BALANGIR: With the fear of Covid-19 virus still lurking, Nuakhai has turned into a sombre affair for the second successive year. Balangir district administration has also issued guidelines that restrict public celebration of the highly-anticipated Western Odisha harvest festival.
Collector Chanchal Rana said even though the number of new infections have come down significantly in the district, people need to be careful and strictly follow all Covid protocols in the upcoming festive season. Restrictions have been imposed on social gatherings during Nuakhai Bhetghat and strict enforcement will be made to ensure social distancing norms.
This year, as it is the build up to the festival has been marred by scanty rainfall in the region, dampening the spirits of the farmers who stare at uncertainty. Markets present a desolate look, with fewer people engaging in shopping due to the pandemic and distress sale of vegetables.
The price of vegetables which usually skyrockets to `50-80 per kg during the festive season, this year has come down to `10-20. On Nuakhai, farmers offer the first grains of the harvest to the deity before partaking the food with the family. During this time of the year, family members from far and near come visiting home for celebrations.