Known for its communal harmony and quintessential 'Bhaichara', the millennium city of Cuttack usually gets abuzz with activities during this period of the year for the grand Raja festival.
Not only Odias, people belonging to other communities too actively pitch in to observe the Raja festival in some way or the other. Be it the elders or the generation next from other communities, Raja is a time to celebrate and wish friends and well-wishers in the city.
Whether it's sharing the various mouth-watering delicacies including Poda Pitha or munching on Bidia Pan, the festival acts as a connecting bond with people from various communities as well.
"I came to Cuttack some 35 years back and since then the city is now an inseparable part of my family. The city and its people have given immense love and it is the special festivals which strengthen our bonds," said Suresh Sharma, originally from Rajasthan who has been living in the millennium City for over 4 decades now.
According to Sharma, the sharing of sweets and pithas by Odia neighbours on Raja as well as other festivals is unique as it makes him part of the larger Odisha family.
Bobby Islam, another resident of Cuttack said, "Raja is a grand festival and we have been celebrating it since ages. The festival is not specific for any religion. People from most communities also take active part."
Islam said that the festival has lost its charm in various cities, but the tradition is still alive in rural heartland. "Due to Covid, the celebrations have taken a backseat. However, I have many Odia friends who always make sure that our family gets various pithas and other dishes," he added.
For Biju Mathews, a resident of Kerala who is now settled in Cuttack, the Raja Parba is also quite special. Biju, who is father to two daughters, makes sure that his children take active part in the festival every year with their friends. "I make sure that my children get all information about the festival. My children love swings as well as various pithas which are shared by their friends as well as neighbours every year. Even my wife has also learnt few Odia cuisines," said Biju.