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FESTIVAL OF CHETI CHAND

Sindhi New Year 

Just like Ugadi is the New Year in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and Gudi Padwa is the New Year Day in Maharashtra, Cheti Chand, which falls on the same day, is the Sindhi New Year Day. Cheti Chand is celebrated as the birthday of Water god (Varun Devta) Sai Uderolal, popularly known as Jhulelal. 

In Sindh the beginning of the new year was considered Cheti Chand. Businessmen opened new account books; many however, did that on the eve of Diwali. On the full moon day, people used to go to a river or lake and offer 'Akho' with a pinch of rice mixed with milk and flour. If there was no river or 'Darya', the ritual was performed at a well. 

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According to the Hindu calendar, Cheti Chand is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month known as Chet in Sindhi. Hence it is known as CHET-I-CHAND

The Sindhi community celebrates the festival of Cheti Chand in honour of the birth of Ishtadeva Uderolal, popularly known as Jhulelal, the Patron Saint of the Sindhis. This day is considered to be very auspicious and is celebrated with pompous and gaiety. On this day, people worship water – the elixir of life. 

Followers of Jhulelal observe Chaliho Sahab. It suggests that for forty long days and nights they underwent rituals and vigil on the bank of Sindhu. They did not shave, nor did they wear new clothes or shoes. They did not use soap or oil or any opulent thing. They just washed their clothes, dried them and wore them again. In the evening, they worshipped God Varun, sang songs in his praise and prayed for their solace and salvation. After 40 days of Chaaliho, the followers of Jhulelal celebrate the occasion with festivity as 'Thanks Giving Day' even till today. 

A lamp is lit on a bronze plate, and this ritual is called Jyot Jagan. One lamp, akshaoil and vermillion are kept on this plate . 

A procession is taken out to the river front or sea shore. Lakhs of people participate in the long processions taken out in different cities, with colorful floats, depicting the life of the Saint and other aspects of Sindhi culture. The Sindhi folk dance called "Chhej" is performed with the procession. People go to a river or a lake and Bahrano Saheb is immersed in the water along with rice and sugar prasad called "Akho". It is customary to sing Lal Sain's Panjras and Palav to seek his grace. 

New ventures are started on this day. After the worship of Jhulelal, the Sindhi community display and present their rich culture through dance, drama, music and folk arts.

Legend of Jhulelal

Mirkhshah, a tyrant and a fanatic, forced Hindus to embrace Islam. The oppressed Hindus prayed. They underwent rituals and vigil on the bank of Sindhu. In the evening, they worshipped God Varun, sang songs in his praise and prayed for their solace and salvation. No new clothes or shoe were used. Men did not shave. And finally on the 40th day, the River god spoke to them. 

The answer to the prayers of Hindus was Jhulelal. He was born to Devaki and Rattanchand of Nasarpur on Cheti Chand, two tithis from new moon of CHET. A Punjabi astrologer in Nassarpur called the child Uderolal. Udero in Sanskrit means who has sprung from the waters. The inhabitants of Nassarpur called the newborn Amarlal, an immortal child. 

The cradle of Uderolal would swing on its own, hence the child got the name “Jhulelal” which means one who swings to and fro. As a child, Uderolal performed many miracles for Ratanchand and the inhabitants of Nassarpur. 

Mirkhshah became very anxious to have first-hand knowledge about the mysterious child. Divine interventions always led to the defeat of Mirkshah. Finally when Uderolal came face to face with Mirkhshah, he said, "Whatever you see around yourself is the creation of one and only God, whom you call 'Allah' and Hindus call 'Ishwar'. Hindus, Muslims and other human beings are all His creation". 

Mirkhshah. wavering as usual, was ultimately carried away by the pressurization of Maulvies and ordered the arrest of Uderolal. As the officials of the court moved towards Udero, water started flowing in the court. All the courtiers including Mirkhshah found themselves inundated in water. Simultaneously, fire also broke out.

Finally, Mirkshah realized his mistake and begged of Jhulelal to have mercy on them. Immediately, the fire was blown out on its own and the water receded. The Hindus were saved. Jhulelal was known as the Asht Dev of Sindhis.

 

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