Nuakhai celebrated in Western Odisha amidst Bharat Bandh
Residents of this Western Odisha town today offered the first crop to Maa Samaleswari, the presiding deity of the district, as mark of gratitude for a good crop and good harvesting as Nuakhai - the mass agrarian festival of the region has been celebrated with gaiety and grandeur all over Western Odisha.
While the people at Sambalpur offered the first crop to Samaleswari at Sambalpur, the people of Bolnagir offered to Patmeswari, and Kalahandi people to Manikeswari at Kalahandi while Lankeswari deity was offered the first crop by the people of Sonepur.
In Sambalpur, Pitambar Ray the main priest of the shrine offered the first Prasad prepared out of the new crop to Maa Samaleswari in presence of thousands of devotees who thronged to the temple on this auspicious occasion. Then the Prasad was distributed to the devotees who waited for it eagerly to receive the blessings of theSamleiswari.
Thereafter, the heads of the family did the same in their respective homes. 'This also an opportunity where the family members get united at least once in a year in spite of their busy life schedule,' said Mr Pramod Kumar Mishra. Ho had to come from Bhubaneswar for this occasion,.
After offering the Prasad, Nuakhai Juhar is another important occasion of the day where the younger pay respects to the elders. They take it as an opportunity to get the blessings from their parents and guardians. "Paying respect to the seniors and parents is really a unique occasion for us." The greatness of this Nuakhai festival is that people of all the religion also celebrate this festival since they feel that religion has no link with new crop. 'Nuakhai is the festival to express our gratitude before God and pray for the future well being of all living beings,' said Ms Sarita Mahapatra, a member from the Christian community who also celebrated Nuakhai like that of their Hindu brethren.
In the evening, Nuakhai Bhetghat is the common thing where cultural functions were organised in different places to highlight the importance of the day.
Considering the importance of the festival among the people of Western Odisha, the state unit of the BJP and other Opposition political parties who had called for a 12 hour bandh call today, decided not to observe it in Western Odisha.The ruling Biju Janata Dal stayed away from the bandh stating that such a call would affect the festival in Western odisha.