CHETI CHAND FESTIVAL

The Hindu Sindhis celebrate Cheti Chand as their New year. Since the partition of India only a fraction of Sindhis remained in Sindh territory which came under Pakistan. Thousands of Sindhi families that were forced to abandon their abode during the partition of the country migrated to India and various other parts of the world. Since there is no state that belongs to this growing community, they are recognized as world citizens and have adapted themselves to respective cultures and continents. The uniting factor is their culture that marks Cheti Chand as their day of identity.

Cheti Chand is celebrated as the most important annual festival by the Hindu Sindhis all over the world. As per the Hindu Almanac it is celebrated on the second day of the Chaitra month Shukla Paksha coinciding with the Vikram Samvat New Year. Sindhi community commemorates the birth of their Saintly deity Jhulelal on this day marking it as their New Year.

Jhulelal was born in the 10th century in Sindh. Although his exact year of birth is debatable, some believe it to be 1007. The Sumras were ruling over Sindh those days and were very tolerant of all falths that were practiced. However one tyrant ruler Mirkhshah wasn’t very tolerant and threatened people from various religions to convert to Islam or face execution.

The Sindhis fasted for forty days and prayed to River God for protection. On the fortieth day they were promised the birth of their Savior child in Nasarpur by the River God. The child born on the day was accepted by Sindhis as their savior in the trust they had in Dariya Shah (River God). This child whose cradle would rock by itself was named Jhulelal and grew up sooner than his age and protected the Sindhis from conversion by overpowering the ruler’s tyranny.

Since then the birth Anniversary of Jhulelal is celebrated by Sindhis as their main festival. Since post partition of India the Hindu Sindhis landed up in various parts of the world as refugees and in the present times this festival has become to be known as their day of unity called the Sindhiyat Day. This day all around the world the Sindhi Diaspora prepare the Bahirano (a dome made from kneaded flour), sing the Panjras (hymns) of their deity and dance to Chhej traditional music in huge processions. The Bahirano Sahib is immersed in the rivers everywhere following the prayers as an offering to Dariya Shah (Varun Devta)

Jhulelal is also known as Uderolal, Lal Saeen, and Khizr Shah and is worshipped by Hindus and Muslims at his shrine in Sindh equally.

On Cheti Chand day faithful bathe and decorate the huge platters or Bahirano with a large mound of kneaded flour shaped like a dome. This mound is adorned with cardamoms, cloves, crystallized sugar cubes and alongside offerings of fruits, flowers, sweetened rice, coconut and a pot of water are placed. Having placed this affront the idol of the deity devotees partake blessings and in the late evening hours immerse this in the river.

Sikiladi

—————————————————————————————————————————————–Published in the Coffee Table Book “DIWALI and Beyond” 2017 by The Asian Weekly:

Cheti Chand article 2017 TAW

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