A fascinating festival of the Sindhi community, Cheti Chand is celebrated to welcome the Hindu New Year.

          A main festival of the Sindhi community, Chetichand is celebrated with great enthusiasm on the  day following the Hindu New Year, Chaitra shukla Pratipada. In sindhi language, the month of Chaitra is called Chet and Chand means moon. Hence the name Chetichand with which begins the Sindhi New Year.

          As the legend goes, there ruled a King Hakim Mirshah over the historic city of Thatta. Misguided by his courtiers, he  began to persecute people and asked them to change  their religion. So he  became extremely unpopular with the masses. The public, by and large a devotee of Varuna, the God of Water, gathered on the bank of the river Sindhu and fasted and prayed to Him with great reverence to relieve them from their suffering. Suddenly, there were huge waves on the surface of the water and there appeared for a while  a figure like Lord Brahma on the top of a big fish. Between the peals of thunder was heard a loud voice that the god would appear on the seventh day as the  son of Devaki, wife of Ratanrai in Nasarpur town. The new-born child was named Udaichandra who was affectionately called Uderolal. Later on, he was also called Jhulelal, Amarlal, Dariya Shah, Jaljyoti, Varundev, Jindapeer etc. He tried to persuade the king to be kind to his public but  in vain. Jhulelal had to frighten him to make him surrender. Then the king  became his disciple. Jhulelal went from place to place to preach communal harmony.

          The birthday of Jhulelal, considered to be an incarnation of God, is celebrated in the form of Chetichand. A ‘lota’ and ‘jyoti’ are kept in a wooden temple that is called Bahirana Saheb. Songs in the praise of Lord Varunadeva are sung. On this occasion, the traditional dance ‘tej’ of the Sindhi community is also performed.

          In 1960, the Sindhi community decided that the religious festival of Chetichand should be celebrated as Sindhiyat Day to highlight the ancient Sindhi culture, civilization, art, literature etc. It was on Chetichand in 1967 that

Sindhi language was included in the eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

          In Lake city, the Chetichand celebrations start well in advance with organization of programmes like blood donation camps and helping the deaf, dumb, blind and patients in hospitals and jail inmates. At Shaktinagar temple ‘nutan dhwajarohan’ is done and it is followed by ‘kirtan’, ‘puja’ and ‘prasad vitran’. Sindhi language and culture day is celebrated. There are cultural programmes and talented persons are honoured.

          To highlight the secular values propounded by  Jhulelal, the community takes out big processions in different parts of the city. A grand prosession starts from Shaktinagar in the morning that wends its way through the main roads of the town and culminates at Kamlawadi with ‘langar’ and then the ‘jyoti’ is immersed in Swarupsagar. In the procession are attractive tableaus of great personalities, saints, martyrs etc. Also highlighted are social evils and burning problems. There is an extremely fascinating display of Sindhi folk dances and music. Slogans like Aayolal, Jhulelal add to the fervour of the participants. At several points on the route, the procession is welcomed enthusiastically by representatives of different castes and communities. In the evening there is a big Sindhi Mela at Shaktinagar. Processions and cultural programmes are also organized in several other parts of the city.

          A colourful fascinating festival, Chetichand has become an eagerly awaited event for Udaipurites.

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