UAE: Odia community marks Nuakhai festival with great fervour

Dubai - Nuakhai is an agricultural festival observed by people of Western Odisha, India


Saman Haziq

Published: Sat 18 Sep 2021, 11:55 AM

Last updated: Sat 18 Sep 2021, 11:59 AM

Around 50 Odia expats gathered to mark a popular festival called Nuakhai, which is mainly celebrated by people of Western Odisha, India.

Expats from the Odisha Samaj UAE group — the largest association of non-resident Odias across the region — celebrated the festival by dressing up in traditional clothes, offering prayers, dancing to and singing folk songs and preparing special traditional food.

Called Nuakhai, where ‘Nua’ means ‘new’ and ‘khai’ means eating, the festival is a Sambalpuri festival, where the main occupation of people is agriculture.

This is why they mark the occasion by conducting prayers for the arrival of new harvest and celebrate it by eating the first rice of the harvest with their families.

The gathering was held at Barsha Pond Park, where several Odia families came together to wish each other and seek blessings from the elders on the occasion. It was after a gap of more than a year that the community met — with all Covid precautions in place — to mark the festival with great fervour.

Amiya Mishra, the president of Odisha Samaj UAE, said: “We ensured that all Covid protocols were adhered to at this small gathering we had to mark Nuakhai in Dubai. We were unable to celebrate it last year due to Covid, so we decided to make it happen this year by following all Covid protocols."

"The aim of the festivities was to bond with community members, educate our children about our culture through such events and not to forget our roots.”

Dubai resident Biswajit, a native of Belpahar in Wesern Odisha, said he thoroughly enjoyed celebrating the festival with his fellow Odias and their families in the same way he would celebrate back home.

“It was after more than a year we got to meet our friends from our hometown, and the feeling of being together, celebrating our tradition and culture was so beautiful. We greeted each other and relished some scrumptious food like ambil, manda pitha and other offerings, which are specially prepared as a part of the religious ritual,” he said.

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