Odisha bans congregation during Raja festival in view of Covid-19 pandemic
The Keonjhar district administration in an order said any kind of gathering for celebrations like Raja Doli, Mela, Mahostav, feast and traditional games related to Raja festival is strictly prohibited between June 11 and 16 in the mineral-rich district.Updated: Jun 12, 2020, 12:15 IST
Coronavirus pandemic cast its shadow over Raja, one of the most popular festivals at the onset of monsoon, with a district administration of Odisha banning any kind of congregation between June 11 and June 16.
The Keonjhar district administration in an order said any kind of gathering for celebrations like Raja Doli, Mela, Mahostav, feast and traditional games related to Raja festival is strictly prohibited between June 11 and 16 in the mineral-rich district. The festival, a tribute to menstruation of girls, is celebrated between June 14 and 16 when girls wear new clothes and swing away in mango orchards.
While Raja is a quite popular festival in most places of Odisha, in Keonjhar district it is celebrated on a bigger scale. At Jalabang area of the district, thousands of people throng to witness Rajabati marriage in which clay idols of Goddess Rajabati and her groom are married. A community feast is organized and people put up swings such as ‘Ram Doli’, ‘Charki Doli’, ‘Pata Doli’ and ‘Dandi Doli’.
In Sitabinj area of the district, people come in large numbers to have a glimpse of goddess Sita, and the twins-Laba and Kusha in a small temple during the festival. Legend has been that Goddess Sita stayed here when she was forsaken by Lord Rama and she gave birth to Laba and Kusha here.
Though it is still not clear if any other districts would issue orders like Keonjhar district administration, a government spokesperson said people need to be responsible while celebrating Raja. “Control, carefulness, responsibility are the broader messages of Raja festival. We should adhere to these principles while celebrating Raja this time amid the pandemic,” said Odisha government’s Covid spokesperson Subroto Bagchi.
The state government however on Thursday announced relaxation in the night curfew from 7 pm to 10 pm on June 12 to help them do shopping for Raja festival. Special Relief Commissioner Pradip Jena however said all other conditions such as social distancing and masks would have to be strictly followed.