Odisha, the home of Lord Jagannath, celebrates 13 festivals in a year (a local adage), which translates to an unending number of festivals throughout the year. One of the most prominent festivals is Raja Parba, which takes place in the middle of June and lasts three days, starting on the 14th and ending on the 16th.
The state is in a state of festivity and celebration throughout this time.
The sweltering rays of Summer in April and May are soothed by the arrival of the South-West Monsoon in the first week of June, which brings soft rains. The blue sky of summer has become gloomy and white, with patches of rain-bearing cloud moving here and there. Raja Parba is commemorated on this day of pleasant weather, reprieve from the heat, and new optimism for the coming agricultural season. As a result, it is a very important celebration for individuals who rely on agriculture for their living.
Furthermore, the word Raja in Odia means menstruation, and it is believed that around this time, Mother Earth goes through a three-day menstrual cycle. As a result, no operations such as tilling, construction, or anything else that harms Mother Earth are carried out on this occasion.
These three days of the earth’s menstrual cycle come to a conclusion on the fourth day with Basumati Gaadhua, which literally means “mother Earth’s bathing.” People honour Mother Earth on this eve by bathing replicas of her in stone and praying for a fruitful agricultural year in the days ahead.
This tradition of honouring Mother Earth’s menstrual cycle through the Raja festival acknowledges the fact that there was no taboo in the past regarding women’s menstruation. It was accepted as normal in a society where women are now segregated during their periods and are not permitted to enter temples because they are considered impure.
Raja festival is crucial for many because of its connection to the agricultural elite, but it is also celebrated for pleasure and merriment by the general public. On the other side, we overlook the festival’s bigger message of women’s freedom. It accepts women as they are made by nature, therefore relieving her of a societal burden. This is a message to society.
This event is not celebrated in many regions of the country, with the exception of Odisha, and it is even unknown to many. However, in a world where women’s rights are desired, women’s menstrual hygiene is a critical issue, with 23 million girls in India falling out of school as a result, this festival should serve as a wake-up call for many. The celebration of this Raja festival, in addition to all other awareness activities, will improve women’s menstrual hygiene and help liberate more and more women from societal taboos.
The appreciation of nature’s support to human life, as well as humans’ responsibility for maintaining nature’s good health, is a last essential part of this Raja celebration. This reciprocal relationship is critical for promoting sustainable growth while also protecting the environment.
During the Raja festival, not harming Mother Earth for three days complies with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals for environmental protection through climate action, and women’s liberation and menstrual hygiene complies with the UN’s sustainable development goal of gender justice for women.
This emphasises the fact that modern civilization’s festivals have a bigger practical and philosophical dimension, which is frequently required for a sustainable world and an egalitarian society. Raja Festival is an example of this.