Bhubaneswar: Raja festival celebrations will be unique this year due to COVID-19. Some organisers have decided to observe the festival following the rules of social distancing.
The Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has taken the initiative of ‘Pitha On Wheels’ and ‘Home Delivery’.
“City denizens enjoy different types of Pitha (pancakes) like Manda, Arisha, Kakara, Chakuli, Chandrakala at Bhubaneswar Pantha Nibas during the three-day festival,” informed OTDC Chairperson Shreemayee Mishra.
In view of the shutdown, the Bhubaneswar Pantha Nibas will deliver Pithas to the people within three to four km distance from its location.
People can order Pithas by calling 9078885516, 9438243579, and 9437115437, she added.
Likewise, from June 15 to 17, Pithas will be available near Jayadev Bhaban, Rupali Square, Khandagiri Square, CRP Square, Pokahriput Square, and Niladri Vihar Square through the ‘Pitha on Wheels’ programme.
‘Pitha On Wheels’ will also be available in Sambalpur, said Mishra.
OTDC has given an opportunity to Self Help Groups for making and selling Pithas.
Besides, special counters will be opened at Pantha Nibas in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Sambalpur, and Rourkela for selling Pithas. People can buy Pithas from the counters provided they wear masks and adhere to social distancing norms, said Mishra.
Raja celebration in Patrapada here is famous because a large number of swings are installed during the festival. However, only two swings will be put up this year as compared to the 100 every year.
Lord Krishna and Radha will be worshipped on one swing and mother earth will be worshipped on the other, informed organising member Rabindra Sahu.
“The Maharaja Cricket Association has been organising this festival here since 2011. We had lost many trees during Cyclone Fani. That is why we had installed 70 swings last year. We are installing only two swings this year due to the pandemic,” said Sahu.
People from Patrapada, Sijua, Dumduma, Khordha, Bhubaneswar, and Cuttack come here to celebrate the occasion.
The association also organises cultural functions and Mehendi, Puchi, Jhoti and Muruja competitions during these days
“It is really a difficult situation for us. The government should relax the rules at least this Sunday,” said Deba Prasad Parija, secretary of the city-based trust, Sambhabana.
Sambhabana celebrates Raja every year in the city. “Our programme showcases the culture, tradition, songs, and dances of Odisha. I don’t think Raja can be celebrated online,” said Parija.
The festival is a celebration of menstruation and womanhood. It is based on the belief that Mother Earth menstruates for the three days and is given a ceremonial bath on the fourth day.
Women and unmarried girls don their best look, wear new clothes and decorate themselves. They spend time on the swings, play indoor and outdoor games, and prepare a variety of cakes (Pitha) prepared at home.