Vikash Sharma

It is that part of the year when the aroma of delicious pithas fills the air. It is time for the people of Odisha to dip into three-day festivities as part of the 'Raja' or the Raja parba, the festival that honours womanhood and Mother Earth.

After indulging in Sajabaja or the preparations yesterday, the festival started on Friday with people celebrating the Pahili Raja (first day), which marks the beginning of the grand festival with much enthusiasm.

On this particular day, the girls wear new clothes and enjoy the 'Doli Khela' or the decorated swings with their friends and family members. It is also time for the people to relish several Odia cuisines including the popular 'poda pitha'. 

President Droupadi Murmu extended her wishes to the people on the occasion of Raja.

In a tweet, President Droupadi Murmu wrote, "The people of Odisha celebrate the Raja by showing their respect to soil, rain and by including in playing swings, relishing pithas and paan. On the occasion of this agricultural festival, I wish happiness, peace and prosperity to the people of the state and country."

Odisha Chief Minister Mohan Majhi also extended his wishes to the people on the Raja parba.

"May this festival which highlights Odia tradition and culture bring happiness to the lives of people," tweeted Majhi.

Special events are being organised across Odisha on the occasion of Pahili Raja.

In Cuttack, people are thronging various shops selling meetha paans. It is said that the Raja parba is incomplete without a paan. The traders have also come up with new ideas to attract customers.

A shop in the city is offering paan with 64 types of masalas. Apart from this, special 'fire paan' is drawing crowds to the stall at College square.

"I have been preparing Raja special paan for the last 15 years. This time I am using 64 varieties of masala and the cost of paan is between Rs 30 to Rs 70," said the trader.

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