Menstruation is a topic that faces way too many taboos in the Indian society. From believing that menstrual blood is impure to preventing menstruating women from entering temples, Indian girls grow up hearing countless negative ideas about menstruation. The festival raja parba in Odia is a welcoming revelation in this situation of false beliefs and taboos.
Odisha observes the festival of Raja Parba for combating the prejudices which surround menstrual cycle and celebrating the womanhood. This festival that spans four days in June calls out for women and girls to come together for acknowledging the gifts of Mother Earth (‘Bhudevi,’ as she is called in Odisha). This time, the raja festival in Odisha 2019 began on 15th June. So, here’s a brief account of this unique and wonderful festival.
Reasons to celebrate raja parba in Odia
The native pronunciation for the festival is ‘raw-jaw,’ which translates to menstruation. The word ‘Raja’ comes from the word ‘Rajaswala’ that is term used to refer to menstruating women. According to religious beliefs, it is held that for the three days in the beginning of the festival Mother Earth or Bhudevi, who is also the wife of Jagannath, has her menstruation cycle.
During these three days, absolutely no agricultural activities, such as sowing or digging, are carried out by the people of the state because they believe Mother Earth is going through her phase of rejuvenation and she needs the rest. After this cycle of rejuvenation, Bhudevi is believed to be bountiful and giving once again.
The rituals of the ceremony
All the three days of the raja festival in Odisha 2019 have their own name. So, it starts from Pahili Rajo, which is the first day; Mithuna Sankranti, which is the second day, and Basi Raja or Bhu Daaha, which is the third day. It is important to mention that the second day of raja parba in Odia also marks the start of Mithuna, the solar month and also the rainy season.
Finally, comes the ritual of the ceremonial bath that is carried out on the fourth day of raja festival 2019, which is known as Vasumati Snana. Even young girls and women are not supposed to engage in cooking and other such work during raja parba 2019.
The way people celebrate the occasion
The festival of raja parba in Odia is celebrated with a lot of pomp and merriment. Girls tie swings on the branches of the tree and play around it. Young men engage themselves in card games, ludo, kabaddi, and the likes. There is a general sense of happiness and holiday fervor all around. The raja festival 2019 has, in fact, also gained quite the popularity on social media with people uploading tweets and sharing pictures all over the internet. This popularity of the festival is good thing as far as uplifting the taboos surrounding menstruation is concerned.
The festival had started as a practice of the tribes of the State, but the sights and scenes of raja parba 2019 suggest that it is now celebrated all over Odisha. The festival has seen quite a few changes in the customs and rituals, as it became so widely accepted in the State. However, the thing that remains constant is the idea that it revolves around regarding celebrating and respecting womanhood. Hence, it is really heartening to see that in the country where women tend to be shunned from social life during menstruation, Odisha delivers the right message.