The Raja festival in Orissa.

Raja Festival (Swing festival) or Mithuna Sankranti is the first day of the month of Asara (June-July) from which the season of rains starts. It inaugurates and welcomes the agricultural year all over Odisha which marks, through biological symbolism, the moistening of the summer parched soil with the first showers of the monsoon, thus making it ready for productivity. To celebrate the advent of monsoon, the joyous festival is arranged for three days by the villagers. Raja is primarily observed for three days. The very first day of this three day long festival is termed as Pahili Raja which is also considered to be the last day of the month Jestha (summers).  The second day is named as Raja Sankaranti; first day of the month Asadha(monsoons). The concluding day is named in local dialect as Bhuin Dahana popularly known as Sesa Raja (last day). However, the festival in some parts of the regions actually ranges for a period of four days with inclusion of the fourth day termed as Basumata Puja or Basumata Gadhua (Bathing & praying of mother earth). It is believed that during the festival of Raja, mother earth undergoes her menstruating state. Hence in order to give rest to the mother earth it is advised to abstain from all kinds of agricultural work along with prohibition on digging of soil or tempering it any possible manner.

Featured image Credit: sandpebblestours. com

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