COVID-19 Dampens Festive Spirit Of Nuakhai In Odisha’s Sambalpur

Sambalpur: As coronavirus pandemic has spread all over the state, this year there is no celebration of Nuakhai Bhetghat, a prominent annual festival that starts here on Sunday.

Nuakhai, a famous agrarian festival, is celebrated for three days in the districts of western Odisha including Sundargarh, Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Balangir and Bargarh.

On this occasion, the younger members of the family seek blessings from their elder ones and greet each other — the ritual called Nuakhai Bhet.

Newly harvested rice known as ‘Navanna’ is offered to deities in popular Peethas of western Odisha like Pataneswari, Lankeswari, Samaleswari and Sureswari. However, such scenes will not be witnessed this year.

In this festival, people working outside the state also return home to celebrate Nuakhai with family members. The festival demands all family members to unite to show gratitude to the almighty for a good crop and favourable weather for agricultural activities. But this time, amid coronavirus pandemic, no such scenes will be witnessed.

Deepak Samanta, a resident of Burla said, “I work in Bangalore but when it comes to the Nuakhai celebration, I usually come back home to celebrate Nuakhai with the participation of his family members. But this year amid COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration will be a low key affair as I unable to visit my place. Moreover, my brother who is in Gurgaon also unable to visit home”

Urmila Joshi, a housewife and a resident of Sambalpur said, “we usually visit Balangir for Nuakhai celebration but this time, we are unable to visit our village. We have decided to celebrate Nuakhai in a simple affair.”

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