Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

People across Western Odisha are all set to celebrate ‘Nuakhai’ in a subdued manner amid Covid guidelines strictly in place. Residents of the region are geared up with finalisation of all preparations for the mass annual agrarian festival.

Nuakhai is celebrated by offering porridge prepared from new paddy crop (Nabanna) to the Goddess Samaleswari, the presiding deity of western Odisha, to seek blessings for a bumper harvest. 

The agrarian festival is observed on the fifth day of the lunar fortnight and the day after Ganesh Chaturthi on Hindu Bhadrapada month.

As per the lagna for the ritual fixed by the Pundit Mahasabha, the Nabanna will be offered to the Goddess between 10.15 am and 10.25 am. 

Devotees will be allowed to have darshan of the Goddess at Samaleswari Temple following the ritual amid Covid guidelines between 12pm to 5.30 pm. Keeping the rush of the devotees in view, the temple administration has changed the timing for public darshan. 

On the auspicious occasion, family members and relatives join for a get-together with a feast to mark the day. The younger members of the family seek the blessings of the elder ones by offering ‘Nuakhai Juhar’.

“We will start the celebration of the festival after offering Nabanna to Goddess Samaleswari. However, this year the celebration will be a low-key affair in view of the pandemic,” said one of the organisers Himanshu Sekhar Padhy.

(Edited by Suryakant Jena)