Maria Venus Raj was born to an Indian father and a Filipino mother, the youngest of five children. As an infant, Raj was taken by her mother to Bato, Camarines Sur in the Bicolandia, and was registered by an aunt as a Philippine-born child.Raj grew up with her mother, a former tenant farmer and dressmaker.
For the first two decades of her life, Raj lived in a nipa hut made of wood, bamboo and anahaw leaves, with no electricity, in the middle of a sprawling rice field. She allegedly used rice paddy dikes for her early training, where she eventually developed her distinctive walk.
Raj started out by joining local beauty pageants, as well as oratorical contests at San Vicente High School, where her English teacher served as her coach. Using the prize money won in major contests, she to buy land on an installment basis for her mother as a means of improving their livelihood.
Raj obtained her bachelor's degree in Communication Arts, Major in Journalism, at Bicol University in Albay, with Latin honors (Cum Laude). She graduated through the scholarship that she received from the Francis Papica Foundation.She initially worked as an Information Assistant for theDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources for Region V. It was at this time that she also worked as a part-time fashion model in both her native Bicol and Manila.