Nuakhai Juhar Festival

Nuakhai Juhar Festival is an agricultural festival celebrated in Western Odisha and Southern Chhattisgarh. It is a Sambalpuri festival celebrated primarily by tribal people. The word ‘Nuakhai’ can be translated into ‘Nua’ (i.e., new) and ‘Khai’ (i.e., eating).

It is observed on Panchami tithi (the fifth day) in the lunar fortnight of Bhadrapada or Bhaadra (August-September). In other words, it is the day right after Ganesh Chaturthi. The exact time at which it is celebrated is called ‘lagan.’

This article will provide information about one of the festivals celebrated in India – Nuakhai Juhar Festival in the context of the IAS Exam.

Overview of Nuakhai Juhar Festival

  • Nuakhai Juhar Festival is a festival where the new harvest is worshipped.
  • People come together and offer the first rice of the harvest to their deities before consuming it with their families. This newly harvested rice is referred to as ‘Nabanha.’
  • Nuakhai is believed to have nine colours.
  • As such, nine sets of rituals are conducted before the main celebration.
  • These nine colours represent different aspects, including cleanliness, invitation, searching for the new harvest, gifting, etc.
  • Nuakhai also represents a new beginning for many.
  • It is time to leave behind your grievances and start anew. Gifts are shared amongst loved ones, and blessings are sought from the elders.
  • The festival ends with people putting on many dances, dramas, and folk songs expressing their tradition and culture. All have fun and merriment.

Latest context:

In 2020, despite the pandemic raging in India, the lockdown was temporarily lifted during the Nuakhai Juhar Festival. This allowed the people of Odisha to happily worship their harvest and their deities and proceed with the festivities as they always do. It is likely to remain the same in 2022 as well.

Origin of Nuakhai Juhar Festival

  • The Nuakhai Juhar Festival is an important festival to those living in Western Odisha, and by extension, an important festival to India.
  • Nuakhai Juhar Festival is one of the oldest festivals in India. Its origins can be traced back to the 12th century AD.
  • Back then, this festival was celebrated by the people of Bolangir District, Odisha. Chauvan Raja Ramai Deo is credited for its celebration here.
  • Some trace its origins even further back and to the Vedic period in Panchyajna.
  • A festival celebrated during the Vedic period, Pralambana Yajna, involved chopping down crops and offering them to the Goddess Samaleswari, the Mother Goddess of the Sambalpur District of Odisha.
  • Whatever the case may be, Nuakhai Juhar Festival is undoubtedly an old and revered festival of India. India, as a country, prides itself on the values of bonds, family, unity, and social cohesion. Nuakhai Juhar Festival beautifully represents these very values.

Frequently Asked Questions about Nuakhai Juhar Festival

1. What is the Nuakhai Juhar Festival?

The Nuakhai Juhar Festival is an agricultural festival celebrated in Western Odisha. It is observed on Panchami tithi (the fifth day) in the lunar fortnight of Bhadrapada or Bhaadra (August-September). This is the day right after Ganesh Chaturthi.

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