Odia diaspora: World’s largest ‘Nuakhai Bhetghat’ outside India organised in Dubai

Bhubaneswar: Nuakhai Paribar of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) organised the ‘Nuakhai Bhetghat-2023’ yesterday with much fanfare and enthusiasm at the Aquila School in Dubai. This was the largest in-person get-together on the occasion of Nuakhai, anywhere outside India in 2023.

The event started with a special Aarti and Puja of Maa Samaleswari. The ‘Nua Dhaan’ (new grain) was first offered to Maa Samaleswari and then Nuakhai greetings were exchanged with one another. The ‘Nua Dhaan’ was specially flown all the way from Jharsuguda district of Odisha.

As a part of the Bhetghat celebrations, a rich display of Sambalpuri culture was made during the event by showcasing western Odisha’s language, music & dance, and handlooms. The auditorium of the school was packed with a capacity crowd, all dressed up in Sambalpuri attire. A mini-Odisha was created and foot-tapping Sambalpuri music filled the air.

Sunil Kumar, Consul Passport, Consulate General of India in Dubai was the Chief Guest. He said that the efforts of UAE Nuakhai Paribar in propagating Nuakhai festival were laudable. He was very impressed with the colorful celebrations.

The program was made special by the presence of Yasser Habib, a noted Emirati Singer (who sang Gandhiji’s favorite Bhajan Vaishnava Jana To) as a Special Guest. He expressed his love for Indian culture and traditions. He was visibly happy to have participated in Nuakhai celebrations and expressed a desire to be a part of all future celebrations.

Dr. Swaroop Mishra, former Member of Parliament, Kenya and Maneesh Chirakkara were the guests of honor.

One of the highlights of this year’s celebrations was the presence of noted singer, lyricist, composer, dancer and actor Sarbeswar Bhoi. He hails from Kalahandi in Odisha and has highly popular songs like ‘Likri Jhikri’ from the movie ‘Adim Vichar’ and ‘Pakhana Upare Jharana Pani’. The lure of Sambalpuri beats was irresistible and Sarbeswar was joined by many men, women and children on the stage, all dancing with him.

Sambalpuri songs and dances by local talents were showcased. A lot of effort was put in by several children in preparing for these programmes. The energy of these kids was highly infectious and set the tone for the celebrations. A fashion show presenting rich Sambalpuri handlooms was also organised by a special contingent from Odisha Samaj in Abu Dhabi. A ‘Nabadurga’ play enacted by Odia women folk was highly electrifying.

In addition, guest artists from Odisha Kedar Nath Patel and Manoranjan Patel performed a comedy show which had the audience in splits. Kedarnath, Manoranjan and Sarbeswar, all of whom had travelled to Dubai, especially for the Nuakhai Bhetghat, were overwhelmed with the love and affection that they received from the Prabasis – Odia diaspora.

An important attraction was the serving of traditional Western Odisha foods like ‘Pitha’ and ‘Manda’. A Sambalpuri desktop calendar was also released on this occasion. This calendar has glimpses of Western Odisha’s traditions and culture. Among others, it has images of Nuakhai and Bhai Jeuntia celebrations and also images of the making of Sambalpuri handlooms.

This Nuakhai Bhetghat was hailed by everyone as a long-awaited special event as most of the expatriates in UAE are staying outside their motherland for employment/businesses etc and couldn’t attend the Nuakhai celebrations with their families back home in Odisha. This Bhetghat provided them with an opportunity to mingle with fellow community members and cherish the traditional and revered annual agricultural festival ‘Nuakhai’ in a place that is far away from their home. Many people who are originally not from Odisha, also attended the event and were very impressed.

It is noteworthy that Nuakhai celebrations are being held in UAE since 2014. These celebrations have been instrumental in propagating the rich culture and traditions of Western Odisha on a global stage.

The organisers have promised to make next year’s Nuakhai very special because in 2024 they will be commemorating 10 years of Nuakhai celebrations in the UAE.

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