- Raja is generally associated with the farmers and is celebrated during the onset of monsoons
- Girls are forbidden from all kinds of manual work during these three days of the festival
- The young men of the village keep themselves busy in various types of country games, the most favourite being ‘Kabadi’
When the world is fighting for gender related issues, quite a few people are aware that one state in India are celebrating the Festival of Womanhood. The indigenous people of Orissa celebrates a four-day festival ‘Raja Parba’ to celebrate womanhood. Popularly known as Mithuna Sankranti, this festival also inaugurates and welcomes the agricultural year. The four-day festival falls on the first day of the month of Asadha (June-July) from which the rainy season starts, thus moistening the summer parched soil and making it ready for productivity.
As per mythology, It is believed that the mother goddess Earth (Bhumidevi) or the divine wife of Lord Vishnu undergoes menstruation during the first three days. The first day is called Pahili Raja, second day is Mithuna Sankranti, third day is Bhu daaha or Basi Raja. The term Raja has come from Rajaswala (meaning a menstruating woman.) Like Hindu women who are asked to abstain from work, Mother Earth is given rest by terminating all the agricultural activities like ploughing, plucking flowers , scratching earth and any other thing that would hurt Mother Earth.
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Girls are forbidden from all kinds of manual work during these three days of the festival. They don’t carry water, cut vegetables, and sweep the houses. Neither do they sew clothes, grind grains, comb hair or walk in bare foot The very first day, they rise before dawn, do their hair, anoint their bodies with turmeric paste and oil and then take the purificatory bath in a river or tank. During all the first three days ,women and unmarried girls look their best. They are seen in the best of dresses and decorations, eating cakes and rich food at the houses of friends and relatives and enjoy tree swings and play indoor games. This creates a happy and joyful atmosphere throughout the town .
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The fourth day is called Vasumati snan, where the ladies bath the grinding stone as a symbol of ‘Bhumi’ with turmeric paste and adore with flower and sindoor.
The young men of the village keep themselves busy in various types of country games, the most favourite being ‘Kabadi’. Competitions are also held between different groups of villages. All nights ‘Yatra’ performances or ‘Gotipua’ dances are arranged.Plays and other kinds of entertainment also take place.
This year in 2016, Raja Parba will be celebrated from June 14-17. Almost every village in Orissa transforms into a land filled with love ,celebrating the beauty of life during the four- day festival.
-by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14
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