Raja Parba: Odisha’s festival that celebrates menstruation and womanhood

Bhubneswar: Raja Parba or Mithuna Sankranti is a 3-day festival to honour womanhood which is celebrated across Odisha.

The term Raja is derived from Rajaswala (meaning a menstruating woman) and during the medieval period, the festival became more popular as an agricultural occasion remarking the worship of Bhudevi, who is the wife of Lord Jagannath.

A silver idol of Bhudevi is still found in Puri Temple aside from Lord Jagannatha. In this three-day-long festival, the second day signifies the beginning of the solar month of Mithuna, in which the season of rains starts. 

In this, the sun-dried soil is moistened with the first showers of the monsoon in mid-June marking It arrival of the agricultural year in Odisha with the land preparing itself for productivity.

It is said that the mother earth or the divine wife of  Lord Vishnu undergoes menstruation during the first three days. The fourth day marks Vasumati gadhua or the ceremonial bath of Bhudevi. 

According to Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC), chairperson S Mishra, it is believed that mother nature menstruates and lays the ground for future agricultural activities with the arrival of the monsoon. 

“It is believed that during this period Mother Earth menstruates and prepares herself for future agricultural activities with the arrival of monsoon,” told Mishra to ANI. 

She informed that the festival is synonymous with varieties of cakes (pithas). Considering this, Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) launched a special program called ‘Pitha on Wheels’ on Sunday (June 13).

“Due to COVID-19, we’re celebrating Raja Parba with a very low key. As women don’t work during these 3 days 7 vehicles of ‘Pitha On wheels’ will reach people’s doorstep in Bhubaneswar,” she added.

Varieties of pithas such as ‘Poda Pitha’, ‘Manda’, ‘Kakara’, ‘Arisha’, ‘Chakuli’ and ‘Chandrakala’ have been provided on ‘Pitha on Wheels’ (kiosks on wheels). These outlets to sell traditional cakes have been parked in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Sambalpur, said Mishra.

She informed that in Bhubaneswar, OTDC’s moving kiosks will be available at six places namely Master Canteen Square, Khandagiri Square, CRP Square, Patia Square, Chandrasekharpur Square and Rupali Square. They will remain open from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

During the three days, women are given a break from household work and time to play indoor games. Girls adorn traditional saree and apply alatha on foot. All people abstain from walking barefoot on the earth.

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