Bhubaneswar: Young girls in Odisha anxiously wait for 365 days to celebrate their beloved ‘Raja’ festival. Unique to Odisha alone, this three-day-long festival celebrates womanhood and girl child. During the extravaganza, girls get dressed in new attires, play games, relish delicious treats and have a gala time on swings. But do the girls know the significance behind the festival that pampers them?
It is important to establish here that the term ‘Raja’ is derived from ‘Rajaswala’ which means a menstruating woman. During the festival, all the agricultural works remain suspended as Mother Earth is given full rest during this period. It is believed that the land goes through regeneration, an act likened to the menstrual cycle of an unmarried girl or woman, which should not be ‘disturbed’. The festival correlates the fertility of land to that of a woman. In simple words, it celebrates a girl’s onset of womanhood, i.e. menstruation. It is a celebration of girls and women who symbolise productivity in the human context.
OMMCOM NEWS decided to put capital city girls to the test. While some came up with absurd answers, many others were left tongue-tied. You will be surprised to know that the importance of this decade-long tradition is still not well-known by a huge chunk of the present population.
While a city college girl could simply answer, “On that day, the girls dress up in their best and play swings,” she couldn’t find the right answer on the real purpose behind the age-old cultural celebration.
Another college girl confidently and smilingly replied, “It’s Odisha’s festival that is why celebrated.”
“As they (girls) work throughout the year, so they need a bit of relaxation, free time. Perhaps for this reason it is celebrated. In the rural context, it is to be observed before the harvest. I forget the exact almanac name of the day. Something Mithun’s parva or what termed as,” told another smart city girl.
When being queried about the real purpose behind the celebration, another girl replied, “Raja is the biggest festival of Odisha, festival exclusively for the girls. Thus, it is celebrated.”
Same was the reply of yet another girl.
A young woman fumbled saying, “Raja is celebrated for the sake of the girls. What to say more. I won’t say anything further.”
Her companion replied, “Raja is for the girls and it is celebrated for Raja.”
While another city girl stated, “Special is the day for new dresses,” her counterpart mentioned, “It has been a tradition to provide some scope to the girls for which Raja is celebrated.”
“What is special on Raja? Playing on swings, loitering hither and thither and what more? Normally the women and the girls get busy at domestic chores. These three days provide them freedom to enjoy Raja,” yet another smart girl of this numero uno smart city opined.