Bhubaneswar: Raja, a festival marking the menstruation and womanhood of Mother Earth kick-started from Thursday with much fanfare and gaiety.

The roads of the villages as well as the cities were decked up with colourful swings, which is the special feature of the festival.

During the three-day festival, the women especially the unmarried girls usually like to decorate themselves with Mehendi, Alata and different fashion cosmetics they get a break from the monotonous life.

It is believed that Mother Earth menstruates during these three days once in a year, which is celebrated by the women. As a mark of respect to the menstruation cycle of the earth, women give up cooking, vegetable cutting and other house work. Ploughing is also strictly prohibited during this period.

The first day of the festival is called Pahili Raja, second one is Raja Sankranti and last Bhuin Daha.

Eating sweet paan,cakes (pitha), girls spend time in merrymaking with reciprocation sweets amongst the friends and relatives and hanging in the swings of flower that is tied to a branch of tree.

A number of paan sellers in the city offered various flavours of paan. Like, various types of paans are available in the Vanarasi Paan Bhandar in Saheed Nagar. The shop offers around 10 flavours of paan and 250 types of paan masala.

‘Poda Pitha’ strikes to one’s mind when Raja comes, which is famous in Jagannath cult and a special characteristic of this festival. That apart, Arisa pitha, Kakara Pitha and different types of cakes are prepared in every house.

The Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has started Raja celebration for the four days here on Wednesday. Different types of Pithas including Poda Pitha are available for the visitors at Panthanivas.