Bhubaneswar/Sambalpur: President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union ministers and others Wednesday greeted people on the occasion of Nuakhai, an agrarian festival mostly celebrated in western Odisha.
President Murmu, who hails from Odisha, said the Nuakhai is an occasion of brotherhood and mutual harmony. She prayed for the happiness and prosperity of the people of the country.
Prime Minister Modi on X shared his wishes on Nuakhai. “Greetings on Nuakhai, an occasion to appreciate the hardwork of our farmers. I pray for everyone’s happiness and well-being. Nuakhai Juhar!” he said.
Taking to X, Shah said, “My heartfelt greetings to the sisters and brothers of Odisha on the auspicious occasion of Nuakhai. May the blessings of Maa Samaleswari bring us peace and prosperity.”
“My greetings and best wishes to all on the occasion of the agricultural fair. May your life be filled with happiness and prosperity with the blessings of Maa Samleswari,” Patnaik said in a message.
Nuakhai is an agrarian festival, observed on Panchami Tithi (the fifth day) of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhadraba (August–September), the day after Ganesh Chaturthi.
The festival is mostly celebrated in Sambalpur, Bolangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Kalahandi, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Boudh and Subarnapur districts.
People worship their presiding deities as a mark of gratitude for bumper crops, good rain and favourable weather for farming.
The first harvested crop was offered to goddess Samaleswari at the stipulated ‘Lagna’ between 10.27am and 10.42am. The priests of the temple commenced the ceremony in the morning as per the prevailing tradition and ritual. Goddess Samaleswari was adorned with a new saree and ornaments.
Thousand of devotees thronged the temple of the presiding deity of the region to seek blessings on the occasion of Nuakhai. The devotees were allowed to visit the Samaleswari temple from 12.30pm to 5.30pm, said president of Samaleswari Temple Trust Board Sanjaya Babu.
People also observed Nuakhai in their respective homes. Farmers offered the first crop of the year to the household deity on this occasion. The head of the family worships the household deity and offer rice and other food items.
The head of the family then distributes the prasad among the family members. Even people, who work outside, also come back home during Nuakhai to celebrate the festival with family.
Various traditional dishes including Mug Bara, Ras Bara, Mug Mada, Suji Mada, Chaul Mada, Kakra Pitha, Kheeri are prepared during the occasion.
Apart from the rituals of offering the crop to the deity, ‘Nuakhai Juhar’ is a major ritual of the festival. The elders are wished ‘Nuakhai Juhar’ and they give blessings for long life, happiness and prosperity. However, Nuakhai Bhetghat (the social get-together to greet each other) is organised in grand ways at many places.
Nuakhai in Western Odisha is not a festival of any particular group, caste or creed. It is a festival celebrated by all people of the region. The festival promotes harmony, help, cooperation and equality. Earlier, Nuakhai was observed on different days in different places. But since 1992, people have been celebrating the festival on the same day, said city-based writer Deepak Panda.