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Nabanna/Nuakhai

Nuakhai:The festival of farmers

One of the major agricultural festivals of Orissa, Nuakhai, is practiced among the tribal as well as non-tribal. Also known as Nabanna,it is however celebrated with more enthusiasm in Sambalpur region of Orissa. Nuakhai is observed to welcome the new rice-paddy of the season. It is celebrated as a way of thanks giving to Mother Earth in the month of Bhadrab.

Hindu philosophy and pantheism believes Anna (food) to be Brahma. And since Anna is attributed to Goddesses Laxmi, on the day of Nuakhai, Goddess Laxmi is worshipped as well. The new rice paddy is offered to the Istha Devi of the family and the Village Devi and only then it is used for day today consumption of the people. It is the common belief of the people in Sambalpur that observation of Nua-khai frees them from sorrows unhappiness, diseases and loss of crop.

Nua-Khai is a festival and celebration of happiness, different types of local sweets and foods are cooked. All the family members assemble together. After offering the new rice to the deity, they all sit together and take the new rice, along with Manda-Pitha Khiri-Puri etc. The blessings of the Ishta Devi and elders are then sought. In the evening it is habitual and obligatory to have meat, as it is believed that one who does not eat meat on the Nua-Khai day, shall be born as a heron in his future birth. What ever be the myth associated, Nuakhai is a celebration of the mass. People may stay in far of lands, for there livelihood, but in the Nua-Khai they come home to celebrate this festival with other members of the family.

The Kolha tribe in Keonjhar celebrate Nuakhai in a different manner. On this day they cook new rice in a new pot, prepare fowl curry, brew rice beer and offer it all to their Dharam Banga or Sun God on one leaf and to their ancestors on another. Interestingly the entire process is carried on by men . Nuakhai Bhetghats are organized at various places to mark the occasion.

 

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