A very popular Odia festival, Raja or Mithuna Sankranti is a three-day-long festival, the second day of which marks the beginning of the solar month of Mithuna from, which the season of rains starts.
Mythologically, it has been a belief that the mother Goddess Earth or the divine wife of Lord Vishnu undergoes menstruation during the first three days. The fourth day is called Vasumati Snana, implying the ceremonial bath of Bhudevi.
“Raja” is derived from “Rajaswala” meaning a menstruating woman. During the medieval times, the festival became more admired as an agricultural holiday marking the worship of Bhudevi, who is the wife of Lord Jagannath. Even today it’s notable that a silver idol of Bhudevi is found in the Puri Temple beside Lord Jagannatha.
When the topic has already initiated, let’s concentrate, what menstruation actually is. Even if it’s a very familiar term, it’s still irrelevant for many.
So, basically, menstruation marks the beginning of a woman’s reproductive years. From the time when she has her first period, or a few days before, she can become pregnant. Periods normally start between the ages of 8 and 16 years and on average, around 5 to12 teaspoons of blood are shed.
Menstruation and menstrual practices still face many social, cultural, and religious restrictions which are a big barrier in the path of the menstrual hygiene management. Now if we focus on sustainable menstruation, the first thing that strikes our mind is female hygiene and sanitary products like pads and tampons. But at the same time, it’s equally important to plan for the disposal of these sanitary wastes, which has never been properly implemented. This is where sustainability comes into action.
An average sanitary napkin or tampon takes about 500 to 1000 years to decompose and they also contain chemicals, which if we replace with biodegradable products will have no negative impact on the environment or health.
There are several sustainable products available which many are not aware of. This lack of knowledge has ruined the environmental as well as hygienic practices. Products such as Bamboo fiber pads, Banana fiber pads, Water hyacinth pads, Menstrual cup are still unknown to people. These products have created miracles not only by its biodegradable nature but also by its comfort and hygiene.
So this raja, let it be the responsibility of every woman/girl to promote sustainable menstruation.
And an earnest request to all men not to avoid such issues and refer it as the problem of females, rather come forward and actively participate in promoting such innovative products so as to ensure a healthy environment and the wellness of our mothers and sisters.
At last,it’s also notable that our festival celebrate the purity of menstruation . It’s in our traditions and culture to respect the process which gives life.
Wishing everyone a very happy raja.
Let’s give a new meaning to Raja festival this year and make it a festival for the beneficiary of mankind.
RU ’22《B.A English hons》|| DAV ’19 || SLS ’17||💕
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