3 Days of Rajo

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.

Rajo Doli

Raja Doliu

Rajao pana

Rajo Paana

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.

Rajo Pitha

Poda Pitha

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

That Last Night

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 26; the 26th Edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The topic for this month is ‘That Last Night’.

She was running..as fast her legs could carry her….running in the wee hours of dawn. And then suddenly she was grabbed from behind. She let out a blood curdling scream, only to wake up drenched in sweat. She looked around, yes she was back in her cell. Wiping off the beads of sweat her mind took her back down the memory lane to that last night of the month of March.

She had always wanted to be a good wife, a caring daughter-in-law & a proud mother of her kids. At 19, when the henna patterns were being made on her hands, she created her own dreams-loving her new family unconditionally & dedicating herself to her husband. It had been just a week of their marriage. Only a few very close relatives were still around in the huge house. It was a joint family as was typical in this part of Afghanistan, with 2 of her brothers-in-law living under the same roof with their families. She was the youngest daughter-in-law & some said the prettiest.

The door creaked open at midnight. She knew it’d be her husband, returning after meeting his friends. The thoughts of their wedding night flashed across & she blushed at the memories. The bed creaked under his weight & suddenly the smell of alcohol filled the room. She got up from the bed & stared at the stranger-“Who are you?””What do you mean who am I? I paid good money to your husband for you…now where do you think you’re going…?!!

She shuddered & blocked out that half an hour of hell she’d experienced. All she remembered was running. Running away from home, away from her in-laws, to the town. She remembered reaching the police station, bruised, out of breath & trying to explain to the officer what happened in between sobs. She remembered being handcuffed… being accused of Zina, daring to run away from home. She remembered the court’s order-12 years in jail.

Now at 25, she sat staring at the walls surrounding her. That last night 6 years ago…may be she should have run towards the lake, she never learnt swimming after all.

Note: The ‘moral values’ expected of a woman seem to be the same everywhere. Although this post is based on a news article I read today about Afghanistan, such practices are prevalent in India as well. Raising awareness is the least I think I could do.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

The Anna Hazare Fast and the Common Man

I do not watch TV, that’s my excuse for not writing about this sooner. When I first heard about Anna Hazare it was in Twitter. There were many well-known writers and actors calling on Indians to participate in the fast and provide the much needed support to the Hazare movement-described in their Facebook page as the ‘next freedom movement’ of India. Here is what I found- Indeed, it is a freedom movement, a long-awaited one at that.

Corruption in India is a normal affair, much expected and as surprising as the water quantity in the milk supplied daily. Why, there is an even an entire page in Wikipedia describing corruption in India! Let me give you a brief glimpse into it-my country ranks among the top corrupt nations of the world, with over 30 billion black money in USD stowed away in Swiss banks-13 times the nation’s national debt & nearly ¼ of the people running my country are criminals . Why take the nation as a whole? It makes things look bigger-providing this surreal view of the state of affairs. Let’s talk about my distant relative-he works in a government office as an engineer. Going by his salary you wouldn’t expect the huge bungalow and the sleek car to be his. Let me tell you about a friend, who managed to pass with 3rd division marks in his 12th. Now he studies in one of the top private universities in the state.

All that is old news, what is new is Anna Hazare and his stand against corruption. While the rest of India stood as a mute spectator (including yours truly) and bowing to the powers that be, Anna Hazare proved that his conscience is alive. A former soldier and a Padma Bhusan recipient he still hasn’t forgotten his duty to the nation. After making numerous reforms in Maharashtra, his voice has risen loud enough to shake the walls of the Indian Parliament. The Jan Lokpal Bill, which has been in the waiting queue for nearly 42 years has found its voice in this soldier’s call for freedom from corruption.
Many cities, many citizens old & young have now found the guts to speak up against corruption due to one man. The usual early morning chats at the tea stall with the day’s newspaper in hand has now been transformed into something more concrete. There are still many who speak of the Jan Lokpal Bill & Anna Hazare as if it’s movement going on in some other country & also many who are over enthusiastic and itching to declare a ‘bandh’ and wreck a few government offices. Ask them about the Bill & you will draw a blank. My sympathies for those ignorant souls.

As the movement gains momentum, the question arises what can you-the legendary common man/’Aam Aadmi’ of India do? Just joining the fast and yelling slogans down the street is just a façade, a hollow attempt if in your own life you forget the old school lessons of honesty being the best policy. You pay the officer at the desk an extra 500 bucks to get your work done sooner, you slip a 100 rupee note into the hands of the traffic police & zoom away in your vehicle again, you donate lavishly to the school to ensure your child gets the best education, I could go on & on listing out stuff that we do, without batting an eyelid.

I say we are the reason that corruption exists. It’s like a vicious cycle- some of us bribe & it turns into a trend, a common courtesy even and then those who can’t, suffer silently. If each of us turns into an Anna Hazare, and refuses to bow to the trend, wouldn’t corruption die? I am not asking anything huge, just a simple ‘NO’ at the right moment can change things. True whistle-blowers are mercilessly killed in this nation, but then isn’t this a slow death too? Isn’t your self-respect, your conscience dying everyday as you stand and watch corruption thrive?

I may not fast but I can take a pledge to not let my conscience die, to not let corruption become a part & parcel of my life or my country! Whether the Jan Lokpal body materialises or not, I will stand against corruption whenever I encounter it.
Who’s with me?