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Navanna


Rice Harvesting in Autumn
Rice drying

Navanna [nava + anna] literally, new food] a harvest festival celebrating the harvesting the new crop- aman paddy. Most agricultural societies tend to celebrate the harvesting of their main crop. At Wazirabad in North-West India a harvest festival is observed in the month of Baishakh to welcome the new wheat crop. Such festivals are also held in South India. The object is to pray for more crops, timely rain, and more children and cattle.

Tribal communities in Bangladesh also celebrate the harvest. The santals observe the soharay festival in the months of Paus-Magh after the winter crop is harvested. The celebration marked by drinking, singing and dancing lasts for 7 days and 7 nights. The Usui tribes observe the mailukma festival to welcome Laksmi, the goddess of crops. The mru tribes observe the chamoinat festival during which they sacrifice hens and entertain guests with new rice. The garo tribes observe the wangalla festival during which they feast, drink, sing and dance.

Rice milling in Dheki
Making pitha

In Bangladesh navanna was formerly observed by Hindus after the new aman crop had been harvested in autumn. An important part of this festival was to propitiate the forefathers with new rice. Offerings were then made to the deities, fire, crows, brahmans and relatives. The host and his family members were the last to eat. On this occasion the courtyard of the house used to be painted with rice paste. Every family of the village used to observe this happy occasion by offering rice cakes to guests and visiting the houses of relatives. The whole village used to come alive with the sound of the pounding of rice and the blowing of conch shells. Everywhere there were groups singing kirtan, pala gan or jari gan. In the month of Agrahayan masked groups of people used to go round the houses all night singing and dancing. Farmers used to buy new clothes after selling the new crop. Today navanna is celebrated by all communities. Pitha festivals are held on the occasion, during which varieties of rice cakes are prepared from freshly harvested rice. Though at origin a Hindu agri-festival, Navanna is now observed by Hindus and Muslims equally enthusiastically. [Mahmood Nasir Jahangiri]

See also folk festivals.