RAJA FESTIVAL: celebration of a girl's onset of womanhood

Anisha Mohanta
Posted August 8, 2019 from India

Unlike many parts of India where menstruating women are considered as impure, my state Odisha stands out. Raja Parba (pronounced as raw-jaw) is a festival of Odisha that celebrates menstruation. Raja comes from a word "Rajaswala" which means menstruating women.

This festival falls in mid June every year and lasts for three days. First day is called Pahili Raja, second day is Mithuna Sankranti, and third day is Basi Raja. Each day has it's own significance. It is believed that as women menstruate, mother Earth also menstruate during these three days.

As the land goes through rejuvenation during this period, all the agricultural activities are suspended for three days. Women and girls take a break from household work and instead play games, spend time on swings (which are especially made and decorated for them), eat delicious food and celebrate. They are encouraged to look their best by wearing new dresses and decorate themselves with jewellery, henna and alta. Young men keep themselves busy by participating in various country games and competitions.

The most vivid and enjoyable memory of Raja is the rope swings on Banyan trees, games and lyrical folk songs. Long time ago, this festival was a tribal practice, and now it is celebrated in all parts Odisha. It changed a lot over time but still revolves around respecting and celebrating menstruation.

*All images are from Google.

Comments 10

Log in or register to post comments

Hello, Anisha,

Wow, thank you for sharing about the Raja Parba festival! I wouldn't know until you did. This is really a great way to celebrate girls who enter womanhood. I hope this kind of respect for menstruating girls will be copied by the rest of the cultures of this world. If we really reflect on it, we should all be celebrated.

Beautiful photos, by the way!

Anisha Mohanta
Aug 08
Aug 08

Thank you for your kind words.

You’re welcome, dear!

Jill Langhus
Aug 08
Aug 08

Hi Anisha,

I agree with Karen. I didn't know about this festival, either. Thanks so much for sharing the lovely, colorful photos and synopsis.

Hope you're doing well and having a great week:-)

Anisha Mohanta
Aug 08
Aug 08

Hi ma'am,
Thank you for your kind words. Yes I am doing well. Hope you are having a great week too.

Jill Langhus
Aug 09
Aug 09

You're very welcome:-)

Great to hear! Yes, thank you:-)

XX

Adriana Greenblatt
Aug 11
Aug 11

Yay thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures Anisha, such a reminder to me about how taboo menstruation is still for so many, and the sharing just brings down the walls! Also the pictures really show this act of celebration and renewal!

Hugs from Montreal,
Adriana

Anisha Mohanta
Aug 12
Aug 12

thank you for your kind words.

Satyawathi Yadav
Aug 17
Aug 17

Wow, a beautiful act of celebration indeed.

Thank you for sharing. After reading this, I got reminded of how a friend's mother in Bombay was treated in her own home just because she was having her period. Even the pet dog got better treatment.

Anisha Mohanta
Aug 18
Aug 18

Many people till now don't know how a woman should be treated on her periods.

Related Stories