Odisha celebrates women, Mother Earth, menstruation in 3-day Raja Praba festival
Women and girls are celebrated and all agricultural activity is stopped to let nature rejuvenate.
A three- day festival 'Raja Parba', which celebrates the onset of monsoons and earth's womanhood commenced across Odisha on Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended greeting to people of Odisha. "Raja Parba is an auspicious occasion, which furthers brotherhood and happiness in our society. Greetings to the people of Odisha on this festival. May everyone be happy, healthy and may all aspirations be fulfilled," Modi tweeted.
The festival, which started as a tribal practice is based on the belief that Mother Earth menstruates for those three days and she is given a ceremonial bath on the fourth day.
As part of the celebrations, girls wear new dresses, enjoy the 'Doli Jhula and savour traditional delicacies with some notable dishes being 'Podo Pitha', 'Manda Pitha' and 'Arisha Pitha'.
Arpita, who arrived from Mumbai to participate in the festival said, "It is a typical Odia festival for girls, and women. To celebrate, we wear new clothes, go around with friends, swing on the 'raja doli' and eat the 'raja pan."
She added, "It's a festival dedicated to Mother Earth. Although cyclone Fani caused a lot of devastation, cities have still managed to celebrate with the same spirit but I really feel bad about the underprivileged."
This festivity is also special for girls because they get to enjoy the days being free and away from household work. "During this three-day fest, no girl does any household work. We celebrate the three days wearing new clothes, relishing our special dishes," Archita Patra, a local added.
Aditi Singh, a little girl of about 10 who dressed up in traditonal attire said, "I'll go out with my friends, eat pitha and mitha pan too."
As long as the festival goes on, no agricultural activity like ploughing or sowing takes place for it is believed that Mother Earth goes through rejuvenation during these three days.
The first, second and third day of Raja Parba are called 'Pahili Rajo, 'Mithuna Sankranti', and Bhu Daaha' or 'Basi Raja', respectively.
The fourth day which marks the ceremonial bath is called 'Vasumati Snana.' Conducted around mid-June every year, men also participate in this festival with full fervour.
After the widespread destruction caused by Cyclone Fani and Odisha, the people of Odisha are gearing up to celebrate this traditional festival. People use bamboo plant and wood sticks to hang "Doli Jhula".
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