Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur/Bolangir, Sep 18:
The spectre of an impending drought has failed to dampen the spirits of the people or muffle the fervour and festivities that normally mark the ‘Nuakhai’ festival across western Odisha.
People celebrated the traditional agrarian festival today by praying for peace, prosperity and well-being of everyone.
The presiding deity of Sambalpur ‘Maa Samleswari’ was offered the ‘Navanna’ (rice cooked out of new grains of newly harvested paddy crop) as per ‘lagna’ (propitious moment) fixed between 8.20 AM to 8.35 AM today while the same ritual was conducted before the ‘Gram Devi’ (village deity) in every other village.
‘Navanna’ is offered to the Mother Goddess to seek Her blessings for a bumper crop in the next harvest season.
Nuakhai, primarily an agrarian festival imbued with the rituals of the fertility cult, is an occasion for people across western Odisha to express their gratitude to Mother Earth for sustaining them and to invoke Her blessings for better productivity in the coming agricultural season.
Similar offerings were made at Pataneswari temple in Bolangir district and Sureswari temple in Subarnapur.
After propitiation of 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.