SAMBALPUR: Religious fervour and gaiety marked Nuakhai celebration in Western Odisha on Friday.
In Sambalpur, thousands of devotees offered Nabanna (newly harvested rice) to Goddess Samaleswari at the stipulated lagna (auspicious time) between 8.10 am and 8.40 am.
Goddess Samaleswari was adorned with new saree and ornaments on the occasion, said Ambika Prasad Rai, the head priest of Samaleswari temple here. Nabanna was offered to the other deities on the temple premises, he added. “The devotees were allowed ‘darshan’ of the Goddess after completion of Maha Alati ritual,” said Rai. Nabanna was also offered to Goddess Laxmi at households as a mark of gratitude and hope of a bumper crop and favourable weather for farming ahead.
While Goddess Samaleswari was worshipped in Sambalpur, residents of Balangir offered prayers to Goddess Patneswari. Similarly, Goddess Sureshwari was worshipped in Subarnapur while it was Goddess Sekharbasini in Sundargarh.
Being an agrarian festival, the eldest male member of each family in the rural pockets of the region worshipped the paddy fields, cattle and cattle sheds.Women, who play a vital role in Nuakhai celebration, woke up before dawn to get ready for the rituals which began with drawing of ‘Jhuti’ in the houses. The latter half of the day was spent in the kitchen for preparing special delicacies like Moong Bara, Ras Bara, Suji Manda, Chaul Manda, Kakra Pitha and Kheeri.
‘Nuakhai bhetghat’ was organised in the evening by different socio-cultural organisations where people exchanged greetings with the traditional ‘Nuakhai Juhaar’.