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Orissa celebrates harvest festival 'Nuakhai'
Bhubaneswar | September 16, 2007 8:05:06 PM IST
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Millions of people in Orissa Sunday offered the first crop of the season to their presiding deities in celebration of the harvest festival of 'Nuakhai' that spreads the message of goodwill and brotherhood.

People celebrated the festival in western Orissa to welcome the first crop of the season in their fields and offered the new yield to gods and goddesses and also worshipped cattle.

After offering it to their presiding deities, the worshippers from different castes and communities ate the offerings called 'nua' (new).

The festival was celebrated in Sambalpur, Bolangir, Bargarh, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Nawapara, Phulbani, Raigada, Subarnapur and Sundergarh districts.

"In Sambalpur, people offered prayer at Samaleswari temple in the morning and offered the presiding deity, Sameleswari, their new harvest," priest of the temple Pitambar Ray told IANS.

In Bolangir and Subarnapur, people also made offerings at the temples of Patmeswari and Sureswari.

As a tradition, the senior most member of the family distributes the 'nabarna' (rice cooked from the new grain) to the rest of the members. Thereafter, people greet each other, which is known as (Nuakhai Juhar).

"Nuakhai Juhar is a solemn occasion when people are asked to forget enmity, vanity and ego. People put aside their disputes and celebrate the festival on this day," noted Oriya writer Narayan Prusteth told IANS.

"The aim of the festival is to express man's gratitude to nature and reverence to god for supply of food," he said.

"In other parts of the country, the festival is organised after the harvest, but here we observe it before the harvest since we like to welcome the new crop and worship the deities before the produce is used by men, animal and birds," he said. (IANS)

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