Pahili Raja, is a Hindu festival celebrated in Odisha, on the first day of the major festival ‘Mithuna Sankranti’, which is a three day festival. It is believed that the rain season begins after the celebration of this festival. During this festive celebration the unmarried girls, who are next in the line of marriage in a family are well-groomed during this day and made to follow few peculiar rituals. Some are as follows eating uncooked food, not walking barefoot and taking vows to give birth to healthy offspring. This festive marks the beginning of the monsoon season and it is believed that the soil is moistened by the rain, that is about to come after this celebration.
Pahili Raja, where Raja is the name derived from ‘Rajaswala’, which literally means a menstruating woman. It is believed that the Earth Goddess also bleeds during the first three days, marking the beginning of the fertility and on the fourth day is organised as the ceremonial bath of Bhudevi or Goddess Earth. She is the wife of Lord Jagannath. This festival is famous for the most remarkable dish known as ‘Padopitha’. People play many indoor games during this period. Including this, many outdoor games like Kabbadi are also organised for young men.
Including playing games, they also sing a folk song named ‘Raja Gita’. Many offerings are also made to the mother Earth and girls, women bath the grinding stone of the turmeric paste and also offer flower and Sindoor to the Earth. In addition to offerings, girls who are looking forward to getting married, take a bath after three days and wear new clothes on the fourth day of the celebration. People visit their relatives and neighbours on this special day and exchange sweets. In 2018, this festival falls on June 14th.