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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, Sep 5:

The stage is all set for the famous agrarian festival of Western Odisha—Nuakhai—which would be celebrated tomorrow with fervour and gaiety.

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On this auspicious day, the presiding deities ‘Maa Samaleswari’ in Sambalpur, ‘Manikeswari’ in Kalahandi, ‘Pataneswari’ in Bolangir, ‘Sureshwari’ in Sonepur and ‘Sekharbasini’ in Sundargarh are offered the ‘Navanna’ (rice cooked out of new grains of newly harvested paddy crop) as per ‘lagna’ (propitious moment) fixed. This year, the ‘Navanna’ will be offered to Goddess Samaleswari between 9.05 am and 9.19 am tomorrow.

Notably, the same ritual is 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.

After propitiation of Mother Goddess, people pay their respect to the elders in the family and locality through ‘Nuakhai Juhar’. Similarly, ‘Nuakhai Bhetghat’greetings are also exchanged among themselves. Various delicacies and cakes prepared from the new rice are also exchanged with relatives and friends on this occasion.

Several community programmes and cultural shows are also organised for the day.

The roads were chock-a-block as people drenched in festive fervour were seen shopping to their heart’s content despite inclement weather conditions.