The History and Culture of the Rajjo Festival in Odisha

Odisha is well known for its cultural magnificence and heritage. Here, we pick up just one such festival which is known as Rajjo Festival. It is also known by other names like the Raja Festival and Raja Parba.

Here, let us find out more about this festival under the following sub-heads:

  • Dates of Rajjo Festival in 2023
  • Its Origin
  • Significance of the Raja Festival
  • How is it celebrated?

So, let us take one sub-topic at a time, and know about each in brief.


Dates of Rajjo Festival in 2023
This is a three-day festival and this year in 2023, the same will be celebrated on the following dates-

  • ✔ Pahili Raja – Date: June 14th 2023
  • ✔ Raja Sankranti – Date: June 15th 2023
  • ✔ Basi Raja – Date: June 16th, 2023
  • ✔ Basumati Snana – Date: June 17th 2023
Its Origin
The Rajjo Festival is being celebrated in Odisha for centuries. It is an ancient festival and its origin is a belief that is indeed powerful. It is believed that just as a woman undergoes a menstrual cycle, the Earth does too. As such, this time, it requires adequate rest, nurturing, and rejuvenation. In other words, it is related to the renewal of life and rebirth of the Earth. So, in Odisha, the kings and queens celebrated the occasion so that they could rejuvenate their land and subjects. As tradition goes, many restrictions are imposed on the woman folk. This is even more popular among the unmarried girls.

The restrictions that the woman folk must follow include right from not doing any work inside the kitchen, cleaning and mopping floors, walking without shoes, and combing hair. However, you will find that in many urban settings, not all of these restrictions are followed and people have become liberal in many impositions.

Significance of the Raja Festival

In our country, menstruation is still taboo and is the least talked about. As such, this festival is a unique occasion and celebrates Bhudevi, wife of Lord Jagannath.

Once the Earth undergoes a menstrual cycle for three days, on the fourth, she gets a ceremonial bath. The first day of the Rajjo Festival is known as Pahili Raja. The second day of the festivity is called Raja Sankranti. The third day is known in the local dialect of Bhuin Dahana. The last day which marks the day of the ceremonial bath is known as Basumata Puja, also popularly called Basumata Gadhua.

How is it celebrated?

Aside from its traditional and cultural significance, the festival is a symbol of solidarity and unity within the community. It is a time to celebrate, share, and enjoy the occasion.

Cuisine or food plays a crucial role in the occasion on all four days. One of the main recipes or dishes that is considered mandatory for the festival is known as poda pitha. It is made up of jaggery, coconut, and rice. It is a sweet cake. Apart from this main dish, the other delicacies that you can indulge in during these days include Chakuli Pitha, Manda Pitha, and Poda Arisa.
Dressing up for elegance

The traditional dress code is followed during the Rajjo festival in Odisha. While men are expected to wear Gamchas and dhotis, which are traditional attire worn on the waist. Women adorn themselves in colorful sarees, vibrant colors, wear jewelry, and put flowers in their hair. Interestingly, the attire worn by women is significant as it symbolizes fertility and womanhood.

Dance and music galore

Any festival is not complete without music and dance. You will get to see traditional forms of music that include Dalkhai, Pala, and Ghoda Nacha. While you will catch a glimpse of women dancing, men play traditional instruments like mridanga and dhol.

The Raja or Rajjo Festival of Odisha is not just a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Odisha, it is the time when all family members come together for a reunion.