oil, and then take the purificatory bath during a river or tank. In Particular, bathing for the remaining two days is prohibited. Women need to wear Alta. Jewelry has got to be worn alongside new clothes. During all the three consecutive days, they're seen within the better of dresses and decorations, eating cakes and rich food at the homes of friends and relatives, spending long free hours.