NUANKHEI: The worship of new grain

September 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm 3 comments

Nuankhai/Nuankhei is the festival of worship of food grain involving cutting of the first crop and reverent offering of the same to the mother goddess. The literary meaning of Nuankhai celebration is ‘eating of new rice’.

People start preparing for the celebration of Nuankhai before a fortnight. The preparation includes cleaning houses (lipa pucha) and buying of new clothes.

On the day of Nuankhai, early in the morning people worship the cattle, and equipments, tools, machines and all helpful aides relating to farming, showing obligation towards them. Afterwards follows ritualistic puja for the local deities. For example, the Kuilta caste people perform puja at the handisalfor kalapat, kumptipat etc; and they use mahul leaf plate ( khali ) and leaf cup (dana) to serve food and other purpose.

Nuanchara is eaten in different leaves by people of different castes. After the ritualistic puja at their presiding deities, all the family members sit together and eat the nuanchara and take the blessings of elders.

Nuankhai in other Tribes

According to various researchers, evidences can be found of Nuankhai been observed more or less by the entire major tribes in central and eastern India, of course, with a minor difference in their nomenclature. In this context, instances can be given of Jeth Nawakhai among the Dudh Kharia and Pahari Kharia, Nawakhani amongst the Oraon and Birjia, Jom Nawa among the Munda and Birjia,Janther or Baihar-Horo Nawai by the Santal, Gondli Nawakhani by the tribal people of Ranchi district, Nawa by the Birjia, Nawa-Jom by the Birhor, Dhan Nawakhani by Korwa and so on.

Also, researchers have mentioned about the Nawakhani festival of the Paraja, a small tribe found in the Bastar region and Odisha. Santals in Santal Pargana term it as Jom Nawa. Also there are evidences that Nuakhai is also celebrated in Tripura and named as Mikatal where Mi stands for paddy and Katal refers to new.

Saket Sreebhushan Sahu, Editor BENI, Bargarh, Odisha

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Entry filed under: Agriculture, Agriculture and Irrigation, Kosli Culture, Nuankhai.

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