Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/Dubai, Jan 15:
The Western Odisha Community of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) organised Puspuni Celebrations at Dubai on Friday. The star attraction at this year’s celebrations was Loka Kabi Padma Shri Haladhar Nag, the noted Sambalpuri – Kosli poet.
‘PUSPUNI’ is an annual festival observed by the people of Western Odisha. This festival is observed on the Puni (Full Moon in English) day of the Month of Pus (Pausha in Sanskrit). It derives its origin from the age-old agrarian culture of the land. Basically, it is an annual occasion wherein the farmer families celebrate their annual harvest of paddy. It has given rise to a great tradition of celebration by other communities too. People of Western Odisha, irrespective of their economic occupation feast, sing and dance and rejoice in giving away on this day.
The day long celebrations were held at an outdoor venue, the Al Barsha Pond Park in Dubai. Since morning, Non Resident Odiyas (NROs) of UAE gathered in large numbers at the venue to join the celebrations. People were dressed in traditional Sambalpuri attire and popular Sambalpuri songs rent the air. Many games for adults and kids were organised. A special painting competition for children was also conducted. A sumptuous Puspuni Lunch with traditional foods (some flown in all the way from Odisha) was served to all the revellers.
In the afternoon, Padma Shri Haladhar Nag was felicitated by senior members of the Western Odisha Community. He was also presented with a life like portrait drawn by a budding artist of the community. The atmosphere became electric when Padma Shri Haladhar Nag took the stage. His poetry enthralled the audience and his earthy wit and humour established an immediate connect with the people. Shri Nag was very happy that festivals like Nuakhai and Puspuni were being celebrated in the UAE. He recalled that ‘Rangabati’ singer Shri JitendraHaripal was invited to Dubai for Nuakhai – 2016 celebrations and expressed his immense happiness on being invited for the Puspuni celebrations. Author and Lecturer Sushanta Mishra who accompanied the poet on this trip was also felicitated at the event.
In the evening, the Western Odisha Community organised a program called ‘Aroma of literature: An evening with Haladhar Nag’. Literature and poetry lovers graced the occasion and were treated to some fabulous poetry by the legendary poet. Shri Nag recited many poems written by him like ‘Koshal Bandana’, ‘PremPaechan’, ‘Urmila’ etc. Applauding frequently, the audience was spellbound and listened to him in rapt attention.
Nag’s companion, Sushanta Mishra described the decision of the community to organise Nag’s first foreign trip and honour him as a historical step.
Post this, an interactive question and answer session was organised with the poet. The enthusiastic audience also celebrated Loka KabiHaladhar Nag’s birthday in advance.
Notably, Nuakhai Bhetghat – 2016, organised on October 7 in UAE by the Western Odisha Community, was probably the largest Nuakhai Bhetghat ever organised on foreign soil. It featured ‘Rangabati’ singer JitendraHaripal’s first performance outside India.
Similarly, Puspuni-2017 celebrations saw participation by the living legend – LokaKabi Padma ShriHaladhar Nag. This was also Shri Nag’s first trip outside India.
The Western Odisha Community of UAE feels proud to have been able to make some attempts to successfully showcase the culture, language and traditions of Western Odisha to the World. It shall always be its endeavour to make more efforts in this direction in the future.