Nuakhai, the amazingly colourful mass festival of Western Odisha, was celebrated with much enthusiasm and vigour, at Ankushrao Landge Natyagriha, Bhosari, Pune, on 15/09/2019 attended by more than 700 audiences. The function was organised by Bhetghat Cultural Association(BCA), Pune. In recent years Nuakhai celebrations have remarkably grown in stature and people’s participation has increased considerably.
Literally Nuakhai means New(Nua) Food(Khai). A day after Ganesh Chaturthi every year, this festival is celebrated to welcome the new rice crop of the season, which is the staple diet of most of the people. By this festival, the dominant agrarian community expresses its gratitude to Mother Earth and seeks bumper crops again in the coming years. As per ritual, the first harvest is offered to Maa Samlei, the presiding deity of the region. The origin of Nuakhai is said to be very old, but the first records of its celebration were believed to be during King Ramai Deva in the 14th century. In short, it is a harvest festival which holds massive significance for the whole of Western Odisha.
This year the Nuakhai celebration was one of the biggest ever. People of all ages with colourful attires had thronged to the venue to enjoy the cultural extravaganza. After the traditional puja, The BCA Ladies Group sang a beautiful Maa Samalei Bhajan to start the festivities. Mr Mahesh Dada Landge, the local MLA was invited as Chief Guest for the occasion. The festivities began around 11 am. This year BCA had invited one of the most famous Folk Dance and Music Group from western Odisha, Rumkujumana of Subarnapur, led by Shri Saswat Tripathy, a brilliant artist in his own right. An enthralling and edge of the seat performance of song, music and dance by the group was the cynosure of all eyes. Nobody moved for 6 hours, except for the lunch, as the mesmerized audience gasped for breath. Other than the folk artists another star attraction was Mr Bankim Patel, the upcoming young singer from Sambalpur, who already has a short stint with Bollywood and Ollywood. Best of the local talents also performed on stage. In between Mr Sanjay Mohanty, President of BCA addressed the audience and thanked them for their huge participation. The 6th Edition of annual BHETGHAT MAGAZINE 2019 was also inaugurated.
If the artists served the food for the soul, the food for the stomach was no less attractive. Chefs were specially called from Odisha to serve the audience with a variety of lip-smacking traditional food with authentic regional flavour. Finally, the function reached a crescendo as everyone wanted to shake their legs to the regional foot-tapping numbers.
Love and affection, friendship and respect, fun and frolic, food and entertainment, everything was abundantly available at Nuakhai Bhetghat 2019, Pune. The audience had a blast, an unforgettable day with plenty of memories to savour.