Chetri Chand – the Sindhi New Year

Chetri Chandra, also known as the Moon of Chaitra, is a festival celebrated by Sindhi Hindus to mark the beginning of the Lunar Hindu New Year. This year, it falls on 23 March 2023. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the origins and traditions of this important celebration.

Origins and Significance

Chetri Chandra falls on the first day of the Sindhi month of Chet (Chaitra) and is based on the lunar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar. The festival is celebrated in late March or early April in the Gregorian calendar, around the same time as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Ugadi in other parts of India.

The festival has both agricultural and religious significance. It marks the arrival of spring and the start of the harvest season. But for the Sindhi community, it also commemorates the birth of Uderolal, who is believed to have been born in 1007 after the community prayed to the Hindu god Varun Dev to save them from persecution by the Muslim ruler Mirkhshah.

According to legend, Varun Dev appeared to the Sindhis in the form of a warrior and an old man, who later became known as Jhulelal. He preached and reprimanded Mirkhshah, stating that Muslims and Hindus deserve the same religious freedoms. Jhulelal became the champion of the people in Sindh, from both religions. The Hindu Sindhis celebrate the new year as Uderolal’s birthday, while among his Sufi Muslim followers, Jhulelal is known as “Khwaja Khizir” or “Zindapir.”

Traditions and Celebrations

The tradition of Chetri Chandra likely started with Daryapanthis. During the British colonial era, major annual fairs (melas) used to be organized in Uderolal and Zindapir (near Hyderabad, Pakistan). In contemporary times, the Sindhi community celebrates the festival with major fairs, feast parties, processions with jhankis (glimpse stage) of Jhulelal (an avatar of Varun dev), other Hindu deities, and social dancing.

On this day, many Sindhis carry the Baharana Sahib, a representation of Jhulelal, to a close by river or lake. Baharana Sahib consists of an oil lamp, crystal sugar, cardamom, fruits, and akha. Behind it is a water jar and a coconut in it, covered with cloth, flowers, and leaves. There is also a statue of Pujya Jhulelal Devta.

Cheti Chand is a major festival of Sindhi Hindus in India and Pakistan, and it is also celebrated by the Hindu Sindhi diaspora around the world.



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