Nuakhai celebrations have not been restricted to Odisha or India anymore. They have crossed India’s borders and Nuakhai celebrations in the USA, UK etc are now frequently heard of. However, the Coronavirus Pandemic had put a damper on all physical celebrations and most of the festivities has shifted online.
In a first, an in-person Nuakhai Bhetghat was organized in Dubai on 17th September. This appears to be the largest in-person get together on the occasion of Nuakhai anywhere outside India during the pandemic. This Bhetghat was organized by the Nuakhai Paribar of United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Strictly adhering to the Covid-19 protocols, a large number of people participated in this event with great enthusiasm. Traditional Costumes, foods and music & dance were showcased. Home-cooked ‘ambil’ was a hit among all.
A special arti and puja were performed at the start of the event and the new grain (Nuachara) was first offered to Maa Samaleswari. One of the highlights of the event was the communal partaking of the ‘nua chara’ (new rice). All the participants partook the ‘nua chara’ at the same time. This new rice was organized from Village Jamla, Padampur (Bargarh district) and was specially flown in for this event. After that people greeted each other with the traditional greeting – ‘Nukhai Juhar’, transforming the venue into a mini Odisha.
Renowned people from Odisha had sent their good wishes thru video conferencing – prominent among them were Padmashree Haldhar Nag, Noted Actor, TV personality and Chairman of the Odisha Film Development Corporation Shri Kuna Tripathy, Former MLA of Sambalpur Dr Raseswari Panigrahi and Eminent Comedian Jogesh Jojo.
Cultural programs by in-house talents (recorded) and also by some of the artists from India were played out. People from Odisha witnessed the event through Facebook Live. A special guest from Brazil named Grabio was also present. He was amazed by the Western Odisha culture and traditions.
During the pandemic wherein social distancing and lockdowns were the norms, a physical in-person Nuakhai was the dream of many. Many participants thanked the UAE Government for managing the pandemic so well. A physical event like this was possible mainly because of the efficient and dynamic handling of the pandemic by the authorities in this country said many.
Nuakhai Bhetghats on foreign soils lead to the spread of our culture and traditions and such events go a long way in making people aware of our festivals. The spread of our music, language and handlooms will is a great feeling and this was echoed by all the participants.