Raja Parba is a three day festival in Odisha which celebrates menstruation and womanhood. It is believed that Mother Earth goes through a menstrual cycle for three days and is given a ritualistic bath on the fourth day. Odisha stands out in this feature as most women folk participate in this festival and in a country that shuns menstruation, it is like respect given to women The first day of the ceremony is called Pahili Raja. Pahili Raja festival in Odisha 2021 will fall 14 June. Find out more about the festival below :
Origin, History, and Significance of Pahili Raja
Raja Parba, the three-day festival celebrates the beginning of monsoons and also the womanhood of Earth. It reinforces that Mother Earth is a giver like women. Raja Sankranti or Mithuna Sankranti is the first day of the Ashada month in the Hindu calendar. Pahili Raja is celebrated on the day before Sankranti, day of Sankranti and the day after known as Bhu Daha or Basi Raja.
The word Raja said as “Raw-Jaw” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Rajswala” which means a menstruating woman. These three days of Pahili Raja festival are considered to be when Boomadevi is menstruation. The fourth day is called “Basumati Snana” or the day when Earth is given the “purification bath”. The second day of the festival also marks the beginning of the solar month of Mithuna, which signifies the onset of the rains.
What started as a tribal practice has now spread to all parts of Odisha. The festival celebrations have evolved but continue to revolve around celebrating womanhood and respecting her status in the world. In a nutshell, the festival signifies a deeper context. It signifies how fertility, menstruation and womanhood which are still heralded as taboo in the Indian sub-continent must be celebrated and should be a cause of pride.
When is Pahili Raja Celebrated
Raja Parbo is generally celebrated in the month of June. Pahili Raja date is always the first day of the three-day festival. The festival is celebrated to respect Bhudevi who is considered to be the wife of Lord Jagannath, and an idol of Bhudevi can be found in Puri Jaganath temple.
How is Pahili Raja Celebrated and Where to Go
As a mark of respect to Mother Earth, as she is menstruating, all agricultural works like ploughing and sowing are stopped for three days. The main intention is that Mother Earth should not be hurt and also should be given rest.
As the festival celebrates women, all women wear new clothes, apply “Alata” ( red paste similar to henna) on their feet and sing folk songs whilst swinging on rope swings that are ornately decorated. For three days, women folk also do not do any household chores and just play games and celebrate. They run, dance and prance around in careless oblivion singing songs of love, affection and respect. Men also take part in this festival by playing games, especially, Kabadi. Competitions are held between villages with performances like “Jatra” or “Gotipua” are performed by professional troupes. Several amateurs also arrange dramas, plays and other forms of entertainment.
The Raja Doli or the Raja swing is the main attraction of this festival. Rope swings are decorated with flowers, and mango leaves and women and children swing on them all day. Swings are named differently- “Ram Doli”; “Dandi Doli”; “Pata Doli” and “Charki Doli”. Swings are decorated in all public places, city parks, gardens and orchards where people enjoy.
As like in any Indian festival, Poda Pitha is a sweet offering made from rice, urad dal, coconut and raisins are offered to the Lord. Poda Pitha is a form of burnt cake which is made by wrapping the batter in banana leaves and roasting them over an earthen oven. This is a unique delicacy in Odisha and considered to be a favourite of Lord Jagannath. Another favourite part of the festival is the sweet pan which is never to be missed.
Where to Go:
Now that you know what the festival is all about, here is where you could visit to be a part of the festival:
- Bhubaneshwar, Odisha: The capital city of Odisha is a wonderful sight during this time of the year.
- Puri, Odisha: Since Puri is famous for the temple of Lord Jagannath, Raja Parbo is celebrated with a lot of gusto.
If you wish to be a part of the Pahili Raja festivities, then you must travel to Odisha or any of its villages to celebrate this occasion. redBus can take you to your preferred destination at the click of a button. redBus now makes booking a bus ticket online a very simple and easy process. Download the redBus app or log on to their website to book your tickets to your choice of destination to participate in the festivities of this unique festival.
NOTE: We at redBus, urge you to take all the necessary precaution when you travel and follow instructions issued by the local authority in light of the recent pandemic-COVID19. If you do not wish to travel, it is recommended to stay home and practice social distancing.