Bhubaneswar: The first day, Pahili Raja of the three-day Raja festival was celebrated with much fanfare in the Odisha capital on Friday.
Women and young girls were all decked up, dressed up in their best.
Some social activists celebrated Pahili Raja with the children of jail inmates from across Odisha.
City-based Madhurmayee Adarsha Siksha Niketan under the aegis of Odisha Patita Udhar Samiti organised a programme with the children.
Social activist Niroja Laxmi Mahapatra, who is also warden of Madhurmayee Adarsha Siksha Niketan said, “Like every year, this year also, we celebrated Raja with children of the jail inmates. When the whole of Odisha is celebrating the festival, why should they be deprived of it?”
Around 50 children had come for the first day of the celebration. Their parents are undergoing life imprisonment in different prisons of Odisha, she added.
“As they cannot celebrate the festival with their parents, we try to provide them joy on this occasion,” said Niroja.
Madhurmayee Adarsha Siksha Niketan is a hostel, situated inside the Jharpara jail. It is meant exclusively for the children of prisoners and is run by the Odisha Patita Udhar Samiti.
All the children wore new dresses and adorned themselves. City-based social organisation, Ankita provided new dresses to them, informed Niroja.
“We have arranged different types of Pithas (pancakes) for them. Another organisation, ‘Wish’ and some transgenders provided cosmetics to them,” she informed.
MLA Anant Narayan Jena was present on the occasion.
Children enjoyed the swings, Puchi Geeta and song competitions during the celebrations.
“We created awareness on the importance of plantation among the children. They should plant trees for a green Bhubaneswar,” said Chairman of Wish, Anusruta Singhdeo.
“We are not celebrating Raja this year. Since we do not have trees, how can we tie swings? We celebrated the festival by eating sweets and cakes only. We planted 25 trees today in the Nayapalli area,” said TG Suraksha Trust president, Menka Kinnar.