The Essence of Raja Mithuna Sankranti•
Posted on June 15 2022
The Raja Mithuna Sankranti festival is a three-day to four-day earth festival celebrated primarily in Odisha to honour womanhood. The festival occurs on the very first day of the Hindu Asara month or between June and July according to the Gregorian calendar. The first day is known as Pahili Raja whole the second day is referred to as Mithuna Sankranti whereas the third day is called Basi Raja.
The second day of the festival commences the onset of the Mithuna solar month that embarks the start of the rainy season. The festival is observed when the transition of the sun from the Vrishabha rashi to Mithuna rashi takes place. It is said that the earth gets ready for rain spells during this festival period.
The festival spirit renders a colourful atmosphere and it is a much-welcomed time for people to spend some happy and memorable moments with their friends and relatives. Ironically, the women folk take a bath only on the first day and refrain from doing so on the next two days of the festival period.
The unique aspect of this festival is the tribute that it pays to the menstrual cycle experienced by women. According to the Hindu scriptures, Goddess Vasumati or Goddess Earth menstruates during this festival time. The goddess is represented as the wife of Lord Vishnu. She is given a ceremonial bath on the fourth day after Her menstrual cycle. A grinding stone is used to represent the goddess and lady devotees bathe the stone with a paste of turmeric. This is followed by decorating the grinding stone with sindoor, flowers and the like.
The festival is also referred to as a swing festival. Different types of rope swings like the ram doli, dandi doli, pata doli and chakri doli are tied on to the barks of banyan trees and the girls enjoy swinging on them in the hope of winning themselves ideal life partners.
Unmarried and married girls and women dress up in traditional attire on these days and decorate their feet with alatha. Unmarried girls also deck themselves with beautiful ornaments and compete among themselves to appear the best dressed. On this day, they offer their prayers and get ready for a married life. Married women get a break from their daily routine household work and spend their time playing indoor games like cards and Ludo and enjoying delicious food.
No agricultural activity like sowing or ploughing takes place on these days. This is because Mother Earth is said to be rejuvenating herself during this time. Another key highlight is that women do not scratch the earth or walk barefoot throughout the three days. They also do not tear anything apart.
It is customary to avoid food made of rice grains on this day. The people of Odisha make an uncooked delicacy called poda pitha on this day. This dish is a burnt cake that is made using rice powder, jaggery, butter, coconut, molasses and camphor. Some other dishes consumed on these three days are chandrakala, chakuli, arisha, kakara and manda.
Natives indulge in singing the popular folk song raja gita amongst various other songs. These songs talk of various elements like affection, love, social behaviour and respect. This singing is accompanied by a lot of dancing to welcome the rains. Apart from singing and dancing, country games like kabaddi are played in villages. The nights come to life in these villages with Gotipua dances and/or Yatra performances.
As on any Sankranti day, many people gather around river banks to pay homage to their ancestors. They also engage in charitable acts and donating clothes to the deserving and needy people. The famous Jagannath temple is beautifully decorated on the Raja Mithuna Sankranti day and is crowded by devotees to worship and seek the blessings of the lord and His wife, Bhudevi. Some Hindus also fast on this day to make the Sun God happy and be bestowed by Him with a happy and peaceful life in the coming months.
Written by - Deepthi K