Raja, a vibrant festival celebrated in parts of India, holds immense significance for women, highlighting their empowerment and fostering a sense of community care. During these three joyous days, women revel in their femininity, adorning themselves in traditional attire and engaging in various activities, while men take up domestic responsibilities. Read on to explore the cultural importance of Raja, its historical roots in nurturing women’s well-being, and the shared enjoyment experienced by both women and men.
Fun Time for Women
Abstaining from all sorts of domestic chores and physical labour, women deck themselves up in the most adorable manner during these three days. Adorned with new clothes, traditional attires, and alata, they cheerfully indulge in fun and merriment. From playing on swings to engaging in different games to savouring mouth-watering delicacies, Raja is indeed the best time for girls.
Raja is a perfect occasion for get-togethers. “On the first day of Raja, women and girls get up before dawn, anoint their bodies with turmeric paste and oil, then take the purification bath in the nearby river or tank. They get ready with their new attire along with tikili, alata, kajal and vermilion. Special varieties of cakes like podo pitha are prepared from rice powder, molasses, coconut, camphor and ghee. Cakes and other Odia delicacies are also exchanged among relatives and friends. Young girls and women do not eat rice at night. All domestic duties are attended to by the men. Complete rest is given to women and girls as they keep themselves busy in hard routine work throughout the year,” informed Savitri Daloi, a homemaker.
Though women’s complete freedom is confined to only three days during Raja, it still makes humanity remember the importance of fair sex in society. So Raja can be termed as a true manifestation of woman empowerment.
Such was the importance of fertility that some of the ancient world’s greatest minds and scholars were commissioned to find ways and means to ensure that a woman was taken proper care of both mentally and physically and not just by the family but by the community as a whole. In ancient India, the festivals went by the name Ritushuddhi and Rajaswala. While the former marked the joyous occasion of a woman coming of age, the latter was this grand ritual which ensured that girls/women received the kind of love and care needed when their periods were on cycle.
These ancient practices were not only effective in aiding women during the time but also in helping generations understand the significance of fertility. This is the basis and essence of Raja.
Men folk too have their share of fun
Raja is not only an all-girls affair, the festivity is also so gripping that it gets all the men folk residing in different parts of the state and the country to go back to their villages. Getting laid back, enjoying lip-smacking cuisines, playing cards with village buddies to indulging in nostalgia games like kabaddi, ludo and others, the men get to enjoy a break from their busy work schedule during the festival.
While girls spread beauty, grace and cheerfulness all around, moving up and down on the swings, young men give themselves up to fun-filled games and delicious food. Since all agricultural activities are suspended as Mother Earth takes a rest, the men in the villages engage themselves in various types of country games – the most favourite being Kabaddi. Competitions are also held between different groups of villages. ‘Jatra’ performances or ‘Gotipua’ dances are also arranged in some villages at night.
13-year-old Abhisahek who is a student of Loyola School confesses that he loves the festival more than his sisters do. “Since we live in the city, I don’t usually get time for outdoor games. During Raja, I mingle with my friends in the village and we play all day long. From kabaddi to tag, we are nonstop. I remember Raja as a great time to do everything to my heart’s content. Sure enough, it also reminds me that my sisters are not mere girls but strong ladies who give life,” he reminisced about his Raja days pre-pandemic.
Raja encapsulates the essence of womanhood, emphasizing the crucial role women play in society while providing them with a well-deserved break from daily chores. This festival not only serves as a reminder of the significance of fertility but also promotes inclusivity by engaging men in the celebrations. As people gather, exchange delicacies, and participate in games and cultural performances, Raja stands as a testament to the unity, happiness, and appreciation of diverse roles within the community.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?