Bhubaneswar: The ‘Festival of Harvest’ is more famously known as Nuakhai in Western Odisha.
The name ‘Nuakhai’ is a combination of two words, ‘Nua’ meaning new and ‘khai’ which means food. When put together, Nuakhai stands for new rice, further suggesting that the farmers in possession of newly harvested rice.
The festival is often compared to Tamil Nadu’s Onam which is also a celebration of fresh harvest and is understandable, of massive significance for the agricultural community.
People worship food grain on this auspicious day which is looked upon as a new ray of hope. Also, farmers offer the first produce from their lands to goddess Samaleswari, to whom the festival is dedicated. Following the Hindu calendar, the day falls on the Panchami Tithi of the lunar fortnight in Bhadrapada (August–September) months.
Nuakhai generally falls during the months of August and September, where it is celebrated just a day after Ganesh Chaturthi.
On the festival day, Odia families clad in Sambalpuri attires in colorful dresses with a beautiful yellow flower tucked in hair. For the celebration of the harvest festival, many groups of dancers gracefully dance to the rhythmic beats of the traditional instruments of dhol, tasa, nisam, and muhuri.