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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Banaste Dakila Gaja.... it’s once again that time of the year when Odia women come together to celebrate Raja- the three day extravaganza with pithas, paans and swings
Decked up in their best attires and donning their choicest jewellery, women of all ages were today seen all geared up to make the best out of their "Pahili Raja."

All the girls in our Whats app group have agreed to meet at a particular place. We plan to go visiting all prominent places where celebrations are being held. I am in mood to have a mouthful of all my favourite traditional pithas and swing to my hearts content. At noon, we have thought about watching a good movie. I hope everything goes as per plans and weather doesn't play a spoil sport

---Latika Mahapatra, an 18 year old.

A good number of women turned up at the Panthanivas where the authorities had put up beautiful swings decorated with marigold flowers and fresh green leaves for the revellers.
"I live in an apartment and it's after years that I got to swing here. My raja celebrations have just begun. I will be visiting my cousin sisters and taste some homemade delicacies prepared by them," said Rajani Khuntia.

A beeline of people was seen outside outlets selling traditional pithas and paans. "I have been here since morning and waiting for my turn. I am afraid if the stocks run out before my turn

---said Ganeshwar Das, a local

"I have come to buy pithas for our office. Although it's a working day for us, we will be celebrating it," said Sujata Mishra, another youth.

On the other hand, specials arrangements have been made in Twin City-Cuttack and Bhubaneswar for the festival with various shopping malls, designer stores and other commercial establishments offering heavy discounts to woo women.

Some malls even mounted swings to attract their customers. Special stalls selling Raja pithas were also spotted in a few malls. A good number of cultural programmes are lined up throughout the day to mark the festival.

As per tradition, the unmarried girls and women give up household chores and engage themselves in fun activities like- playing luddo, cards, puchi , eating special paan and mouth-watering pithas, donning alatas on their feet visiting friends and relatives houses.

Notably, the first day of the festival is called Pahili Raja, the second day is Mithuna Sankranti, and the third is Bhu Daaha or Basi Raja and the fourth day is called Vasumati Snana, the day of the ceremonial bath. It is a day to celebrate the menstruation of mother earth while symbolising fertility and onset of womanhood.

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