Nuakhai, also known as Navakhai, is an agricultural festival celebrated primarily in Western Odisha and Southern Chhattisgarh, India. Nuakhai is observed to welcome the season’s new rice. It is observed on the fifth day of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhadraba (August-September), the day following the Ganesh Chaturthi celebration, according to the calendar. This is the most important social festival of Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Simdega in Jharkhand, where the culture of Western Odisha is much prevalent because there are so many things to learn about agriculture with Hunan behavior also, nuakhai is a massive festival and a unique festival also that’s why every Indian knows to Nuakhai History if you love any food then.
Regarding the festival
Nuakhai is sometimes referred to as Nuakhai Parab and Nuakhai Bhetghat. Because nua means new and khai means food, the term implies that the farmers had recently harvested rice. The celebration observed the day following Ganesh Chaturthi, is viewed as a new glimmer of optimism. It is extremely important to farmers and the agricultural sector. The festival is observed at a specific time of day known as lagan. This festival will be celebrated in Aersaa Pithaa. When the lagan arrives, the villagers recall their village god or goddess first, followed by their nua.
Nuakhai is an agricultural festival celebrated by the people of Western Odisha. The event is celebrated throughout Odisha, but it is especially significant in the lives and cultures of the people of Western Odisha. It is a celebration dedicated to the worship of food grain. It is best celebrated in the Odisha districts of Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, Subarnapur, Boudh, and Nuapada.
There was no set day for the festival’s celebration in the early years. It took place during Bhadraba Sukla Pakhya (the bright fortnight of Bhadraba). It was the time of year when the newly planted Kharif crop (fall crop) of rice began to ripen. Even though the food grain is not ripe for harvesting, there are reasons to celebrate the event in the month of Bhadrava. The idea is to offer the grain to the presiding deity before any bird or animal pecks at it or it becomes ready to eat.
Farmers used to celebrate Nuakhai on a day chosen by the village headman and priest. Following that, with the patronage of royal families, this simple celebration was transformed into a large socio-religious event held throughout the Kosal region (western Odisha region).
Offerings of deities Nua
The Hindu priests selected the tithi (day) and samaya (hour) of observance astrologically every year. Priests sat together in Sambalpur’s Brahmapura Jagannath temple, calculating the day and hour. The tithi (date) and lagna (auspicious moment) were estimated in the names of Pataneswari Devi in the Balangir-Patnagarh area, Sureswari Devi in Subarnapur, and Manikeswari Devi in Kalahandi.In Sundargarh, the royal family first offered Puja (worship) to the goddess Sekharbasini in the temple that is exclusively open to Nuakhai. In Sambalpur, the head priest of Samaleswari Temple offers the nua-anna or nabanna to the goddess Samaleswari, the presiding deity of Sambalpur, at the specified lagna (auspicious moment).
Nuakhai’s nine-color rituals
People in Western Odisha begin planning for the occasion 15 days in advance. Nuakhai is thought to have nine colors, hence nine sets of rites are performed as a prelude to the actual day of celebration.
- Beheren (announcement of a date-setting meeting)
- Lagna dekha (determining the precise date for indulging in fresh rice)
- Daka haka (invitation)
- Sapha sutura and lipa puchha (cleanliness)
- Ghina bika (purchasing)
- Nua dhan khuja (searching for a new crop)
- Bali paka (final resolve for Nuakhai by bringing the Prasad (the offering) to the deity)
- Nuakhai (after dedicating the new harvest to the deity, eating it as Prasad, followed by dancing and singing)
- Juhar bhet (respect for elders and gift exchanges)