Celebrating the Menstrual Cycle: The Raja Festival in Odisha
Raja is one of Odisha’s biggest festivals. In Odisha, it is celebrated to signify womanhood and menstruation. A symbol of fertility and sacrifice the women make in the form of Mother Earth’s Rajaswala. It is the time when it is believed Mother Earth has her menstruation and girls are made to feel good by dressing up in gorgeous sarees, and ornaments, and alta eating uncooked but nourishing food, and swinging on swings made out of wooden planks and ropes.
Raja is celebrated as an occasion of soothing weather and relief from heat and hope for a new prosperous agricultural season to come. It is during these three days all the agricultural activities like tiling or constructional activities or anything that hurts mother earth are brought to a halt as a mark of respect to her during her menstruation. For many, it signifies the celebratory season for the agricultural class. Image Source India Today!
History of the Raja Festival
The Raja Festival was first mentioned in the 16th century text, the Odia Ramayana. In this text, the festival is described as a time when women are given a break from all household chores and other work. They are also pampered and treated with special respect.
During the British colonial period, the Raja Festival was suppressed, as the British considered it to be a pagan festival. However, the festival continued to be celebrated in secret by the people of Odisha.
After India gained independence in 1947, the Raja Festival was revived. Today, it is one of the most popular festivals in Odisha, and is celebrated by people of all religions and castes.
Food, Fashion, and Fun
During this festival, it is strongly believed that the celebration should not harm Mother Earth in any way. To uphold this belief, Villamart is offering chemical-free natural food products on the auspicious occasion of Raja. This is an effort to safeguard both the environment and you from harmful chemicals. So, if you wish to celebrate this festival without causing damage to the planet, ensure that you use chemical-free food products.
During the RAJA festival, it is customary for girls to consume nourishing food such as poda pitha and fresh fruits like mango, jackfruit, and others. They also prepare ambula raita made from mango seeds and offer fresh fruit prasad to Mata Bhumi Devi in the form of a stone.
At Vilamart, we provide all the necessary supplies for your RAJA celebration, including puja ingredients and ingredients for the delicious festive food. As an agriculture-based organization, we understand the significance of this festival and are committed to delivering fresh fruits, dried mango seeds, and other ingredients for poda pitha and ambula raita. Whether you need fresh fruits for a grand meal or puja ingredients, Vilamart is your one-stop destination for everything related to the RAJA festival.
As per tradition, young girls show their respect for Bhu Devi (Mother Earth) by wearing slippers made of banana leaves and throwing them away, to not harm Mother Earth. They also use wooden rope swings. Being an organization that deals with agriculture, we can provide fresh banana leaves for this auspicious occasion. Vilamart brings you closer to nature with its unique blend of nature-based shopping, connected to you using technology. We use modern technology that can help connect you with us to receive your orders. This technology also enables us to fulfill your orders on time.
Fashion also plays a significant role during Raja festival. Young girls and women adorn themselves in colorful traditional attire, with the “Alata” (a traditional red dye) decorating their feet and hands, adding a vibrant touch to the festivities. People also engage in traditional dance forms like Dalkhai, Gotipua, and Ghumura, adding to the joyful atmosphere.
Raja festival is more than just a regional celebration; it’s a testament to the cultural richness and traditions that have been preserved for generations in Odisha. It’s a reminder of the deep respect for nature, the power of womanhood, and the importance of agriculture in the lives of the people.
As the monsoon rains rejuvenate the Earth, Raja festival rejuvenates the spirits of the people. It’s a time for merriment, for recognizing the vital role of women in our society, and for celebrating the Earth’s fertility. Raja festival is a true embodiment of joy, culture, and respect for both womanhood and Mother Earth.
Author: Pragnya (Intern 2021-22)