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Rashmi Rekha Das

Your wait for fun unlimited is finally over! You can take a swing at one of the hundreds of swings at the Raja festival at Patrapada where fun is literally unlimited. 

Yes, swings are the main fascination of Raja at Patrapada. At a time when girls in urban areas celebrate Raja in social media by posting their filtered pictures, women and unmarried girls in Patrapada enjoy the festival to the fullest with swings. 

Also, they enjoy different kinds of Pithas and sports like puchi, music chair and playing cards.  Raja is not just a festival here, it’s synonymous with fun. With the passage of time, Raja is literally fading away in some parts of Odisha but Patrapada villagers have been celebrating this as a grand carnival since 2011. 

In short, we can say these days we hardly see young girls celebrating the event swinging in dolis, singing melodious Raja ballads in chorus and playing puchi. However, in Patrapada, villagers not only celebrate the festival with pomp and gaiety, they invite people from adjoining villages to be part of the carnival. 

Hundred plus swings are put up every year to keep the swing tradition alive. Raja was not celebrated at Patrapada for last two years due to Covid restrictions. This year, Patrapada is back with a bang to celebrate the festival with all the fanfare. Let’s soak in the celebration by visiting the village. 

How it all began...
Raja is one such Odia festival that has perhaps been worst affected by this cityward movement of people from rural areas. Keeping this in mind, the Maharaja Cricket Association (MCA) has been organising the Raja Carnival at Patrapada since 2011.  

Expressing concern over the reverse trend being taken by the modern generation, a few culture-conscious senior citizens of the locality such as Syamalendu Samantray, Sanatan Mangraj, Diptimayee Kar and Narendra Paikay, Sudhir Patnaik, Bagmi Bidhar and Sushil Champatiray decided to do something to keep the age-old tradition alive. 

According to them, Raja celebration is part of the identity of every Odia, and if the present generation restrains from celebrating it, how will they learn about the rich tradition and cultural heritage of the state. Earlier, the land where swings are installed this year was barren as it is situated in a rocky belt. Senior people had to fetch water from a distance on bullock carts and they made the area plantation worthy. They created a forest by planting Simaroga plants. 
Recollecting those days, President Prabhat Kumar Martha said “In 1980, MCA applied to the district administration for a piece of 14acres of land for the purpose of organising the Raja festival and planting trees. It was registered in 1987 as a reserved playground. 

As many as 30,000 trees were planted on the land and the remaining part of the land is used for games like cricket and social activities. After the trees became big, we started celebrating the Raja festival in the year 2011 by installing 30 swings. As people belonging to adjoining villages were taking lot of interest in Raja and we increased the number of swings to pull in more crowds. 

In 2018, we erected 121 swings; in 2019 the number of swings increased to 175. This year, 112 swings will be erected.”   

Apart from making swings for girls and women, the organisers hang a special swing for Mother Earth. A statue of Mother Earth is installed there and visitors pay obeisance to her before enjoying other events.

Organiser also inaugurated a food plaza for food enthusiasts apart from a Mina Bazaar for providing visitors entertainment. 

Every year a team of MCA members is engaged to monitor the installation of swings to prevent occurrence mishaps during the celebration. All they want is to revive the age-old festival and bring the lost charm back.  

Babool Das, who is pursuing post graduation in English, says, “Though I am a boy and belong to Chandrasekharpur, I make sure to be part of the Patrapada Raja celebration every year. I relive my childhood memories when I attend Raja celebration at Patrapada.”
Subhadra, a banker, says, “Being a resident of Patrapada I never miss the Raja celebration here even though I have shifted out of Patrapada after marriage.  At present it would be rare to see people celebrating Raja in a big way. Most girls of our age don’t even know its significance. However, youngsters of our village are exceptional. With the help of MCA, they give their best to revive the tradition and celebrate the festival like in the earlier days.”

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