The three-day Raja festival marking the start of rainy season began across the coastal state with fervour and gaiety on Sunday, with a slight drop in the temperature adding to the public enthusiasm over the celebrations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik greeted the people of Odisha on the occasion.
"Greetings to the people of Odisha on the occasion of Raja Parba. May this festival bring happiness and prosperity in everyone’s life," tweetted Modi.
The most important festival of Odisha, Raja festival is associated with farmers and is celebrated during the onset of monsoon.
Also known as ‘Mithuna Sankranti’, Raja falls on the first day of the month of ‘Asadha’ (June-July) from which the rainy season starts. No agricultural activities are carried on these days, as per the tradition.
Women also get a break from household work during the festival days, during which they enjoy indoor games.
The festival holds special significance for girls and newly-married women. Besides putting on new attires, they enjoy the swings and munch on sweetmeat and delicacies.
"We are no more anxious. We are enjoying a lot, both at home and in our friends’ circle. We feel like free birds," exulted Malini Patnaik, a college student in state capital Bhubaneswar.
Shopping malls and stalls selling sweets and fruit also do a roaring business during the festival.