SAMBALPUR: Nuakhai, the agrarian festival of Western Odisha, was celebrated with gaiety and religious fervour across Western Odisha on Saturday.
With rain lashing the district, people chose to remain indoors and spent time with their families in performing the rituals and enjoying the festivity. The Nabanna (newly harvested rice) was offered to Goddess Samaleswari, the presiding deity of Sambalpur, at the stipulated lagna (auspicious moment) between 10.58 am and 11.13 am. During this period, families also offered the Navanna to their respective Istadevata (presiding deity) and Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of Wealth) as a mark of gratitude for a bumper harvest, good rain and a favourable weather.
While it was Goddess Samaleswari in Sambalpur, it was Patneswari in Balangir, Sureshwari in Sonepur, Sekharbasini in Sundargarh and Manikeswari in Kalahandi who were worshipped. Being an agrarian festival, the eldest in each household in rural pockets worshipped their paddy fields and cattle.
Womenfolk woke up early in the morning to perform Nuakhai rituals that began with decorating the house with ‘jhoti’. While children in colourful attire enjoyed their holiday to the fullest, devotees across the region thronged Samaleswari temple. Later in the evening, ‘Nuakhia Bhetghat’ were organised by different socio-cultural organisations.