Nuakhai Juhar Festival - Odisha

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 3, 2022, 11:55

Nuakhai Juhar Festival is a popular festival in the Western Odisha, also known by the names Nuakhai Bhetghat and Nuakhai Parab. The agricultural festival is celebrated every year in South Chhattisgarh, West Odisha, and the regions of Simdega to welcome the new crop of the season.

When Is The Nuakhai Juhar Festival Observed?

The occasion is observed on the fifth day of the lunar fortnight in the month of Bhadrapada, which falls in August or September. It is generally the day after the famous Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

Significance of The Nuakhai Juhar Festival

The Nuakhai Juhar Festival has historical significance associated with it. It is currently in the news because the lockdown was lifted temporarily in 2020 during the festival to let people worship the harvest and gods happily and proceed with the festivities according to the tradition.

Nuakhai Juhar Festival Facts

  • The Sambalpuri festival is mainly celebrated by tribal people living in Odisha as a way to worship the new harvest.
  • On this occasion, people gather and offer the first harvested rice crop to the deities before cooking and eating with families.
  • The word Nuakhai translates to new eating as Nua means new and Khai translates to eating.
  • The exact time at which the festival is celebrated is called lagan and the harvested rice is called Nabanha.
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History of The Nuakhai Juhar Festival

According to the beliefs, the festival has its origins in the tribal communities of the western Odisha in the Vedic period. The roots lie in Panchyajna, one of which was Pralambana Yajna which means cutting new crops and offering to the goddess.

Nuakhai is believed to consist of nine colours which is why nine sets of rituals are performed before celebrating the festival. The nine colours symbolise aspects like invitation, cleanliness, gifting, etc.

Nuakhai Juhar is also considered to be a day of a new beginning by many people. It represents a time to start anew, leaving behind old grievances.

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On this occasion, people share gifts with near and dear ones and seek blessings from elders. The celebration also comprises dramas, dances, and folk singing to express culture, tradition, and happiness.

Sambalpuri dance forms such as Dalkhai and Rasarkeli can also be seen during the festival.

The coastal counterpart of the festival is called Nabanna which is observed in Coastal Odisha. It is certainly one of the most revered festivals in the country representing the values of unity, bond, and tradition.

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FAQs on Nuakhai Juhar Festival

Q1. When is the Nuakhai Juhar Festival celebrated?

The festival of Nuakhai Juhar is celebrated on Panchami of Bhadrapada in Bhadra which is the day after Ganesh Chaturthi. The festival is celebrated mainly to welcome new crop yields and falls in line with the harvest season.

Q2. Which deity is worshipped during the Nuakhai Juhar Festival?

At Nuakhai Juhar Festival, new crops are cut and offered to the Goddess Samaleswari. Similar festivals are celebrated across the country, corresponding to respective harvest times, such as Ugadi in Karnataka, and Pongal in Tamil Nadu.

Q3. Where is the Nuakhai Juhar Festival celebrated?

Nuakhai Juhar is a festival of Western Odisha and Southern Chhattisgarh.

Q4. What is the meaning of the term Nuakhai Juhar?

Nuakhai Juhar translates to eating new rice as Nua means new and Khai means eating. This is essentially a festival to celebrate new crops while thanking the gods for strong yields during the season. The word Nuakhai translates to new eating as Nua means new and Khai translates to eating.