Nuakhai Date 2023Nuakhai, in 2023, will fall on September 20.
It is celebrated precisely the day after Ganesh Chaturthi. Determined by the lunar calendar, the day falls on the 'Panchami tithi' (the fifth day) of the lunar fortnight, usually happening 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 sizeable high tribal population, and hence, a great destination to experience the cultures.
Origin of the Word NuakhaiThe 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 FestivalNuakhai 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 begins 15 days in advance - at villages, elderly persons meet at holy places and blows a trumpet to mark the onset. On the day of the 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 the Hindu rituals - it is believed to have been adopted from the tribal communities of western Odisha, but now recognised as the festival for one and all in the state.
The festive spirits are high in the districts of Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur, Boudh and Nuapada in Odisha. Huge ceremonies take place in the 'pithas' (temples) of Samaleswari, Pataneswari, Sureswari, and Manikeswari deities.
Community functions called "Nuakhai Bhetghat" are organised at various public places throughout the state. One can immerse in the local culture of Odisha, and witness traditional Sambalpuri dance forms like Rasarkeli, Dalkhai, Maelajada, Chutku Chuta, Sajani, Nachnia, and Bajnia.
Traditional delicacies add a unique flavour to the season.
To experience the festive mood and rustic culture of Odisha, travelling during the festival's time is an especially good time. It is celebrated in both domestic and community levels - while the festival brings people to their natives for customary greetings and meals in the urban places, the season in the rural counterparts runs through the entire month and is marked by prayers, community dances, and feasts.
'Nuakhai,' is a beautiful festival - an amalgamation of religious practices, cultural extravaganza, community bonding, and culinary experiences. Being a part of the celebration will surely be an enriching and meaningful one - an experience that would connect a traveller to the rich culture and diversity of India.