When you breakdown the word 'Nuakhai' you will get, Nua which means new and Khai means food or eating. When combined it means eating new rice. People from Western Odisha celebrate the newly harvested rice crops during this pristine festival.
Nuakhai is observed on the panchami tithi (fifth day) of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhaadra (August – September) on the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival.
When is Nuakhai Festival 2020
The Nuakhai Festival will be held in 2020 on 23 August, the day after Ganesh Chaturthi, which is 22 August.
Nuakhai Festival Celebration
The Nuakhai Festival is being celebrated in every Hindu family in Western Odisha. At first, Nuakhai was celebrated only across districts such as Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Nuapada, Jharsuguda, Sonepur, Boudh. Mostly in the western part of the country. However, these days are also celebrated in a number of areas of Odisha and Jharkhand.
The preparation of the festival begins at least 15 days in advance. Family members buy new traditional handloom clothes for each one of them. Also, every house has to be cleaned just before a day or two of the festival.
Farmers offer the first products of their land to the goddess Samaleswari, to whom the festival is dedicated. Every family leader is worshipping food grain on this auspicious day.
The newly harvested rice is cooked and first served to the local presiding deity. And then the whole family sits down to eat together. Besides cooking the new crop, a bunch of traditional delicacies are made on this special day.
After having newly cooked rice and other food items, the whole family prays to the local deity and thanks for the food. Then everyone in the family seeks the blessings of the elders.
It started from the 12th century A.D.
The oral tradition of the festival dates back to the 12th century A.D. This festival was celebrated by Chauvan Raja Ramai Deo in Patanagarh, currently known as the Bolangir district of Odisha.
The King knew the importance of agriculture for the economic development of the state and, therefore, the celebration of the Nuakhai festival promoted the agrarian way of life in the Western Odisha region instead of the hunting and gathering that had previously been practiced.
OdiKala is offering a Nuakhai special offer
Nuakhai Bhetghat, Nuakhai Juhar
People from Odisha who live outside Odisha in places like Delhi, Bangalore , Pune, Hyderabad and other parts of the country are also gathering and hosting the Nuakhai Bhetghat(Gathering). Where they enjoy the celebration of this beautiful festival.
The nuakhai juhar, an exchange of greetings with friends, well-wishers and relatives, symbolizes unity. This is an opportunity for people to lay down their differences and start a new relationship.
On this day, people meet each other and exchange greetings to seek the elder's blessings for long life, happiness, and prosperity. Even the partitioned brothers are celebrating the festival under one roof. This shows the kind of unity, brotherhood and bond that the festival promotes in society, along with its agricultural relevance.
On the occasion, folk songs and dances show the local culture, tradition and different shades of society. As the festival has achieved national outreach with the people of Western Odisha staying in different parts of the country, a showcase of folk culture, songs and traditions take place at this Nuakhai festival.
Restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic
Nuakhai is a festival that is being observed with people. But this year it seems that it's not going to be possible because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Restrictions would apply in different areas. Authorities from different districts have also issued notifications on how to celebrate this festival.
No public celebration will take place on the day of Nuakhai 2020. Observance of Nuakhai will remain a private affair and will be performed in households only.
Nuakhai is often compared with Tamil Nadu's Onam, which is also a celebration of a fresh harvest.
India is an agricultural country; this is of great importance to the agricultural community.