Sambalpur, September 16
Nuakhai, A unique festival of western part of Orissa is a ceremonial eating of rice prepared from new grains.
This festival being celebrated this year on September 16 Sunday is Agriculture based. It is a festival to express men’s gratitude to nature and reverence to god for supply of food.
Nuakhai is observed on Bhadra sukla panchami every year. Nabanna is being observed in different states of India though in different times and different forms.
In other parts it is observed after the harvest but in western Orissa it is observed much before the harvest’ that is to welcome and worship the early variety of new paddy before it is used by man, animal and birds.
Generally ‘Khetra Puja’ is done before the collection of new paddy plants. The paddy plants are also bathed with ‘Panchamruta’. On the festival day rice prepared out of newly brought paddy grain and use for preparing ‘Nabanna’,.
The Nabarnna then offered to the ‘Esta Debata’ of the family, village deity and then consumed by all members of family who sit together. Youngsters seek the blessing elder of the family.
Different culture functions get organised in afternoon or in the evening. Adibashi or trial communities in remote areas have group Folk dances through out the day.
They believe that if Nuakhai is observed then all the diseases will be cured, losses of crops and related problems will be rooted out.
Nuakhai Juhar is a solemn occasion which calls upon the people to forget vanity ego and tends. This is a festival of gratitude and forgiveness. The festival reminds us to rededicate ourselves for more production grains. The festival renews family and social bonds.
The massage of the festival is ‘Samanani prapasaha boannabhagyuh'(Atharba Beda) which means let food and water be equally available to all.
Prof. Narayan Pruseth is an eminent writer