ବନସ୍ତେ ଡାକିଲା ଗଜ,
ବରଷକେ ଥରେ ଆସିଛି ରଜ,
ଆସିଛି ରଜ ଲୋ
ଘେନି ନୂଆ ସଜବାଜ ॥
Every year in June, usually mid-June, girls all around Odisha revel in the celebration of Rajo-a unique festival marked by 3 days of fun & absolutely no work. It’s a special festival that celebrates the joy of womanhood & which gives respect to Mother Nature. Every festival has some reasons for being there. Rajo serves the dual purpose of letting the hard working people, specially women & girls rest & have fun for 3 days & it also ensures the fields are ready for the on coming monsoon.
It is said that during these 3 days, Mother Nature has her menstruation & must rest. No one should hit the earth with any kind of device, no farming, not even walking barefoot is allowed! To mark their respect, every female shouldn’t bathe or dress up. No cooking is allowed in the house either. Of course that’s followed strictly in villages where the day before Paheli Rajo, every house has women getting busy with their make up & preparing delicious pithas(sweets). Coming to pithas, Podapitha is the favourite during Rajo. Among other delicacies prepared are kheer, manda pitha etc. A special paan called the Rajo paana is also a favourite for both men & women.
As for celebration, there are huge swings put up on trees & adorned with flowers. Girls wear new clothes on all the 3 days & all they do is swing on these huge dolli & sing traditional songs. After Rajo is over on the 4th, everyone bathes on the day of Basumati snaan. The last time I remember spending an authentic Rajo was when I was a kid with my cousins. I’d come to Cuttack from Kolkata during summer, so would my cousin from Bhubaneswar, another from Andhra & then all hell would break lose in my GrandPa’s house. Even the boys would love dressing up & fight with us for a chance on the swing! GrandMom would prepare the choicest pithas & all we’d do is play & eat all day.
Even if we didn’t have new clothes the fun would still last. But now in Bhubaneswar I hardly to get see a single swing hung outdoors, the alta lined feet of girls & the baula in their hair. New clothes are here but no where to go to ….
P.S: All images from Google search