Raja festival will be celebrated in Odisha from 14 June 2018 (Thursday) onwards. With only a few days to go before the three-day Raja festival begins, women in the state are thronging clothes and accessory stores for last-minute shopping. With Raja being synonymous with swings, girls are also seen crowding around hammock vendors, who are making some quick bucks. The rope and plastic ones are the most popular.
Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) will celebrate ‘Raja Mahotsav’ across the state from June 13-16 at nine of its major outlets by organizing a series of events related to the festival. Singing, merry-making, feasting and display of gymnastic moves and playing games are the most important activities during the three-day festival. It is also customary to prepare a variety of traditional cakes and special delicacies like poda pitha, manda pitha, arisa, kakara, buta-nadia-alu tarkari, chakuli pitha and mansa tarakari, dahi bara, rice payas, malpua and special raja paan, which will be available in the OTDC outlets.
Raja celebrations are not limited to the state. Odias residing outside the state also take part in the celebrations. Raja falls on the first day of the month of Asadha (June-July) from which the rainy season starts.
The first day is called Pahili Raja (prior Raja), second day is Raja Sankranti (proper Raja) and third day is Basi Raja (past Raja). In some places however there is a custom of celebrating the fourth Raja, known as the Basumati Snana.
During the three days women are given a break from household work and time to play indoor games. Unmarried girls decorate themselves with new fashion or traditional Saree and Alatha in feet. All people abstain from walking barefoot on earth. Generally various Pithas are made of which Podopitha and Chakuli Pitha are main.
People play a lot of indoor and outdoor games. Girls play swings tied on tree branches whereas aged ladies play Cards and Ludo. Many villages organise Kabbadi matches among young men.
The Raja song, sung by the girls is:
“Banaste dakila Gaja,
Barasake thare aasichhi Raja,
Asichi Raja lo gheni nua sajabaja.”
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