Today, on the 20th of September, people in Odisha enthusiastically celebrated the Nuakhai festival. Nuakhai is an annual harvest celebration in the state, marking the arrival of the new rice season. It is observed with great fervor, typically falling a day after Ganesh Chaturthi, and holds special significance in Western Odisha and the neighboring areas of Simdega in Jharkhand.
Nuakhai Date 2023
Nuakhai in 2023 falls on September 20. It is celebrated precisely on the day after Ganesh Chaturthi. Determined by the lunar calendar, the day falls on the ‘Panchami tithi‘ (the fifth day) of the lunar fortnight, typically occurring between August and September.
Where is Nuakhai Celebrated?
Though celebrated throughout the state, the districts of Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur, Boudh, and Nuapada are the best places to experience Nuakhai in Odisha. These places of rich history have a sizable high tribal population, and hence, are a great destination to experience the cultures.
Origin of the Word Nuakhai
The word ‘nua‘ translates to new and ‘khai‘ means food – the name of the festival signifies the possession of new rice in granaries, an event that calls for revelry.
Nuakhai – Activities and Highlights of the Festival
Nuakhai is a festival with quintessentially agrarian roots – the underlying belief behind the celebration is that to receive the blessings of mother earth, one has to worship the harvest. Preparations for the day begin 15 days in advance – in villages, elderly persons meet at holy places and blow a trumpet to mark the onset.
On the day of Nuakhai, the family head collects paddy from the field after offering milk and flowers to the crop and mother earth. It is then offered to the deity revered by the family or the village. The preparations reveal elements of both tribal origins and Hindu rituals – it is believed to have been adopted from the tribal communities of western Odisha but is now recognized as a festival for one and all in the state.
Savoring Traditional Delicacies and Embracing Rustic Culture During Nuakhai
Traditional culinary delights impart a distinctive essence to this season. To immerse oneself in the festive atmosphere and embrace the rustic culture of Odisha, visiting during the festival is an ideal choice. The celebration extends to both individual households and communal gatherings. While the festival draws people back to their hometowns for traditional greetings and urban feasts, rural areas continue the festivities throughout the entire month, featuring prayers, community dances, and lavish feasts as integral components.