Home Culture Raja Festival: Celebrating menstruation and womanhood

Raja Festival: Celebrating menstruation and womanhood

The Raja festival of Odisha is celebrated for three days and this year Raja Parba is being celebrated from June 14 to June 16. The specialty of this festival is that women are accorded due respect and the festival is a reminder to consider periods or menstruation not as something dirty but a phenomenon to be revered and celebrated.

June 15, 2021: While in many parts of the country where girls’ periods or menstruation is considered a taboo even today, in the Eastern Indian state of Odisha, people have been celebrating this in the form of a festival, named Raja Parba (Festival).

Raja festival

Image: Twitter

The three-day long festival “Raja” is a celebration of Menstruation and womanhood.

This festival of Odisha is celebrated for three days and this year Raja Parba is being celebrated from June 14 to June 16.

The specialty of this festival is that women are accorded due respect and the festival is a reminder to consider periods or menstruation not a dirt but to be revered and celebrated.

The specialty of this festival is that it not only celebrates womanhood but it also celebrates the happiness of the earth being fertile. It is celebrated for Bhudevi or earth. It is believed in Odisha that the divine wife of Lord Jagannath (Vishnu) is known as Bhudevi and she undergoes her menstrual cycle during this period before the onset of rains.

At this time of the month the Goddess Earth is given rest and all agricultural activities like digging the soil, ploughing the field, are being suspended. It is believed that after this the earth becomes even more fertile.

Each and every woman is compared with the earth and just as the earth is getting fertile, women are also given a special place in this festival.

She would not have to work for 4 days and was allowed to take rest during these days.

During the three days, women are given a break from household work and time to play indoor games.

Girls adorn traditional saree and apply alatha on foot. All people abstain from walking barefoot on the earth.

Raja festival and a few facts on menstruation

The festival celebrates that aspect of womanhood which makes the feminine entity unique.

Because menstruation is considered as a sign of fertility, and therefore, it celebrates femininity and her ability to give birth to another life.

Image: Utkal Today

The facts of menstruation are still unknown and it needs to be known to all.

Your periods get worse when it is cold

Cold weather can impact your period, making it heavier and longer than normal. During the winter months, a woman’s flow, period duration, and even pain levels are longer than the summer. This pattern also extends to women who live in colder climates rather than warmer temperatures.

The seasons can also affect your PMS too; the darker, shorter days can adversely impact your mood when combined with female productive hormones. This is thought to be because of a lack of sunshine, which helps our bodies to produce vitamin D and dopamine which both boost our moods, happiness, concentration and all-round health levels.

You can still get pregnant if you’re on your period

Many people assume that you cannot get pregnant if you have sex while on your period. However, this is not true. Although it’s more unlikely that you will become pregnant while you are menstruating, it is not impossible at all. This is because sperm can survive in the body for up to five or six days so if you have a relatively short cycle, have sex towards the end of your period, and ovulate just after your period finishes, you could potentially get pregnant.

The average starting age for periods has changed over the years

Back in the 1800s, girls wouldn’t get their periods until they were well into their teens; the average age was around 17. Nowadays, the average age to start menstruating is 12, a whole five years younger. Scientists think there are a few key reasons for this: namely, improved nutrition.

We’re eating better and more than our ancestors did a few hundred years ago, and fat cells make estrogen.

 The more fat cells you have, the more estrogen you have in your body, which can trigger the start of your menstrual cycle as a girl. Increased stress levels are also a factor. That’s right, high-stress levels can actually trigger the beginning of your period.

You will spend nearly 10 years of your life on your period

From the time of her first cycle to menopause, the average American woman will have around 450 periods in her lifetime. That’s a lot of periods.

This equates to around 10 years or about 3,500 days of the average woman’s life that will be spent menstruating.

Translated into period products, this works out at around 11,000 tampons that the average woman uses in a lifetime.

Of course, everyone is different, and anything from cycle length to child-bearing, breastfeeding and culture can influence the number of periods a woman gets over her lifetime. However, one thing is certain periods impact us all.

It’s easier than you think to have eco-friendly periods with period panties

There are actually many different ways you can reduce your waste and have a guilt-free, eco-friendly period. Disposable tampons and sanitary pads (which are mostly made from plastic) are no longer the only options out there. These days, there are all sorts of sustainable period products to choose from that you can keep and reuse for years such as menstrual cups and period panties.

You lose a lot less blood than you think during your period

Although it may seem like a lot, your body only actually loses around three tablespoons of blood during your period; the average woman can lose anywhere from one tablespoon to a small cup of blood during a normal period. If it seems like you’re losing more than this during your period, you should seek advice from a medical professional. Losing too much blood can increase your risk of anemia which can cause dizziness, tiredness and poor circulation.

Also read: Celebrating Mother Earth during Raja festival in Odisha 2021

Your period can affect how you sound and smell

According to vocalization researchers, women’s voices can change slightly during their menstrual cycle due to our reproductive hormones affecting the vocal cords. This means women can sound different while on their period, and even “less attractive” according to the participants in their testing.

The same female reproductive hormones also affect your natural scent, meaning you smell different when you’re on your period. This is very subtle and actually consciously detectable. It’s more of an animalistic thing, harking back to our caveman days when men would be more attracted to women who were ovulating rather than menstruating (meaning they could procreate).

Menstrual blood is the only source of blood that is not traumatically induced. Yet in modern society, this is the most hidden blood, the one so rarely spoken of and almost never seen, except privately by women.

By Sugyani Mohapatra


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