Sambalpur: Western Odisha is celebrating ‘Nuakhai’ with pomp and gaiety. Traditionally, the festival is observed as ‘Panchami Tithi,’ a day after Ganesh Chaturthi. New rice is offered to presiding deities on this day. New rice or ‘nabanna’ is offered to Maa Samalei in Sambalpur, Bargarh and Jharsuguda, Maa Bhairabi in Boudh district, Sikharbashini in Sundargarh, Patenswari in Bolangir district and Sureswari in Subarnapur district. Nabanna was also offered to Nrusinghanath in Paikmal, Ghateswari in Chipilima, Bhattarika of Brajarajnagar and all gramdevi shrines of villages across the state.
The time for offering ‘nabanna lagi’ was between 8.50 am and 10.38 am. Those staying away from families have returned home to celebrate Nuakhai. Hence railway stations, bus and auto-rickshaw stands had huge crowds Monday.
The Gol Bazaar, Old Bus Stand near Mudipada Square, Farm Road, Kamali Bazaar, VSS Marg, Charbhati Square, Budharaja, Municipality Market, Bhalupali Square, Ramed Market and Laxmi Talkies Square were crowded Monday as people gathered to buy new clothes.
‘Sindoor’ was offered to 108 gods and goddesses on the premises of Maa Samalei Temple. The ‘sindoor’ ritual took place at midnight amidst the sounds of gongs and the blowing of conches.
Nuakhai is synonymous with celebrations that stress brotherhood. Cultural programmes and ‘Nuakhai Bhetghats’ are held in various parts of the district throughout the day.
After the newly harvested rice is offered to the presiding deities, elders distribute fresh rice cooked in milk (payash) with other traditional delicacies to their family members.