Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, Aug 30:
Religious fervour and festivities marked the ‘Nuakhai’ festival across western Odisha today people celebrated the traditional agrarian with people praying for peace, prosperity and wellbeing.
The delayed monsoon and the damages caused by the recent floods did not appear to have dampened the spirit of the mass festival, which marks eating newly harvested rice and offering the ‘Nabanna’ (new rice) out of newly harvested paddy crop to the Mother Goddess to seek Her blessings for a bumper crop in the next harvest season.
Primarily an agrarian festival imbued with the rituals of the fertility cult, Nuakhai is an occasion for people across western Odisha to express their gratitude to the Mother Earth for sustaining them and to invoke Her blessings for better productivity in the coming agricultural season.
The presiding deity here, ‘Maa Samleswari’ was offered the new rice while the same ritual was conducted before the ‘Gram Devi’ (village deity) in every other village.
Similar offerings were made at Pataneswari temple in Bolangir district and Sureswari temple in Subarnapur.
After propitiation of the Mother Goddess, people paid their respect to the elders in the family and locality through ‘Nuakhai Juhar’. Others exchanged ‘Nuakhai Bhetghat’greetings among themselves. Various delicacies and cakes prepared from the new rice were also exchanged with relatives and friends on this occasion.
Several community programmes and cultural shows have been planned for the day.