Bhubaneswar, June 14 (LocalWire): The four-day harvest festival Raja marks the onset of the long waited monsoons in Odisha and the beginning of the agricultural year.
Here is what you should know about the Raja festival that is celebrated with much gaiety in the state and Odia’s all over the world.
1. The festival celebrates womanhood; the term Raja has been derived from Rajaswala, which means menstruating women.
2. This festival is marked by worship of Bhudevi or mother earth.
Bhudevi is the wife of Lord Jagannath and the three days signifies her menstrual days.
3. It was basically a tribal ritual until Mahapadma Nanda’s reign, during which it became popular all over the state, with women – both married and unmarried taking break from their daily routine to live the life of a queen.
4. The first day is known as Pahili Raja, the second day as Mithuna Sankranti, and the third day is celebrated as Bhu Daaha or Basi Raja.
Each day signifies a different phase of celebration with the second day signifying the beginning of Mithuna or the solar month.
5. The fourth day is known as Vasumati Snana or the day of the ceremonial bath. On this day, women and young girls do not take part in cooking and instead play games and celebrate.
6. During the festival, women engage themselves in making merry and eating rich and delicious food, as they dress up in their best and adorn themselves with ornaments.
7. Swings are an integral part of the festival and there is plenty of variety, including Ram Doli, Pata Doli, Charki Doli, and Dandi Doli.
These swings give this festival its name Raja Doli Khela.
8. Special varieties of local cakes Poda Pitha and burnt cake, Manda, Arisha, and Chakuli are prepared out of ingredients like rice powder, molasses, coconut, camphor, and clarified butter (ghee). Cakes and other Odia delicacies are also exchanged among relatives and friends.
The raja festival is all about respecting and celebrating women and womanhood.