The agrarian festival of Nuakhai was celebrated with traditional fervour in Bahadurpadar, Palkapada and Patharla villages of Kalahandi district in the first phase. The festival is a 40-day celebration spread in four phases.
On Sunday people celebrated Nuakhai and on Monday they will celebrate Basi festival with traditional Drum and Ghumura dance of Kalahandi.
On the occasion of Rusi Panchami on September 3, people of Kesinga, Dharamgarh, Juanagarh, Kalampur, Golamunda, Narla and Karlamunda blocks celebrated Nuakhai and on Bhadraba Dasami, Nabanna was offered to Goddess Manikeswari at Bhawanipatna, Jaipatna, M Rampur, Lanjigarh, Thuamul Rampur, Karlapat and Mahulpatna areas. On Mahanabami, Lord Budharaja will be offered Nabanna in his temple located on the premises of Manikeswari temple.
It is widely believed that a tribal chief of Patharla helped the Kalahandi king in a war. Pleased with their service, the king wanted to reward them. But instead of asking for material gifts, the tribal chief requested the Maharaja to allow them to offer Nabanna (new rice) to their presiding deity first on Nuakhai. The king allowed them to do so as a mark of gratitude and ever since, the tribals are allowed to offer Nabanna to the deity first.
"It is related to our great tradition. People pray to god and goddess and it is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate together," said Pradeepta Kumar Nayak, Bhawanipatana MLA and Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly.
"It is an agricultural festival observed throughout western Odisha while in Kalahandi it is celebrated in phases," said Satya Mahapatra, an expert on Kalahandi history.
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