Raja is a quintessential festival of Odisha celebrated each year during the Odia month of Asadha (2nd week of June). Unique in many aspects, Raja is counted as one of the major agrarian festivals of the state and is celebrated in complete grandiose predominantly in the coastal districts of Odisha. What makes Raja so special is the unique amalgamation of rich tradition along with fun, frolic and mouthwatering cuisines amidst the first showers of monsoon. A festival that in true sense aids to reconnect with one’s family and roots.
Listed below are the seven pointers summing up the most joyous festival, Raja
1. The Festival
Raja is primarily observed for three days. The very first day of this three day long festival is termed as Pahili Raja which is also considered to be the last day of the month Jestha (summers). The second day is named as Raja Sankaranti; first day of the month Asadha(monsoons). The concluding day is named in local dialect as Bhuin Dahana popularly known as Sesa Raja (last day). However, the festival in some parts of the regions actually ranges for a period of four days with inclusion of the fourth day termed as Basumata Puja or Basumata Gadhua (Bathing & praying of mother earth).
2. Legend Associated
It is believed that during the festival of Raja, mother earth undergoes her menstruating state. Hence in order to give rest to the mother earth it is advised to abstain from all kinds of agricultural work along with prohibition on digging of soil or tempering it any possible manner.
Considering this state of mother earth, the women folk particularly the unmarried girls are forbidden from all kinds of regular domestic activities. The list of restriction starts from not carrying out any kitchen activities, sweeping floors, combing of hairs and walking bare foot. Having said this with the advent of time some of these restrictions are seldom followed especially in urban localities.
3. Time of fun for women folks
Abstained from all sorts of domestic work and physical labor, the women community of the state deck themselves up in the most adorable manner during these three days of time. Adorned with new clothes, alta and other traditional attires, they cheerfully indulge in fun and frolic of the festivity. From playing swings, engaging in different games to savoring the mouthwatering delicacies; Raja is indeed the best time for the girls.
4. Men folk too have their share of Fun
Raja is not only all girls’ affair, the festivity of Raja is so gripping that it gets all the men folk residing at different parts of the state and country get back to their village. Getting laid back, enjoying the lip-smacking cuisines, playing cards with village buddies to indulging in nostalgic games like Kabbadi, ludo and others. Who can resist not returning home in such an engrossing festival!
5. Mouthwatering Traditional Delicacies
When we talk of Raja, one thing that instantly comes to our mind is ‘Poda Pitha’. The aroma and taste of the particular pitha is so alluring that it happens to be Lord Jagannath’s favorite and is savored by him each time after having the meal. Other than the poda pitha delicacies like Arisa pitha, Mutton curry and Raja Pana makes it one of the most dearest and special festival in every odia household.
6. Filmy Extravaganza
Raja from the very beginning has been one of the most preferred and sought after festivals for the Ollywood film makers. Infact some of the biggest hits of Odia cinema has happened to be during Raja. Engrossed in the festivity and leisurely mood, people flock in large numbers along with their kith and kin to the nearest theaters. This year too has been no exception, 3 big banner films have released including that of the Superstar Anubhav Mohanty’s ‘Abhaya’
7. A Festival Like No Other
Raja is one of the most unique festivals which has a blend of rich tradition along with fun and frolic. The entire family and village comes together and enjoy the festival with utmost joy. Playing multitude of nostalgic games with your dearest friends, visiting friends’ and relatives houses to savor the tempting traditional cuisine, sitting on the swing relishing the Podapitha and Raja pana and spending amiable time with family amidst the first showers of monsoon makes Raja a festival like no other.
Raja indeed is a unique festival among all the festivals that Odias celebrate. Wishing all of you a very Happy Raja.
Take a look on the below video depicting the beautifully compiled Raja Anthem ‘Banaste asila Raja’ by Radio Choklate team.