An Old Tradition, A New Use

Nuakhai is an agricultural festival which is celebrated by many and is observed to welcome the new rice harvest of the season. It is mainly observed by people of Western Odisha in India and celebrated by offering the 'nua' to the deities. The word nua means new and khai means food. The people first remember their village god or goddess and then eat the first of their nua. The community of Hetkhamar village of Deogarh district observes the festival with a slight difference. Here, the children from the community gather and go from house to house spreading awareness about preventing diseases like dengue, malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases that spring at that time of the year. They decorate themselves with the feathery Kasatandi flowers that dot Odisha's landscape in autumn and run around singing songs about keeping away from mosquitoes. They have been doing this for 5 years now and hope to carry forward the tradition. Community correspondent Dasrathi Behara made this video to emphasize the importance of preserving culture and tradition. "We should spread the core inner message behind our festivals and then only people will be aware about them." says Dasrathi. In Hethkamar, the recent additions to celebrating Nuakhai has given the tradition a new lease of life. Nuakhai is an occasion that signifies a new ray of hope and what bigger hope can there be than to have a healthy community?

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