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September 14, 2018
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Nuakhai is a major festival of Orissa. It is an agricultural festival celebrated to welcome the new rice of season. It is considered as the most important festival of western Orissa.
According to Hindu philosophy, Arnna is believed to be Brahma. Arnna is attributed to Goddesses Laxmi. Nuakhai Laxmi pooja iis observed on this day. Different tribes celebrate this festival with different names like the Pahadi Khadia and Dud Khadia called it as Jeth Nowakhiaa. The Oram called it NowaKhani, the Birjia called it Nawaba and Jam-nowa, the Parajas of Bastar, the Santhali called it Janthar and Baihar Horo Nawabai,and Orissa called as Nowa-aani, the Munda called Jam-nowa, Bihara called it Nowa-jam. In Chotta Nagapur area the Ashur tribe which a sub-clan of the Birjhia called it as Nowaa. In East Bengal it is known as Nabarnna , in Tripura it is called Mikatal.
When It Is Celebrated?
Nuakhai is celebrated on the panchami tithi which is the fifth day of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhaadra i.e August–September, the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. It is of great importance for farmers.
How It Is Celebrated?
The preparations for the festival started fifteen days prior. Nine rituals are performed during the festival as mentioned below –
- Beheren means announcement of a meeting to set the date.
- Lagna dekha means setting the exact date for partaking of new rice.
- Daka haka signifies invitation.
- Sapha sutura and lipa puchha means cleanliness.
- Ghina bika means purchasing.
- Nua dhan khuja signifies looking for the new crop.
- Bali paka means final resolve for Nuakhai by taking the Prasad or the offering to the deity.
- Nuakhai signifies eating the new crop as Prasad after offering it to the deity and then traditional folk dance and singing is performed.
- Juhar bhet symbolizes respect to elders.
There is a particular time to celebrate this festival which is called lagan. Arsaa pithaa is prepared to celebrate this festival. When the lagan comes, people first memorize their village god or goddess and then have their nua. This part of the preparations shows portion of elements of both the original tribal festival and Hindu religion. It is majorly celebrated in in the Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur, Boudh and Nuapada districts of Orissa . Several cultural programmes are organised to celebrate the festival in which all sections of people participate.