Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Raja" or "Raza" : The festival of Mother Earth and Women in Odisha

RadhaKrishna in Raza Doli
“Banaste Dakila Gaja, Baraske Thare Aasichi Raza, Gheni Nua Sajabaaja...”

This is the favorite slogan song of ‘Raja’ by which girls makes fun during this auspicious celebration.

'Raja' is the most popular festival of Eastern Odisha. It is dedicated to Mother Earth and women. The three day celebration of Raja Mahotsava is to welcome the monsoon. Women, including young virgins celebrate and enjoy it with some restrictions and abundant means of fun.

The philosophy of this festival is - Both Earth and Women are creators or mothers. Earth produces grains, fruits and other direct or indirect source of foods without which no living creature can sustain; Women give birth to babies and continue the generation. Both of them are auspicious, highly respectable and unavoidable to lead the concept of life.

Raja, in this context is the celebration to exhibit homage to both of this amazing creation without whose contribution, the idea of life is not possible.

The first day of the Hindu month 'Asada'is known as Raja Sankranti. It is also called 'Swing festival' as man-made swing is the most important feature of Raja Celebration. The swings are of different varieties, such as 'Ram Doli', 'Charki Doli', 'Pata Doli', 'Dandi Doli', Baunsa doli, jhula doli, Agi doli etc.

Early in the morning on the Pahili Raja day girls take complete pious bathe anointing turmeric on the whole body, as per the prevailing custom. However, they are restricted to take bathe in the coming two days. This is the time for them to look as beautiful as possible. They are also prohibited not to scratch the earth, not to move with bare feet and also not to cut or tear anything apart.

'Podha-Pitha' or burnt cake is the dominating recipe during Raja. It is a typical Odiya dish prepared out of rice-powder, molasses, coconut, camphor, ghee among other ingredients.

'Raja-Paana' is also gaining popularity as a mouth freshener recipe, these days.Raja, the age-old festival of Odisha is celebrated as if to respect the yearly menstrual period of Mother Earth. Unlike human beings, Earth is also provided with complete rest during these three days (not ploughed) so as to allow her to prepare herself the best, to provide maximum agricultural returns throughout the year. As per Odiya custom ladies are not allowed to cook and privileged to take rest during menstrual period. 

Odisha is not a rich state in comparison to others. But it is highly gifted with natural resources. Due to the simplicity of the people Mother Nature has given a lion’s share of natural wealth to the state. The people are also highly inspired by spiritual thoughts and love to convey their gratitude to the provider.

Small Girl enjoying Raja Swing

In 2011, the date of Pahili Raja is June 14. 15th June will be celebrated as Raja Sankranti. It is more pious in this year as a lunar eclipse (Chandra Grahana) is also taking place on this day.

Hence We on behalf of Jay Mata Di Group appeal all the devotional people to take benefit of the auspicious Raja Sankranti.

Wish you all a happy ‘Raja’.

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