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Western Odisha gears up for ‘Nuakhai’ Celebrations

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TNI Bureau: Western Odisha is gearing up for celebrating Nuakhai amid the tension and protests when the NDA has given a call for the nationwide bandh on September 20. Even BJP made it clear that the festive mood of people in western region would not be affected on that day as Nuakhai is the prominent festival of the western part of the state.

‘Nuakhai’ or ‘Navanna’ is all about offering of the new crop to the deity and celebration. The festivity includes some religious rites, followed by social gatherings for fun and enjoyment. Folk dances of western Odisha is the top event to be performed on the eve of this grand gala.

Preparation for Nuakhai begins too early probably before at least 15 days, when the nonresident Odias either sets out or plans tentatively to travel to their homeland and each households starts cleaning their houses to give it a maiden look. Also the concerned committee of learned people from the titular Kings office and Odisha Government’s ‘Debottar Bibhag’ starts the process to sum out the ‘lagna’ and details of the upcoming festival.

Now, two days before Nuakhai people are giving the last touch to the decoration and cleanliness to their edifices as the climax event. Economically everybody from the western Odisha saves a certain amount of money for celebration of Nuakhai. If someone misses he somehow manages to keep the liquid money at hand to be spent on the festival. Accordingly one can witness the long queue at the ATM booths and banks.

It is time now to collect or buy the new crop either from the local market or directly from the agricultural lands negotiating with the owner. The new branch of paddy is the main stuff that is to be offered to the God and also decorated in the house.

Again, as the festival can also be tagged as a food festival, people are on their way to buy ration and vegetable to prepare the typical recipes such as ‘Khiri’, ‘Puri’, ‘Pitha’, ‘Manda’, ‘Arisha’, ‘Kakra’, ‘Ladu’ etc. amongst the sweets and ‘Ambila’, ‘Bhaja’, ‘Beshar’ among the main recipes. Preparation of some of these sweets needs the maker to start the process before one day. Also some women make it before hand to keep it ready to be consumed on the same day. “It is wise to prepare it early as the Nuakhai day is quiet hectic for the women as we cook the celebration food that day” said Mrs. Pinky Guru from Sambalpur who lives in Mumbai these days with her family.

Cultural events are of top priority at Nuakhai. In this context Prashanta Khamari, a renowned theatre director from Balangir said to our senior columnist Himanshu Guru that, “Nuakhai is the biggest celebration in western Odisha and since last few years we are presenting some creative work of art and culture on the eve of Nuakhai in a row.  This time on 22nd September, we are going to present 3 dramas in three hours in three languages (Hindi, Odia and Koshali) on the eve of Nuakhai. “This year’s concept of three plays is a token of our respect to the linguistic unity and the attempt is perhaps the maiden attempt in the whole country” Khamari also said.

Pratyush Ranjan Mishra, a software engineer from Balangir, who has recently started living in Pune after completion of two years in the US said to TNI, “ It’s a festival where everybody expects a lot satisfy their desire in a restricted time and come back to work with memories. It’s a festival of praying Goddess, getting blessings of elders, partying with emotions, excitement and meeting each other in a huge circle without a miss. Miss my culture, miss my Bhubaneswari maa, Samalei, parents, relatives, friends and everybody on the Nua Khai.”

All the best for upcoming ‘Nuakhai’ 2012.

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