Nuakhai or Navakhai is an agricultural festival mainly observed by people of Western Odisha and Southern Chhattisgarh in India. Nuakhai is observed to welcome the new rice of the season. According to the calendar it is observed on panchami tithi (the fifth day) of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhadraba (August–September), the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. This is the most important social festival of Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Simdega in Jharkhand, where the culture of Western Odisha is much predominant because there are so many things learn about agriculture with Human behavior also, nuakhai is very big festival and a unique festival also that’s why every Indian knowing to Nuakhai History if you love any food then.
Nuakhai is also called Nuakhai Parab or Nuakhai Bhetghat. It is also known as Navakhai Parv in Chhattisgarh. 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. It has a big significance for farmers and the agricultural community. The festival celebrated at a particular time of day which is called lagan. Aersaa Pithaa is prepared to celebrate this festival. When the lagan comes, the people first remember their village god or goddess and then have their nua.
Nuakhai is the agricultural festival of people of Western odisha. The festival is observed throughout Odisha, but it is particularly important in the life and culture of Western Odisha. It is a festival for the worship of food grain. It has its best celebration in the Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, Subarnapur, Boudh and Nuapada districts of Odisha.
Although the origin of the festival has been lost over time, oral tradition dates its back to the 14th century AD, the time of the first Chauhan King Ramai Deva, founder of the Patna State which is currently part of Balangir district in Western Odisha. In his efforts to build an independent kingdom, Raja Ramai Deo realized the significance of settled agriculture because the subsistence economy of the people in the area was primarily based on hunting and food gathering. He realised this form of economy could not generate the surpluses required to maintain and sustain a state. During state formation in the Sambalpuri region, Nuakhai as a ritual festival played a major role in promoting agriculture as a way of life. Thus credit can be given to Raja Ramai Deo for making Nuakhai a symbol of Sambalpuri culture and heritage.
In the early years, there was no fixed day for celebration of the festival. It was held sometime during Bhadraba Sukla Pakhya (the bright fortnight of Bhadraba). It was the time when the newly grown Kharif crop (autumn crop) of rice started ripening. There are reasons for observing the festival in the month of Bhadrava even though the food grain is not ready for harvesting. The thought is to present the grain to the presiding deity before any bird or animal pecks at it and before it is ready for eating.
In early traditions, farmers would celebrate Nuakhai on a day designated by the village headman and priest. Afterward, under the patronage of royal families, this simple festival was altered into a mass socio-religious event celebrated in the entire Kosal region (western Odisha region).
Nuakhai is a cohesive and unified force between people of the Western Odisha living in Delhi, as they unite and celebrate together the occasion of Nuakhai. People from the Odisha now living in Bangalore, Bhopal, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Surat and Visakhapatnam have been celebrating Nuakhai in their new cities for the past few decades. The modern Nuakhai festival, now being observed on the fifth day of the second fortnight of Bhadrava, was unquestionably given a new look of homogeneity and uniformity by various social organizations of Western Odisha, including the government of Odisha in 1991. It has lost some of its enormity and variety with the passage of time, but Nuakhai is still an occasion which endorses the patrimonial nature of the Sambalpuri culture and society.