In 2021, the festival of Raja Sankranti is celebrated on 15 June.
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Abot Raja Sankranti celebrations
Raja Sankranti is celebrated in Odisha as a state government holiday. It falls in the Hindu calendar month of Asadha on the second day of the month. The festival is a celebration of the onset of the monsoon season.
Raja Sankranti is the second day of the Pahili Raja festival, which is a three-day festival that can sometimes go on for four days in the state.
The Raja Sankranti day is also called the ''Swing Festival'' because of the many varieties of swings that are hung from tree branches. Girls play on the swings while singing folk songs.
While Pahili Raja is the first day of the festival, Raja Sankranti the second day, the third day is called Basi Raja (past Raja). Raja Sankranti is also called Mithuna Sankranti with the meaning of the name being ''the proper king''.
During the festival, people do not walk barefoot on the earth as it is believed that the earth should be given rest before the monsoon rains fall on it. Women take a break from household chores and farmers take a break from agricultural work.
Everyone indulges in games with the women spending time playing indoor games and playing on the specially-constructed swings. These swings are called by different names such as ''dandi doli'', ''pata doli'', ''charki doli'', and ''Ram doli''. Young women who are single wear their traditional clothes and paint their feet red with a special red dye called ''alata''.
Vasumati Snana is the final day of the festival, which is sometimes on the fourth day. Here, a grinding stone symbolising the Hindu Goddess of earth, Bhumi, is given a ritualistic bath by women with turmeri paste. It is adorned with flowers afterwards. Seasonal fruits are offered to the Earth Mother Goddess after this. In order to prepare for this, the day before the festival is kept aside to clean the grinding stones in the houses and prepare the spices. This day is called ''Sajabaja'' meaning the preparatory day.
This is a time when people get together to welcome the rains and worship the earth as their mother and goddess who bestows her blessings onto them.
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