Mid-June is a time of great merriment for young women in Odisha. Orchards, gardens, parks, village squares and virtually every street teem with girls beautifully decked up, playing all sorts of games, and singing folk songs as they fly back and forth on swings hung from trees especially for them.
This celebratory mood marks one of Odisha’s biggest festivals – Raja Parba – observed on the 15th of June, every year. For three days, the state erupts in a collective rapture as it celebrates the womanhood of Mother Earth, or Bhudevi, as the giver of life. The belief is that Bhudevi menstruates for three days before she is given a purification bath. It is only after this ritual is complete, and the first monsoon showers drench the parched soil, that the sowing season begins in the state.
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