Raja – The festival of the swing
Raja (pronounced as rawjaw) celebrated at the onset of the rainy season is an important festival with a strong social message. The festival is associated with the farmers as the onset of the rains moistens the parched soil making it ready for sowing.
Raja Parba (festival) is also one of the few festivals in the country which celebrates menstruation and conveys the message of empowerment against the societal taboos.
The festival spans three days. The first day is called Pahili Raja (first day), second is Raja and third is Basi Raja (the day after Raja). It is believed that the first drop of rain on the parched soil signifies that Mother Earth undergoes menstruation and all agricultural activities are stopped for three days. On the fourth day, Mother Earth is worshipped, what is locally called as “Basumati Puja”. Just like the Mother Earth, girls of the household are also discouraged from doing household work during the festival.
The entire duration is marked by a festive atmosphere where communities and families come together.
Swings are an integral part of Raja. The swings may be of different varieties, such as 'Ram Doli', 'CharkiDoli', 'PataDoli', 'DandiDoli'etc and crop up in every nook and corner of the street. In some places, swinging competition is held between girls of various villages. The vibrancy of the festival is palpable in almost every Odisha village and city .The festival is also associated with the Odia delicacy of "Podapitha" which is prepared in almost all households. Secondly, chewing of specially made Raja Pan (betel leaf) is a part of culture.