Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: The three-day Raja Parba, Odisha’s traditional festival celebrating womanhood, kicked off with much fanfare and enthusiasm across the State on occasion of the Pahili Raja today.

Also termed as the festival of harvest, the celebration of Raja, is necessarily meant to give rest to woman and mother earth as a mark of adulation for womanhood and fertility. It is believed, that both of them go through menstrual periods during the time and so festivities are marked to celebrate the occasion.

Decked up in their best attires and donning their choicest jewellery, women and girls of all ages were seen participating in merriment, playing swings and games, relishing ‘pithas’, sweets and indulging in enjoying ‘Meetha Paan’ on ‘Pahili Raja’ today.

In rural areas, where the celebrations are more lively, not only women, but men too, take part in the festivities by enjoying playing cards and the game of Kabaddi with much enthusiasm.

A good number of women turned up at the Pantha Niwas in the capital Bhubaneswar where the authorities put up beautiful swings decorated with marigold flowers and fresh green leaves for the merry makers. Like every year, varieties of traditionally prepared cakes including Poda pitha, kakera, arisa pitha, manda pitha, sweets and Raja Paan have been kept for sale for the people.

“I have come to celebrate the Raja festival here with my one-year-old girl. I visit Pantha Niwas every year on Raja as the arrangements here is nothing less than the traditional Raja celebrations in villages,” said a woman at Pantha Niwas.

Special programmes and puchi competitions were organised on the occasion in many places in the millennium city Cuttack. Special arrangements to celebrate the three-day festival were made at Pantha Niwas at Chandipur sea beach in Balasore district and various parks and community centres in Rourkela.

In Keonjhar, elderly people staying at Anand Ashram at Bonajodi also celebrated Pahili Raja today.

The second day of the festival known as Raja Sankranti or Mithuna Sankranti which will be celebrated tomorrow, and the third day, Bhu Daaha or Basi Raja are also marked with eagerness.

The fourth day, meant for worshipping of mother earth (Bhumi puja) is considered more important for the farming community. The fertile mother is revered on this day for better harvest following which farmers begin ploughing of their fields.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to share his greetings on the occasion of Raja Parba.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Minister Pratap Sarangi and BJP National Vice-President Baijayant Panda also extended their wishes on the occasion.