Nuakhai, a feast, is widely observed in the districts of Sambalpur
. It falls in the bright half of the month of Bhadrab (March/April). The auspicious day is fixed by astrologers.
The festival is intended for eating the new rice of the year and is celebrated across all cross sections of the society. In the morning, new paddy is collected from each household and the rice obtained out of this grain is used to prepare porridge, which is then offered to Grama Devata or the village deity. To mark the occasion, all houses are cleaned and decorated and the people engage themselves in singing, dancing and merry-making. New rice is cooked with milk and sugar and is then offered as 'Bhog' to Goddess Lakshmi. The eldest member then distributes it to other members of the family.
The festival is also celebrated by the Kolha community, but their customs are a little different. The Kolhas celebrate this festival by cooking new rice in a new pot. Then they prepare a fowl curry, brew rice beer and offer it all to Dharam Banga or the Sun God, Surya, on one leaf and to their ancestors on another. This ritual is performed only by men.