Nuakhai--the biggest socio-cultural festival of western part of the state is normally considered as a Hindu festival but it has got equal importance among the people of Christian and Muslim communities. When Hindus offer the new milky rice to their presiding deity, people of other community offer to their respecting gods. People of the region observed Nuakhai on Monday with gaiety and fanfare.
“Since it is an agrarian festival, farmers of the region offer their produce to their respective god and goddess. The festival is observed across the region in respective of caste, creed and religion. It is a thank-giving occasion as the farmer expresses his gratitude to the all-mighty for a good harvesting’, eminent personality of the region Karunakar Supakar told.
Sources said, people of western part of the region have observed Nua Khai on Monday with much gaiety and fanfare. However the colour of the festival was seen faded this year in rural part of the region because of the draught like situation due the poor rain fall and heavy destruction of standing crop by ledapoka (army worms). But the situation gives no impact on several social and cultural associations that organized ‘Bhet Ghat’ to enjoy the occasion in a special way. “We have organized ‘Bhet Ghat’ inside the premise of Samaleswari temple on Monday evening to observe the occasion, several eminent personalities including minister and political leaders have attended and offered their Nua Khai greeting that followed with cultural programme”, the chairman of the Samaleswari trust board Sadashib Mahapatra told. Similar programmes were also organized by the Orissa Sanskrutik Samaj, Lions Club, Chetna Natya Anusthan and western Orissa Kalyan Samiti to mark this occasion.
On the other hand people of the Christian community have celebrated the festival in many parts of the region. Churches are decorated with flowers and colour paper and people gathered inside the church to observe the occasion. “Since it is a local festival we do observe the festival inside the church with mass prayer and feast. Many of our community belong to schedule tribe from Sundergarh and Bolangir district who observe the festival since a long time”, a church official Sujit Fernandez pf Burla informed.
“People of Christian community of several part of the region consider the festival as their own. They offer the new rice to the god on this occasion. People celebrate the occasion with fan fare and marry making while celebrating the occasion among their family members”, the PRO of Sambalpur disese of Catholic father Alfonse Topo told. According to him churches of the region observe Nua Khai after the harvesting of paddy is over. “We do celebrate the occasion of Nua khai but in some other day after the harvesting of the paddy. We offer the new rice to the god and pray for prosperity and wellbeing of every one”, father Topo added.