Nuakhai: Odisha Agricultural Festival

Nuakhai: Odisha Agricultural Festival

Nuakhai or Nuankhai is an agricultural festival mainly observed by people of Odisha. Nuakhai is observed to welcome the new rice of the season. According to the calendar it is observed on panchami tithi (the fifth day) of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhadraba (August-September), the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. This is the most important social festival of Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Simdegain Jharkhand, where Odia culture is much predominant.

Nuakhai Festival Date:

  • 2022: 01/09/2022 (Thursday)
  • 2023: 20/09/2023 (Wednesday)
  • 2024: 08/09/2024 (Sunday)

Nuakhai: Odisha Agricultural Festival

Nuakhai is also called ‘Nuakhai Parab‘ or ‘Nuakahi Bhetghat‘. The word ‘nua’ means ‘new’ and ‘khai’ means ‘food’, so the name means the farmers are in possession of the newly harvested rice. The festival is seen as a new ray of hope. It has a big significance for farmers and the agricultural community. The festival celebrated at a particular time of the day which is called lagan. Arsaa pithaa is prepared to celebrate this festival. When the lagan comes, the people first remember their village god or goddess and then have their nua.

Customs of the nine colors of Nuakhai:

Nuakhai is understood to have nine colors and as a consequence, nine sets of rituals are followed as a prelude to the actual day of celebration. These nine colors include:

  • Beheren (announcement of a meeting to set the date)
  • Lagna dekha (setting the exact date for partaking of new rice)
  • Daka haka (invitation)
  • Sapha sutura and lipa puchha (cleanliness)
  • Ghina bika (purchasing)
  • Nua dhan khuja (looking for the new crop)
  • Bali paka (final resolve for Nuakhai by taking the Prasad (the offering) to the deity)
  • Nuakhai (eating the new crop as Prasad after offering it to the deity, followed by dancing and singing)
  • Juhar bhet (respect to elders & gift transfers)

Celebrations of the Festival:

The date of the festival was not fixed in old times but nowadays date of the festival is decided in advance by the main priest of the community according to the Hindu calendar. People celebrate the festival on previously set date whether crops are ripened or not.

The date of Nuakhai is fixed since 1991 on Bhadraba Sukla Panchami Thithi. Currently people worship Goddess Laxmi on the day of Nuakhai. People wear new and traditional attires. Elders of the family first offer Nua to the deity and later distribute it among the family members. All family members take blessings from the elders for happiness and prosperity in their life. People greet their relatives and friends in the afternoon. They sing and perform their traditional Sambalpuri dances like Rasakeli, Dalkhai, Maelajada, Sajani and more. People who are migrated to other states of India also celebrate Nuakhai with same traditional values and fascination. Nuakhai festival is a symbol of Sambalpuri culture and it reminds people of the Odisha the importance of agriculture in one’s life.

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