Odisha is a land of 13 festivals in 12 months, of which Nuakhai is a very popular Sambalpuri festival in western Odisha. The area is densely populated by tribes whose main occupation is agriculture and this is the reason why they celebrate Nuakhai. The literal meaning of Nuakhai is “Nua” means New and “Khai” means to eat. eating the first rice of the harvest with their family.
Nuakhai Juhar shares gifts with loved ones, wishes them occasionally, and getting together as a family symbolizes unity. People leave their differences behind and start a new relationship. In the evening, people greet each other asking for the blessings of the elders.
It shows the kind of unity, brotherhood and bond that festivals have in our culture. The festival ends with folk songs, dances, plays expressing the local culture and the tradition of the different folds of society.
The objective of this festival is to celebrate the social bond and to accelerate the family bonds. This day is celebrated by farmers one day after observing Ganesh Chaturthi.
People who reside in different parts of the country come to their home countries on this day to celebrate the festival by wearing new clothes, offering prayers and preparing special dishes.
The festival has its origins in the Vedic period when the rishis were discussing Panchyajna. The yajna pralambana is the one that is intended to cut new crops and offer prayers to the mother goddess.
This festival has been a tradition since the 12th century AD. People celebrate this holiday with joy and happiness. The festival is celebrated by Chauvan Raja Ramai Deo in Patanagarh, which is now the Bolangir district in Odisha.
The king understood the importance of agriculture in the economic development of the state. So he made sure to change the practice of hunting and gathering into an agrarian way of life in western Odisha.
The Nuakhai festival teaches the present generation about the relevance of agriculture and the role of farmers in the development of the country.
Preparation begins two weeks before the actual start of the festival. This festival has 9 series of rituals that start from Behrana to Nuakhai and all end in Juhar Bhet. Here are the nine colors sequentially.
Beheren – This is the announcement of the meeting to be fixed on the date.
Lagna dekha -This is observed to set an exact date to participate in the new rice.
Daka haka – Daka means to call or invite and it is the invitation. It’s an invitation.
Sapha sutura and lipa-puchha – It’s a question of cleanliness.
Kina bika -It is the buying and selling of the rice harvest.
Nua dhan khuja -It is to find a new harvest.
Paka from Bali -It is to offer prasad to the deity.
Nuakhai -This ritual is popular and it is observed to eat the new harvest after offering it to the deity, followed by dancing and singing.
Juhar bhet – It is to receive blessings on the elderly and to share gifts with them.
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