It’s Trippy Tuesday! And we’re all set to explore the wackiest, weirdest and most unique festivals around the world.
In a vastly dynamic and culturally diverse country like ours, we don’t need to go far from home when it comes to stand-out practices. Our nation is host to some of the most one-of-kind festivals, rituals and cultures the world has ever seen! So The Sherp decided to explore one of the strangest festivals in the country in a special edition of – Trippy Tuesdays.
As amazing as our country can be, India is unfortunately known for some crude practices. One such practice includes the isolation of women who are menstruating with some places even going to the extent of alienating them from functions and holy places! Such practices need to be stopped immediately.
In refreshing news, however, the people of Odisha, seem to have gone one step ahead. Not only do they treat menstruating women with dignity and respect, but they have devoted an entire festival to them!
Serving as a breath of liberal air, one of the oldest festivals in Odisha, the Raja Festival, celebrates womanhood and fertility on a grand scale! The word Raja is derived from the word Rajaswala (menstruating woman).
As a custom of the festival, mother earth is considered as a figurative mother and womanhood is considered as a blessing. This fascinating harvest tradition has been taking place for years and we couldn’t be more delighted at the sheer advanced approach of the people.
This ancient festival compares the earth preparing for the harvest through slash and burn to a woman’s uterus cleaning and getting rid of old eggs and preparing the uterus for production of new ones. The people of Odisha even believe that during the three days of the festival, the earth is undergoing her menstrual cycle and hence is worshipped and given time to rest.
Their belief is so strong that no one is allowed to interfere with agricultural produces or pluck flowers during the festival as they believe it will cause mother earth discomfort during her period. Vasumati Gadhua, or a ceremonial bath of Bhudevi (mother earth), occurs on the fourth day of the festival, where villages often welcome heavy showers; marking the end of the earth’s fertile gestation period.
Although, in contemporary times, the festival focuses largely on agriculture and harvest, it still revolves around celebrating womanhood, making young women feeling appreciated, respected and accepting menstruation as a gift.
Odisha may be a small part of the country but this festival is a vast evolution from the usual taboo that has surrounded periods for years. In a country where society is dominated by patriarchal practices, forcing women to follow undignified practices and offensive rituals; we sure hope that the rest of the country takes a cue from the people of Odisha and embrace the ‘oh so dreaded’ menstruation!