Celebration Of Womanhood: Raja Parba
Anonymous | Jun 15, 2020
This editorial has been submitted by Ms Ranjita Das, Stipendiary Assistant at Dean’s Office, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela.
Our society considers a menstruating girl as impure. If we talk about Odisha, there are different views & opinions on a menstruating girl. Still, an interesting fact is that Odisha is such a state where it celebrates a festival based on menstruation!
Raja comes from the word 'Rajaswala' which means a menstruating woman & Parba means festival in Odia.
Have you ever imagined a festival could be based on periods?
Menstruation + Celebration of Menstruation= Raja Parba
'Raja Parba', celebrated in Odisha marks the menstruation of Mother Earth which is equivalent to the menstrual cycle of a girl celebrating a woman's power to reproduce. It is believed that Mother Earth menstruates during this occasion. So, it implies Mother Earth's fertility which is similar to that in the case of girls.
This festival aims to break the taboos all around regarding menstruation. Raja festival is mainly celebrated by young unmarried girls. It is a celebration of three days. The very first day is known as Pahili Raja (First Raja) and the day before Pahili Raja is known as 'Saja Baja'. The second day is known as 'Raja Sankranti' and the third day is known as 'Basumati Snana' (bathing ceremony of the Mother Earth). During these days, young girls don't take part in any of the household chores. They play varieties of games, have fun and make merry. Even they don't walk with bare feet. Aren't these pleasant to hear?
Celebration of Raja:-
The entire Raja celebration constitutes several elements, such as:
- Raja Saja Baja (dressing up for the Raja festival): After taking a bath, girls dress up with new clothes during these days. They embellish Alta (a red dye) on their feet, Kumkum (Vermilion) on the head, Mehendi (Henna) on hands, etc.
- Raja Doli (swing) & Doli Gita: Several songs are sung by the girls while playing and enjoying on the swing.
- Raja Pitha/Poda Pitha (cake) is mainly prepared in every Odia kitchen on this special day. Other Odia cuisines are also made during these days that include traditional Pithas like Chakuli, Kakara, Arisa, etc.
- Raja Mitha Paana (Paan)/Sweet Betel- This special element of Raja has a huge demand during this grand festival.
- Raja Folk Song: Young girls sing a folk song during the celebration. Here's a little glimpse of that beautiful folk song:
Banste Dakila Gaja
Barshake Thare Asichi Raja,
Asichi Raja Lo
Gheni Nua Saja Baja ||
- Another most important work includes the collection of "Lal Tuku Tuku Sadhaba Bohu" (Trombidiidae, Red velvet mites): It is an Odia tradition to collect "Sadhaba Bahu" during the rainy season at the time of the Raja Parba. This is a unique tradition and mostly found to be observed in rural areas of Odisha, though it is very rare to be found nowadays.
Raja festival is the pride of Odisha & one of the most popular festivals celebrated in coastal areas of Odisha. Odisha not only celebrates the festival of Raja with fun and frolic but also celebrates the importance of womanhood and fertility with utmost priority.