Prime Minister greeted Odisha on the auspicious occasion of Raja Sankranti, which got off to a quiet start without the usual enthusiasm due to the COVID-19 crisis.
• Apart from the world-famous RathaYatra, which takes place in June, Odia people also celebrate a unique festival called Raja Sankranti.
• This is a three-day-long festival dedicated to Mother Earth (Bhuma Devi) and womanhood at large.
• The word 'Raja' in Odia means menstruation, and it is derived from Rajaswala, meaning a menstruating woman. Surprisingly, it is a festival that celebrates this aspect of womanhood which makes the feminine entity unique.
• This festival is also associated with the end of the summer season and the arrival of the monsoon. And therefore, it is also associated with agriculture and cultivation related communities and activities.
The festivities begin a day before MithunaSankranti and conclude after two days.
The first day of the festival is called Pahili Raja, the second is MithunaSankranti and the third Bhudaha or Basi Raja.
The preparation begins one day before Pahili Raja, and it is called Sajabaja. Primarily, it is a time for the unmarried girls to prepare for their matrimony.
They follow various customs related to the festival by consuming nutritious food like Podapitha, not walking barefoot, taking a bath on the first day, and merrily swinging on ropes attached to a tree.
During the festival, Odia people do not undertake any construction works or tilling that requires the earth to be dug. And by not doing such activities, they pay ode to the Mother Earth which needs a break from routine work.
The festival concludes with a custom called VasumatiSnana or the bathing of Bhuma Devi. Women worship a stone that symbolises the Mother Earth.