Cheti Chand

Cheti Chand (चेटी चन्ड) is a festival which marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year for the Sindhi Hindus. The festival date is based on the lunar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, it being the first day of the year and the Sindhi month of Chet (Chaitra). It typically falls in late March or early April in the Gregorian calendar on or about the same day as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Ugadi in other parts of the Deccan region of India.

 The festival marks the arrival of spring and harvest, but in Sindhi community it also marks the birth of Uderolal in year 1007, after they prayed to Hindu god Varuna to save them from the persecution by tyrannical Muslim ruler named Mirkhshah. Uderolal morphed into a warrior and old man who preached and reprimanded Mirkhshah that Muslims and Hindus deserve the same religious freedoms. He, as Jhulelal, became the champion of the people in Sindh, from both religions. Among his Sufi Muslim followers, Jhulelal is known as “Khwaja Khizir” or “Sheikh Tahit”. The Hindu Sindhi, according to this legend, celebrate the new year as Uderolal’s birthday.

The tradition likely started with Daryapanthis. During the British colonial rule era, major annual fairs (melas) used to be held in Uderolal and Zindapir (near Hyderabad, Pakistan). In contemporary times, the Sindhi community celebrates the festival of Cheti Chand with major fairs, feast parties, processions with jhankis (glimpse stage) of Jhulelal (an avatar of Vishnu, similar to Vithoba), other Hindu deities, and social dancing.On this day, many Sindhis take Baharana Sahib to a nearby river or lake. Baharana Sahib consists of Jyot (oil lamp), Misiri (crystal sugar), Fota (cardamom), Fal (fruits), and Akha. Behind is Kalash (water jar) and a Nariyal (coconut) in it, covered with cloth, phool (flowers) and patta (leaves).[citation needed] There is also a Murti (statue) of Pujya Jhulelal Devta. It has been a major festival of Sindhis in India and Pakistan, one also celebrated by the Sindhi diaspora around the world.

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