Nuakhai is an annual harvest festival in Odisha. Nuakhai is celebrated to welcome the approaching new season and welcome the season’s new rice. Nuakhai is celebrated a day after Ganesh Chaturthi, and it is one of the most awaited festivals in Odisha. The festival is celebrated with Nabanna offering to Goddess Samaleswari during a particular time. Nuakhai is made of two words, Nua which means new, and Khai which means food. The festival altogether means celebrating the season’s new rice harvested by hardworking farmers. The people in the western part of Odisha celebrate Nuakhai with zeal and excitement.
Nuakhai marks the harvest of new rice paddy and people across the socio-economic strata celebrate this festival. People of western Odisha have agriculture as their main occupation, therefore Nuakhai is a very important festival for them. The celebration of Nuakhai begins with cleaning and decorating the households. People wear new and traditional clothes which are made of Sambalpuri fabrics. Once the Nabanna is given to the goddess, people enjoy the Nabanna, distribute Nua or rice grains to family and friends, and offer their greetings to mother earth for providing food. The celebration is followed by ‘Nuakhai Juhar’ where young members of the family touch the feet of elders seeking their blessings.