Raja: A Tribute to Mother Earth's Menstrual Cycle

Odisha is a place where vibrant culture is followed with wonderful temples as well as amazing monuments. The coastal state is home to many prolific singers, artists and craftsmen and boasts of pristine beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, breath-taking landscape and enchanting natural beauty. Odisha is located on the eastern coast of India and lies between West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Tourists usually found this state as a place with offers diverse habitats- from lush green and hilly land to coastal plains and rolling river valleys of the Mahanadi, Baitarani, Brahmani and the Rushikulya rivers. Odisha is like an paradise which is till now not explored fully for tourists and travelers who come from all over the sphere to get a glimpse of Odisha’s rich culture and heritage. Being said so the heritage and rich culture of Odisha needs a little more limelight. Odisha has been breaking the taboo about menstruations and celebrating a festival dedicated to menstruations since ages. Its gives a tribute to Earth’s menstrual cycle.

Odisha is a state where womanhood is celebrated in a very unique and special way. A festival that is associated with the fertility of harvest of a woman. The festival Raja is being talked here and the name of the festival itself means menstruation .The term ‘Raja’ came from the Sanskrit word ‘Rajaswala’ meaning a menstruating woman. Raja celebrates a girl’s onset of womanhood as well as arrival of maturity in the form of menstruation. Raja Sankranti or Mithuna Sankranti is a three day long festival celebrated in Odisha. The second day of the celebration indicates the start of the solar month of Mithuna which starts as the rain starts. A notion is followed that the mother Goddess Earth or the divine wife of Lord Vishnu is undergoing with menstruation which will go for three day rest. The fourth day is called the Vasumati snana or the ceremonial bath of the Bhudevi.  In the medieval times this festival became more popular as an agricultural holiday marking the worship of Bhudevi, who is the wife of Lord Jagannath. A silver idol of Bhudevi is still to be found in the Puri temple beside the idle of Lord Jagannath. It is believed that land goes through regeneration during this period, an act synonymous to menstrual cycle of an unmarried girl or woman, which should not be ‘disturbed’. In the festival all the women and unmarried girls of the place are encouraged to look at their best way by wear new cloths and decorate them with alatha. Almost every other household adorns a swing, for the recreation of women and girls to be enjoyed during the festival. 
A general belief is that if a woman menstruates it is a sign of fertility, and same goes in case of mother earth too i.e., menstruates. So all three days are considered to be menstruating period of mother earth. During the menstruating period all the agricultural activities remains suspended. As a mark of respect towards the mother earth on her menstruating days all the agricultural work comes to a standstill during these days. Significantly this is the festival of the unmarried girls, the potential mothers. They all observe the restrictions prescribed for menstruating women. As the very first day begins they make their hairs; they rub their bodies with turmeric paste and oil and then take the bath which is considered as the pure one in the river or tank. Peculiarly bathing for next two days is prohibited. They do not walk bare foot, do not scratch the earth, do not grind, do not tear anything apart, do not cut and do not cook. During all three days they are seen in their best dresses and decorations, eating cake and the rich food at the house of relatives and friends, spending long cherry periods, moving up as well as down and swinging, rending the village sky with their joyous spontaneous songs. With breaking all the taboo of menstruations Odisha pays a tribute to our mother earth’s menstrual cycle.

Post a Comment