Odisha is a land of ancient temples and colourful festivals, famous for its rich culture, tradition and heritage. A lesser-known wonder of Odisha is the festival that celebrates womanhood like no other place in the world! It’s called Raja Parba or Mithuna Sankranti, a four-day festival wherein a girl’s first step into womanhood is celebrated.
More about the festival
The term Raja comes from Sanskrit word Rajas, meaning menstruation, and a woman who is menstruating is known as Rajaswala. As per the locals, Goddess Earth, who is also considered Lord Vishnu’s consort, goes through menstruation on the first three days of the festival.
The day prior to the first day of the Raja Parba is Sajabaja. This is the preparation day, when the entire house including kitchen is cleaned thoroughly. Spices are ground on the grinding stone for three days. While everyone else works hard for the preparation, women just sit, relax and pamper themselves. Women wear new clothes, beautiful jewellery and wear alta (red colour) and simply enjoy the day.
The first day of the festival is called Pahili Raja, the second is called Mithuna Sankranti (marks the starting of rains), the third day is known as Basi Raja and the last and the fourth day is Vasumati Snana.
On day four, women are taken to the grinding stone where they bath with turmeric paste. Then, they are decked up with fresh flowers and jewellery more. Later, the ceremonial bath of Bhudevi, Lord Jagannath’s wife, takes place, which completes the festival.
This celebration of the menstrual cycle of Mother Earth is also seen as a proof of the fact that ancient rituals and traditions in the country had no taboo regarding menstruation unlike at many places today.
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