Bhubaneswar: Dressed in new attires, women of all ages were today seen geared up to make the best out of their ‘Raja Saja Baja’ (pre-Raja celebrations) ahead of the three day socio-cultural extravaganza. For the delicious tasting treats of Raja, young girls swarmed to Panthanivas in capital city to have a gala time and consume the special-made ‘pithas’ (pancakes).
Vishal Dev, Secretary of Odisha Tourism Department said, “We started Raja celebrations in Panthanivas from 2011 onwards. Raja is an important Odia festival. We make sure that all aspects of the festival are properly represented. People’s response was very positive. Last year, we sold Rs 11 lakhs worth of pithas at different Panthanivas centres. Sadly this year, we were not able to host the event in Puri and Konark due to damages caused by Cyclone FANI.”
Stall-in-charge Sagar Dash said, “This time, we have 7-8 types of pithas. The rates are also less. We have poda, arisa, kakara, bhaja manda, sija monda, chakuli, dahibara, mandia pitha, mahula pitha, to attract people from all parts of Odisha.”
Archita Patra, who was having a gala time at Panthanivas said, “I have been coming here for 9 years now. The atmosphere of village where all friends get together, sing songs, eat paan and pithas, is perfectly recreated here.
An important part of the festival is girls swinging on ‘dolis’. These huge swings are tied to big, sturdy trees that support the weight on it. While several uprooted trees had left many dejected after Cyclone FANI, Panthanivas managed to set up a swing that gave a similar joy to the girls.
Monalin Routray said, “We do not get this kind of a feeling anywhere in the city. All rituals are properly done here (Panthanivas). All girls are in a jolly mood here. I would simply like to wish every a Happy Raja.”