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.