Raja festival is the only festival that celebrates womanhood and menstruation. Menstruation is viewed as a blessing of giving new life. During this festival, women are given due respect and it reminds that menstruation shouldn’t be treated as taboo.
Girls enjoying Raja festival
Even in the 21st century, discrimination against menstruating women is widespread. In most parts of India, a menstruating girl or woman is considered impure. And menstruation is still looked down upon as a taboo and in most households, it is discussed in secrecy.
When it comes to Odisha, here people celebrate this. The occasion is the three-day-long Raja Festival. It is the only festival that celebrates womanhood and menstruation. Menstruation is viewed as a blessing of giving new life. During this festival, women are given due respect and it reminds us that menstruation shouldn’t be treated as taboo.
Raja Festival & The 4 Days
Raja Festival falls in mid-June (ideally June 14) that is at the end of Odia month Asadha. Though it is a three-day-long festival, it actually lasts for four days. The first day of the festival is called ‘Pahili Raja’, the second day is ‘Majhi Raja’ ‘Raja Sankranti’ or ‘Mithuna Sankranti’, the third day is ‘Bhudaha’ or ‘Basi Raja’ or ‘Sesha Raja’. The fourth day is called ‘Basumati Snana’. On this day, ladies give a bath to the grinding stone, considering it as mother earth.
How is Raja Festival Celebrated?
Not for nothing is the festival called ‘Raja’ festival. The word ‘Raja’ comes from Sanskrit word ‘Rajas’, which means menstruation. And the word ‘Rajaswala’ means a menstruating woman. This suggests that the festival is especially for menstruating women.
During the festival, young unmarried girls are refrained from cutting, cooking or doing anything because that might make them tired. They are even not allowed to walk barefoot. They are allowed to take complete rest.
During this festival, there is a tradition that all agricultural activities are suspended. The reason behind this is also linked to menstruation. It is believed that mother earth or Bhudevi is a woman and as women menstruate so is the mother earth.
During this period, before the onset of rains, mother earth is believed to be menstruating. So, during these three days, mother earth is also given a complete rest. This is why all the agricultural activities like digging and tilling of land are cancelled. It is also believed that after Raja festival the earth becomes more fertile.