A quick perusal of Odisha's Calendar would reveal that it is a state interspersed with copious festivals that are celebrated throughout the year with a lot of vigour and pageantry. Considering its rich heritage and culture, it should be of little surprise that the world-famous Rat- Yatra, which takes place in June, is not the only festival celebrated with enthusiasm and fervour in this state. Raja Festival a unique three-day-long celebration of menstruation and womanhood in Odisha. The day will be celebrated on June 14th this year. The festivities of this day begins a day before Mithuna Sankranti and ends after two days.

History and Significance

Raja Day is celebrated in honour of Mother Earth and as an extension of all women in the state of Odisha. This day is based on the historical belief that mother earth (Bhuma Devi) menstruates for three days and for those three days, the land of Odisha should be free from any agricultural activity like ploughing or sowing since mother earth is expected to be going through a rejuvenation.

Raja festival is a three-pronged festival in celebration of women in Odisha. The first day of the festival is called Pahili Raja, the second is termed  Mithuna Sankranti and the third Bhu Daha or Basi Raja. The days are marked with their own customs and traditions. On the first day, they believe it is a time for unmarried girls to prepare for their matrimony. On Pahili Raja Day the girls consume nutritious food like Podapitha and swing on ropes attached to a tree in celebration of this day. Walking barefoot is also not encouraged on this day. On Mithuna Sankranti, people offer their prayers to the Sun god (Surya Bhagwanfor a balanced rainfall.

The festival ends with a custom called Vasumati Snana or the bathing of mother earth (Bhuma Devi). On this day, Women give mother earth's stone sculpture a bath with turmeric paste and offer her flowers and smear her with Sindoor. The festival also signifies the end of summer and the beginning of the monsoon in the state of Odisha.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 14, 2021 10:35 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).