Rajja: A unique festival of odisha

Odisha is a state that is known for its ancient and rich culture.And as it is an ancient place, it’s got to have many traditions. Thankfully, odias have preserved them all.  There are variety of festivals that are celebrated throughout the year in our state. There is a popular saying in our state  “Bara masa re tera parba”- we have 13 festivals in 12 months.So, today I am going to describe about one of those thirteen festivals. The festival is Rajja.Rajja is also the most popular festival of  those  thirteen in our state. 

Rajja is celebrated in the month of June and  everytime it falls  around  mid June. This time, in the year 2017, it fell on  14th of June.It continued till 16th of june .It is celebrated for three days and during these days, no one does any work.Women don’t do any domestic or outdoor work. Men also do not do anything.They are supposed to enjoy themselves and have fun. No work is done and those three days are only for merriment. It is basically the festival of unmarried girls.They get to enjoy to the utmost. Girls are given all the importance, this is our(women folk’s) festival. The day before the first day of rajja is known as Sajja Baja. On this day, the preparation for the rajja days are made. Everyone is very excited about the upcoming event and this excitement adds to the happiness of the festival. The first day of Rajja is known as Pahili  rajja or the first day of raja , the second day is known as majhi rajja or the middle day and the last day is known as Basi rajja or the end day. During these three days, girls wear new clothes(minimum 3 for 3 days), dress themselves beautifully,play on swings,play traditional rajja games , go out and have fun, eat variety of  odia delicacies, have the special rajja  pana (betel leaf) and do anything and everything that brings merriment.

Girls play on beautifully  decorated swings to mark the occasion. Decorated swings are symbolic of the joy that this festival brings.

Traditional odia food items are prepared. The most popular being various  Pithas(Odia cakes), which are basically prepared from rice flour. My personal favourite pitha is poda pitha and karanji pitha.

Poda pitha

Karanji pitha

The earth is considered to be the mother. Thus, according to the popular belief, as women menstruate, which is a sign of fertility, so does mother earth. So  these three days of Rajja are considered to be the menstruating period of mother earth. And hence, all the agricultural activities remain suspended for these three days. No work is done on agricultural fields or on earth, thus not disturbing mother earth in any way. She is given rest.After this she’ll be ready for productivity.

Rajja welcomes the rainy season. So everyone celebrates,  as with the onset of rainy season , the earth is ready for production and people also get respite from the scorching heat, thus they welcome  the season with great pomp and show.Typically, after this festival, the rainy season hits our state.Thus, making the earth ready for productivity.So, the weather during Rajja remains clouded. Infact, clouded weather is always called as Rajja  paga ( rajja weather) in our state.

Rajja pana

In this festival, men are not left behind. Traditionally they play games like kabbadi, cards and dicing. Everyone enjoys and celebrates. It’s a gala time for every odia.

So, overall, it’s a festival that is filled with only enjoyment. I don’t know how else should I be describing it.  The fact that I love about this festival is there is no puja. Unlike other Hindu festivals and traditions, in this festival, no deity or god is worshipped. The 3 days are only for enjoynment.  Thus it’s the most popular festival in our state.

Rajja ended on 16th June, and I still miss those three days so much. It was very special for me this time. I will never forget it. I just hope next year, rajja comes again with the same aura, as it did this year. I miss it so much, that I thought of writing about it.

Also, today is another very special festival, which is celebrated the  world over. Today is Lord Jagannath’s Ratha Jatra. I will write about our beloved Lord, in a separate section very soon, describing about the great stories and beliefs associated with Lord Jagannath and the 12th century shrine. Till then, Happy Ratha Jatra everyone! 

©2017Ananya Dash All rights reserved.

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Rainy days

Looking  at the overcast sky,

My heart dances with  joy.

The soft drizzle sprinkled on my face, 

Spreads its freshness everywhere.

So serene, so beautiful is this feeling! 

The smell of the wet soil!

Well,can words describe it? 

 The aroma gives a new meaning to everything.

World feels alive.

The rain  water gives a new lease of life.

Everything is brighter, everything cleaner. 

Celebrate everyone! 

It’s the arrival of rainy days! 

©2017 Ananya Dash All rights reserved.