Pahili Raja is celebrated every year on June 14. It is the first day of celebration of Raja Parba — a three-day festival celebrated in Odisha, India. The holiday celebrates menstruation and womanhood. The festival lasts for three days because it is believed that Mother Earth goes through a menstrual cycle for three days and takes a ceremonial bath on the fourth day.
History of Pahili Day
The word ‘raja,’ pronounced as raw-jaw, is from the Sanskrit word ‘rajaswala,’ meaning “in menstruation.” In the Hindu calendar, ‘Raja Sankranti’ or ‘Mithuna Sankranti’ is the first day of the Ashada month, and Pahili Raja Day is celebrated on the day before Sankranti. The first three days of the celebration of Raja Parba are considered days when ‘Boomadevi,’ or ‘Mother Earth,’ is menstruating. The second day marks the beginning of the solar month of ‘mithuna,’ which signifies the oncoming rains, while the fourth day of the festival is called ‘Basumati Snana’ or the “purification bath of the Earth,” when Mother Earth purifies herself.
The festival is associated with fertility, menstruation, and womanhood, which, rather than being shunned, should be a matter of pride. So, during the festival, in the state of Odisha in India, women are given a break from all household chores and farming. They dress up, paint their feet, and spend their free time playing indoor and outdoor games. Young women can also be seen singing songs while playing on rope swings.
Pahili Raja was once a tribal practice that has spread to all parts of Odisha. The way the festival is celebrated has evolved and continues to evolve, but the premise remains the celebration of womanhood and respect for women in the world.
Pahili Day timeline
The day before the Raja festival, people prepare their house and clean it.
Women wear new clothes, apply alta on their feet, and sing folk songs.
Young girls and women enjoy the ‘Raja Doli,’ a swing tied to trees.
Women bathe the grinding stone — a symbol of Mother Earth — apply turmeric paste, and adorn it with flowers.
Pahili Day FAQs
What is Raja in Odisha?
Raja is one of the most important festivals in Odisha. It celebrates womanhood.
Why do we celebrate Kumar Purnima?
Kumar Purnima is celebrated because it is the birthday of the goddess Laxmi, a primary Hindu deity.
Who founded Odisha?
Prince Kalinga established Odisha.
Pahili Day Activities
Swing from the Raja Doli
Create a makeshift ‘Raja Doli’ swing using cloth strips and tie it to a nearby tree. Swing from the cloth swing and enjoy the oncoming monsoon.
Buy new clothes and apply alta
Pahili Raja is a celebration of women and womanhood. Buy new clothes and apply ‘alta’ or ‘red dye’ to your hands and feet.
Take a break and enjoy the day
The holiday is the day for women to take a break from household chores. Enjoy the day outdoors by playing games and meeting your friends.
5 Important Facts About The Raja Parba Festival
The festival links the land to women
The festival pays respect to a woman by correlating the fertility of the land to that of a woman.
All agricultural activities discontinue
During the festival, people do not participate in agricultural activities to help Mother Earth relax.
Women don’t partake in household chores
Women aren’t allowed to perform household chores.
Folk songs are sung
Young girls and unmarried women sing traditional folk songs, and Jatra, a form of theater, is performed.
Women aren’t allowed to walk barefoot
Women aren’t allowed to walk barefoot on the floor or the soil.
Why We Love Pahili Day
It celebrates women
The festival is a celebration of women. It honors their uniqueness.
It is a celebration of menstruation
Pahili Raja links the menstruation of women to that of Mother Earth. It acknowledges that menstruation is something to be celebrated, not shunned.
It acknowledges the contribution of women
The holiday gives utmost respect to women and womanhood. It recognizes that women are the wheels that drive the cart of life, and without them, moving the cart is impossible.
Pahili Day dates