Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

'Raja' is a vibrant three-day long popular festival celebrated across Odisha to honour womanhood and embrace the beauty of nature. 

This festival holds deep mythological beliefs and significance and is marked by joyous celebrations, traditional rituals, and mouth-watering delicacies.

Significance of 'Sajabaja'

While the State will celebrate the three-day long festival from Friday, the day before the Raja festival starts is known as 'Sajabaja'. The special day, which is a grand prelude to Raja, is actually the preparatory day for this three-day-long grand Odia festival. 

On this day, women, especially young unmarried girls, get ready for this joyous occasion by taking turmeric bath, putting 'alta' on their feet and indulging in every other 'shringar' they love to do. 

Apart from it, all the mixing, grinding or powdering for cooking purposes are done on this day as it's prohibited to do all these during the festival.

"Despite having a super busy schedule these days and the tradition taking a back seat amid modernity, we at home are trying to rejoice Raja festival in a grand way this year. We have already started all the preparations for the grand festival on 'Sajabaja'," said Poonam Mishra from Cuttack.

Significance of Each Day of Raja Festival

The famous festival unfolds over three days, each carrying its unique essence. The first day, known as ‘Pahili Raja’, marks the end of 'Jestha' (Summer) and welcomes the festival with open arms. 

The second day, known as ‘Raja Sankranti,’ signifies the arrival of 'Asadha', the much-awaited rainy season, bringing hope and rejuvenation to the land. 

Finally, the third day, known as ‘Sesa Raja’ or ‘Bhuin Dahana,’ is a time of bidding farewell to the festival while expressing gratitude to Mother Earth for its bounty.

How is Raja Celebrated?

During the Raja festival, girls don new clothes and indulge in delectable cuisines including a special Odia cake 'poda pitha' prepared at home. 

One of the most delightful traditions is the ‘doli khela’. Beautifully decorated swings are prepared using ropes in trees. Girls joyfully sway on them while breaking into impromptu singing and dancing. This celebration creates an atmosphere of joy, laughter, and togetherness.

One of the highlights of the Raja festival is traditional paan. It is a betel leaf preparation adorned with a delightful assortment of flavours. Raja is a time of celebration to savour this special treat, symbolizing the sweetness and joy of the festival.

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