Tribal festival of wedlock and song

BARIPADA, June 15 : The three-day festival of Raja carries special significance for members of Khadia, the most backward tribal community of Mayurbhanj district. The community is found at the foot area of Simlipal and few other rural pockets in the district.

The specialty of these tribals’ Raja festival is that the maiden girls choose their life partners on the occasion. As per the usual practice, on the first day of Raja, which is also known as Pahili Raja, the youths present various gifts to the girls of their villages and then leave for the forests.

The girls observe a fast on the day and pray to God for a good life partner. The next day is a day of merry making. Even youths of neighbouring villages come and participate in the songs and good cheer. The boys and girls dance, and, after the merry-making, the girls cook and invite their selected youths for food.

The third and last day of Raja is marked by an impressive song competition, which is held in the middle of the village and attended by the youths and their parents. After getting hints from their daughters about their respective choices, the parents approach the prospective grooms and request them to marry their daughters.
Apart from partner choosing, the festival also carries immense importance for the tribal people as one of the most celebrated events of the year. New dress, delicious food, and visiting near and dear ones, also mark the festive occasion.