Global Odias for Odisha’s Development (GOOD), an expatriate group comprising of Odia Professionals living across the globe has made an ambitious attempt to globally popularize Odisha’s premier agrarian festival – Nuakhai.
‘NUAKHAI’ is an agricultural festival observed by people of Odisha in India. It is observed to welcome the new rice of the season. The word ‘NUA’ means new and ‘KHAI’ means food, so the name means the farmers are in possession of the newly harvested rice. The festival is seen as a new ray of hope, held the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
This is the most important social festival of Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh states, where Odia culture is predominant. Its coastal counterpart is Nabanna, observed in Coastal Odisha.
Recently, Nuakhai has been getting media attention in India. Many dignitaries like the President & Prime Minister of India, the Chief Minister of Odisha etc. are extending their wishes to Odias during this festival and this is widely covered by the media.
But at the same time, the festival remains relatively unknown outside India and among the Indian diaspora. While festivals like Diwali, Holi, Onam, Pongal etc. are quite well known, Nuakhai remains a relatively less known festival.
Of late, Odia diaspora has started celebrating Nuakhai outside India. Nuakhai celebrations are being organized in Dubai, London, Japan and America. And these celebrations are a welcome move. However, spreading awareness about it among the non-Odia speaking population and Non-Indians continues to be a challenge.
With the primary objective of popularizing Odia culture & traditions on the global stage, GOOD members, living in Dubai have undertaken a unique and novel initiative. They have approached Global Business Leaders & Senior Officials based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and explained the festival and its significance to them and their communication teams. They convinced these leader sand enlisted their support in popularizing this agrarian festival across the globe. Video messages wishing Odia people across the globe were obtained and released to the media.
In a specially recorded video message Mr Mohammed Al Muallem, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, of DP World, UAE Region sends out his greetings from the United Arab Emirates and Congratulates the people on this festival. He wishes that the festival brings in prosperity and joy in people’s lives. He also talks about India being a great nation and about DP World’s partnership in India’s growth story. DP World operates multiple yet related businesses – from marine and inland terminals, maritime services, logistics and ancillary services, to technology-driven trade solutions, seaports and other logistics services in the UAE and also in many other countries. It employs more than 50,000 people across the globe, from 130 countries. This message from Mr Muallem is very unique as probably for the first time, a non-Indian business leader has wished the people of Odisha on the festival of Nuakhai.
Padmashri Dr B.R. Shetty is an Indian born businessman and founder of a number of multinational enterprises. He is the Founder and Chairman of the London Stock Exchange-listed company NMC Healthcare and Finablr. He is also the Founder and Chairman of Neopharma and BRS Ventures. In his message, he congratulated all Odias on this auspicious day of Nuakhai festival. He also had some kind words for the Chief Minister of Odisha Mr Naveen Patnaik. He praised Mr Patnaik for his welfare orientation and talked about the insurance scheme which the state government has implemented in the state. He talked about his investment in Odisha in the form of Kalinga Hospital in Bhubaneswar wherein he is trying to do the best for the people of the state.
Being the senior-most Indian Government official in Dubai, Mr Vipul, Consul General of India, Dubai sent out a very warm message. A career diplomat, Mr Vipul, who has also for short time in the Rourkela Steel Plant, Apart from wishing the people on the occasion of Nuakhai, he said that the people of Odisha possess a lot of material and spiritual wealth. He praised the Odia people living in the United Arab Emirates and complimented them for preserving their culture. He Congratulated Global Odias for Odisha’s Development (GOOD) for taking this initiative to popularize Nuakhai at the international level.
All the messages started with the traditional greeting of ‘Nuakhai Juhaar’, giving the entire video a very traditional and unique feel. The joy of seeing such business leaders, senior Govt. Officials and Emirati Business Magnates starting their messages with ‘Nuakhai Juhaar’ in ‘Sambalpuri-Kosli’ language and wishing the people on this festival have been phenomenal. This is for the first time that an array of Non-Resident Business leaders, Senior Govt. Officials and Emirati Business Magnates have wished the people on Nuakhai. This gesture has definitely led to a lot of smiles and happiness among Odia people across the globe.
According to Senior Member of GOOD, Capt. Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, who is the CEO of a shipping company and lives in Dubai ‘Nuakhai is the most popular harvest festival of Odisha and is celebrated with pomp and splendour by the Odia community. This festival is similar to Onam in Kerala or Pongal in other southern states. We in “GOOD “ have been trying to promote and propagate Odisha’s rich cultural heritage to the global audience and this is one such initiative’.
According to the GOOD member, Priyadarshee Panigrahi, who is the general manager of a leading consumer products company and is based in Dubai, ‘This initiative of ours is an attempt to popularize Odisha’s unique agrarian festival – Nuakhai at a global level. By enlisting the voice of global business leaders, attention of non-Indians (and non-Odia speaking Indians) has been drawn to Nuakhai and the traditions associated with it. This will definitely lead to the spread of Nuakhai’s culture across the globe and is a source of immense pride for all of us’.
GOOD Member Manas Panda, who is the director of a large American electrical company, says Nuakhai is a prominent festival in Eastern part of India, primarily Orissa and neighbouring states. In the year of tolerance, it is very nice to see such congratulatory messages from business leaders in UAE’.
Arvind Biswal, A GOOD member who is based at Toronto, Canada said ‘It is a matter of immense pride that we have been able to create awareness amongst a wide spectrum of people not only Oriya expats but also global business and political leaders. This is a small initiative to highlight the people and culture of the state on a global platform and keep our culture alive for our future generations’.
Rajesh Tripathy, General Manager of a large Global Business School in the UAE felt that Odisha’s profile is getting enhanced through such initiatives. He promised many more such initiatives from GOOD were being planned.
Rajat Rath, who is a Finance Professional in a large Telecommunications Company said that it was his dream to see Odisha’s culture progress beyond India’s shores. According to him GOOD continues to work in that direction tirelessly.
Global Odias for Odisha’s Development (GOOD) continues to act as an opinion building/pressure group comprising of expatriates from Odisha Province in India whose primary aim is to work for the progress of Odisha and promotion of its culture. It has previously been instrumental in building public opinion among the Indian diaspora regarding the resumption of regular flights from the Newly Opened Jharsuguda airport in Odisha. GOOD members had met senior Indian leaders like the Chief Minister of Odisha as well as the Consul General of India in Dubai and pressed for regular services from this airport.