Bhubaneswar: Raja is the most-awaited festival for girls in Odisha.
Being a celebration of menstruation and womanhood, girls pamper themselves in different ways — putting mehendi, wearing colourful bangles and new clothes. The coronavirus pandemic, however, has proved to be a damper this year.
As Raja is a Gana Parba (mass festival), it cannot be celebrated by maintaining social distancing and donning a mask.
Let us find out how girls will be celebrating ‘Lockdown Raja’.
Pragyan Priyadarshini Sahoo, Patrapada, Bhubaneswar
Raja is a festival of love, entertainment, and brotherhood. Every girl in Odisha prepares so much in advance. People celebrate this festival by showing respect to women, says Pragyan, a lecturer.
“I look forward with great excitement to this time every year. The Maharaja Cricket Association has been celebrating Raja in my village for the last 10 years. We enjoy the festival a lot in the village. But for the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot celebrate the festival this time like every year. My friends are very sad that we cannot be on the swings this year,” she added.
“Corona has changed everything in our society. We have to compromise with our tradition,” says Pragyan.
“I will celebrate the festival with family members at home, with pithas and paan,” she informs.
“I request all my friends to celebrate the festival in a unique way this time. They can enjoy homemade pithas, play with brothers and sisters and take blessings from elders to celebrate the festival,” Pragyan says.
“Culture survives only if the society survives,” she adds.
Soumya Sephali Sahoo, Bhubaneswar
“This year there’s no laughter around the swings, no gathering at the parks, no exchanging of poda pitha and chhena poda among friends and relatives,”says lecturer Soumya.
“Though this Raja is different due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has taught us lessons. It is not always important to buy dresses and roam around places or have a grand celebration. We can celebrate, feel happy and be joyous within the four walls of our home and with family members as well,” she remarks.
“Simplicity has been a concern now and hope people will understand this sooner or later. Material joy is temporary and familial bondage gives everlasting happiness in any situation,” says Soumya.
Happy Raja to all folks, she wishes.
Tamana Vyas, Bhubaneswar
“I will celebrate Raja this year with my family. Because of the pandemic and lockdown, my sister and I are together this year,” says Tamanna, an actress.
“This year Raja will not be the same. We can’t buy new clothes and gather to play swings. Everyone is confined to their homes,” she laments.
“I belong to a Marwari family and Raja is not part of our culture. But since I waborn and brought up in Odisha, I have been celebrating it with my friends and neighbours since my childhood,” says Tamanna.
“We have to understand that this lockdown and social distancing is good for us and our society. We have to control our feelings and restrict ourselves in our homes so that we can enjoy festivals next year,” the actress observes.
“I will celebrate the festival by having pithas and paan this year,” says Tamanna, adding that she will learn making poda pitha from her mother.
Priyanka Panda, Cuttack
“I had many plans to celebrate the festival, like every year. But the COVID-19 outbreak has changed everything. I will stay at home during these three days of Raja and try to entertain myself. My father will install a swing at home for me. I will eat poda pitha and play swing at home only,” informs Priyanka, a student.
“Since I can’t celebrate the festival with my friends this year, I will enjoy with my family. That will also be a happy occasion for me,” she adds.