Amidst taboos against menstruation, this Indian state celebrates it with a 3-day long festival

Sand art on the Raja festival made by award-winning artist Sudarshan Pattnaik@sudarsansand
  • Odisha celebrates Raja festival starting today.
  • The 3-day long festival celebrates menstruation and womanhood.
  • It also signifies the onset of monsoon in the state.
Though the country still struggles with taboos related to menstruation, the Indian state of Odisha commenced a 3-day long festival celebrating menstruation and womanhood. The Raja festival is celebrated by and for, women and girls.

According to myths, during these three days of the Raja (pronounced raw-jaw) festival Mother Earth or Bhudevi undergoes menstruation. On the fourth day, a ceremonial bath takes place.

Also called Mithuna Sankranti, which means the beginning of the Mithuna month, it signifies the first showers of monsoon in the state which readies the soil for productivity.

During the festival, women and girls from across the state buy new clothes, play games and celebrate it by taking a break from work and routine. Agricultural work too comes to a standstill during these days.

Almost every other household will adorn a swing, for the recreation of women and girls to enjoy during the festival.

This festival has also become a talking point on social media lauding Odisha’s cultural heritage. This celebration means that it doesn’t shy away from the topic and mention of menstruation. In India, menstruation is still a taboo and women still fight many stigmas some of which keep them away from kitchens and places of worship.

See Also:
In a country where menstruation is still a taboo, Indian startups are breaking stereotypes
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