Rajo-Rajaswala-Menstruating mother earth
While I sit down writing this blog about a festival that glorifies womanhood, I know for sure that in some corner of this world, a women would be getting harassed, raped, her modesty outraged and, a worst case scenario of being killed-even before she sees the light of life on this beautiful place we call "Mother earth".
Tradition of Rajo (Pronounced Raw Jaw) festivities dates back to ancient times and started as a tribal practice in the vibrant and colorful state of Odisha. Today, it is celebrated across the state with much fanfare, pomp and show. The festival is a four day affair and signifies the beginning of solar month Mithuna, from which rainy season starts.
Rajo celebrates menstruation process of mother earth. While the world associates menstruation as a taboo, here's a festival that glorifies the whole idea. Pahili Rajo or the first day, marks the date on which Goddess Earth or Bhudevi- the divine wife of Lord Jagannath undergoes her menstrual cycle. The whole community respects and celebrates this fact by not allowing women at home to do any physical or laborious work, and are fed all kinds of healthy food , especially the traditional Poda Pitha, thus preparing her to become healthy and fertile to bear healthy children in future. Mother earth too is worshiped and agricultural activities such as ploughing, digging etc are completely avoided to allow her complete rest to rejuvenate her fertility.
Most customs in our country revolving around the whole idea of menstruation consider this life process as an act of impurity, thus keeping women secluded, with many restrictions imposed on them during these four days. Oh why then do we forget that this impure blood is what that carried us and protected us in the womb for a whole nine months period?
When we are celebrating the fact that it's a natural process that every woman goes through, then why we woman (let's spare our men here) hesitate to talk about it? So much so that every household has a nick name for it as well. As if it's a mission and we are all the chosen ones taking part in it as a spy ! Really?
It's certainly an unnatural behavior that we associate shame with a bodily process that is responsible to produce our progeny and carry on further the fantastic lineage that we have. Phew !!
Enough cursing people from my own gender. Let's hear from our well meaning men folks! When we worship mother earth, then why do we turn insensitive towards the women around us? From struggling with her luck even before she is born, to looking for excuses and secluded places to breast feed her child- she faces harassment everywhere. Because there are gentlemen around who somehow find the sight of a woman feeding her child a funny thing to witness, as if she is some fixed fixture, drool-worthy and men are allowed to stare at her mercilessly with a free ticket they believe their eyes have earned !
Why is that she has to fear every time she steps out late , or consider several factors while taking a decision that may make her life worthwhile? When God created and produced her to be an equal partner, who are we to consider her one level inferior who must be shown the place where she belongs! Why don't men rethink before ridiculing her or considering any act of cruelty against her?
However ruthless the world may be, let's not forget the fact that both women and mother earth are "givers" ! All they need is love and care. If we can't promise them these, we have enough incidents to remind us of mother nature's fury. Let's not forget that "the hand that rocks the cradle, is the hand that rules the world " !
Happy Rajo to you as well.