Sambalpur: People across the western Odisha are celebrating Nuakhai – the agrarian festival of the region – with religious fervor and gaiety today.
The ‘Nabanna’ or new rice out of newly harvested paddy crop was offered to Maa Samaleswari Devi in Sambalpur as per the schedule of the ‘lagna’ or auspicious moment. The lagna was in between 8.20 am and 8.35 am today. Later, people offered ‘Nabanna’ to their presiding deities.
In Patnagarh of Balangir district, the ‘Nabanna’ was also offered to Maa Pataneswari, the presiding deity of the region.
Meanwhile, chief minister Naveen Patnaik greeted the people of the western Odisha on the occasion of Nuakhai. In his Twitter message, prime minister Narendra Modi also greeted the people of Odisha and said, “Nuakhai Juhar! Greetings to the people of Odisha as they celebrate the festival of Nuakhai. May this festival further happiness in society.”
Odisha governor SC Jamir greeted people of the State on the occasion of the festival.
Among others, Union minister Jual Oram, Opposition leader Narsingh Mishra, PCC chief Prasad Harichandan and State BJP president KV Singhdeo greeted the people of the State on the occasion of Nuakhai. BJD MP from Kendrapara Baijayant Panda and BJP MLA from Rourkela Dilip Ray also greeted the people of the State.
‘Nuakhai’ has taken the shape of a mass festival in the region when the new paddy crop is offered to the presiding deity to seek blessings for a bumper harvest.
People offered the ‘Nabanna’ to the deity amidst ‘Hulahuli’, beating drums, cymbals and sounds of conch shells.
After eating ‘Nabanna’ bhog, people sought the blessings from elders in the family and locality which is called ‘Nuakhai Juhar’ in local parlance, a significant part of the festival. People also exchanged greetings which is called ‘Nuakhai Bhetghat’.
Various delicacies were prepared from the new rice and exchanged with relatives and friends.
‘New’ being the theme of this festival, people used everything new on the occasion including new clothes, pot, basket, leaves and tray for which their preparation starts at least a month preceding the festivities.
Several community programmes were held to mark the festival in which all sections of people take part. Cultural artists were much in demand for a host of programmes.