Bhubaneswar: The harvest festival Nuakhai is being celebrated across Western Odisha on Tuesday with full gutso and spirit. Also referred to as Nuakhai Parab or Nuakahi Bhetghat it signifies celebration of newly harvested produce.
The name Nuakhai is a combination of two words, ‘Nua’ meaning new and ‘khai’ which means eat. When put together, Nuakhai stands for eating of new rice, further suggesting that the farmers in possession of newly harvested rice.
People worship food grain on this auspicious day which is looked upon as a new ray of hope. The mandate says that the newly harvested rice is cooked and served first to local presiding deity. And then the entire family sits down to eat together. Apart from cooking the new crop, a bunch of delicacies are made on this special day.
Also, farmers offer the first produce from their lands to Goddess Samaleswari, to whom the festival is dedicated. Following the Hindu calendar, the day falls on the Panchami Tithi of the lunar fortnight in Bhadrapada (August–September) months, the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
The preparation for the festival starts atleast 15 days ahead. Nuakhai is understood to have nine colours and as a consequence nine sets of rituals are followed as a prelude to the actual day of celebration. The houses are cleaned up, new clothes are bought and on the big day everyone is decked up in their best.
Nuakhai is celebrated not only across districts like Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Nuapada, Jharsuguda, Sonepur, Boudh but also across several areas of Jharkhand. Nuakhai is often compared to Tamil Nadu’s Onam which is also a celebration of fresh harvest. India being agriculture based country; this is of massive significance for the agricultural community.