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Cheti Chand - The Sindhi New Year

Cheti Chand is the Sindhi New Year’s Day. It is celebrated on the second day of Chaitra (the first month of the Hindu Calendar). It falls on the day after Gudhi Padwa (Maharashtrian New Year) and Ugadi (Telugu and Kannada New Year). Chaitra is called Chet in Sindhi, and hence the name Cheti Chand.

The festival honors Jhulelal, the patron saint of the Sindhis who was born on this day. It is believed that Varun Dev (the Water God) incarnated as Ishtadeva Uderolal (or Jhulelal). Hence people worship water – the elixir of life on the occasion of Cheti Chand. This day is considered to be very auspicious and many Sindhis take Baharana Sahib to a nearby river or lake. Baharana Sahib consists of Jyot (Oil Lamp), Misiri (Crystal Sugar), Phota (Cardamom), Fal (Fruits), and Akha. Behind is Kalash (Water jar) and a Nariyal (Coconut) in it, covered with cloth, phool (flowers) and patta (leaves). There is also a murti (idol)  of Pujya Jhulelal Devta.

Businessmen start new accounts books on this day. It is considered an auspicious day to start new initiatives. People greet each other with "Cheti Chand jyon lakh lakh wadayun athav". The aarti of Jhulelal is performed and then men perform the folk dance, Chej before Jhulelal. Tahiri and Chole are typically distributed as prasad. Tahiri is a rice pudding made with milk.

According to legend, Jhulelal, was born on Cheti Chand day, to Rattanchand Luhana and his wife Devaki in the 10th century A. It was the time when Ruler of Thatta, the tyrant Mirkh Shah, ordered the Hindus to embrace lslam. The Hindus asked Mirkh Shah for some time to think over the order. Mirkh Shah agreed to give Hindus forty days.The Hindus then gathered on the banks of the mighty Sindhu and prayed to God Varuna to save them. For forty days, they continued the prayer. They neither shaved nor wore new clothes, praying and fasting and singing songs in praise of God Varuna. On the fortieth day, a voice was heard "Fear not, I shall save you from the wicked Mirkh Shah. I shall come down as a mortal and take birth in the womb of Mata Devaki in the house of Rattanchand Luhana of Nasarpur". Even today followers of Jhulelal perform this prayer for forty days ("Chaliho") and celebrate "Thanksgiving Day" after "Chaliho".

As expected, on Cheti Chand, Jhulelal was born to Mata Devaki as "Udaichand" or "Uderolal". As the child grew, he performed many miracles and people were more and more convinced each day that Uderolal was their savior. One day Uderolal was asked to appear before Mirkh Shah. Upon meeting Mirkh Shah, Uderolal urged him to encourage about Hindu-Muslim unity and preached about the oneness of God. However, Mirkh Shah was not convinced and ordered his arrest. As Uderolal was being arrested, suddenly, great waves of water flooded the palace and a huge fire broke out. Mirkh Shah, on seeing this miracle, was terrified and pleaded for mercy. As soon as he pleaded for mercy, the water receded and the flames vanished. Since then, Jhulelal is worshiped by both Hindus and Muslims.