What Is Raja Parba Without The Ubiquitous Paan? Know The Connection

Bhubaneswar: The Raja festival is incomplete without chewing on delectable paan (betel leaf).Even those not addicted make it a point to partake of the sweet paan in keeping with the cultural tradition during the three-day celebrations in Odisha. Paan, a symbolic offering to Goddess Lakshmi, is an integral part of the celebrations.

In Cuttack, Rohit’s Banarasi paan stall has become a hotspot, offering 64 types of masala varieties and attracting a large crowd. There are unique preparations like fire paan, which features a burning camphor at the centre and is priced at Rs 70 each. Others like Arisa Pitha sold at Rs 50 each, laal paans at Rs 30 for a piece, and regular paans priced at Rs 20 are also in high demand.

“We have been in this profession for fifteen years now, and the response to the special Banarasi Raja paans, has always been overwhelming,” said Rohit. “Every year, we have a decent surge in our business during this festival and we hope to continue this success throughout the three-day celebrations this year as well,” said the shopkeeper.

“I have been preparing Raja special paan for the last 15 years. This time I am using 64 varieties of masala and the cost of paan is between Rs 30 to Rs 70,” said the trader.

Similarly, in the Salepur district, local vendors are offering a range of traditional paans and dishes, while Chaudwar has emerged as a hotspot for the festival, with beautifully decorated dolis (swings) arranged specifically for women.

In addition to the paan shops, vibrant fairs and events or ‘Mahotsavs’, have been organised, primarily in the capital city. These festivals offer a plethora of activities, including games, competitions, dance, music, and endless fun and frolic, ensuring a thrilling experience for visitors of all ages throughout the day. During Raja festivities, apart from enjoying pitha, paan & doli swinging, women also play community games like Puchi Khela while men enjoy Pasa Khela.

Also known as Mithuna Sankranti, on this day, devotees honour Lord Vishnu and Goddess Earth (Bhudevi) with offerings and prayers. It coincides with the beginning of the agricultural season as the earth prepares for the monsoon rains. Farmers ready their fields, trusting in Bhudevi’s blessings for a bountiful harvest. It is symbolic of the fertility of the earth. All decked up, girls swing wildly on the swings hung on the branches of the trees, and sing songs of love, marriage and their partners. During this celebration, women are given a break from household work.

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