One of the oldest civilizations of human history, the Sindhi have a rich and clearly distinct cultural heritage are very festive. Their most important festival is the birthday of Lord Jhule Lal, Cheti Chand. Besides this, they celebrate Akhandi (Baisakhi) and Teejari (Teej).
1. Cheti Chand Celebration of the birth of Water god (Varun Devta ) Sai Uderolal, popularly known as Jhulelal . So much has been said and written about it that it would be superfluous to repeat the event. In Sindh the beginning of the New Year was considered Cheti Chand . Some businessmen opened new account books; many however, did that on the eve of Diwali.
2. Sagra (Sacred thread) Sindhi Bhaibands often lived in foreign countries; therefore, their wives were always worried about the good health of their husbands. For this purpose they performed pooja and fasted on four Mondays of Sawan month, after which they perform pooja , distribute sweet rice and then had the sacred thread tied on the wrist by the priest ( Bandhan ).
3. Mahalakshmi’s Sacred Thread (Mahalakshmi-a-jo-Sagro) This sacred thread had 16 strips and 17 days. On the day when the sacred thread was to be untied, it was celebrated as an important day and special savouries like satpura and pakwan of Suji & Maida were made and distributed firstly to the priests and the poor and afterwards the remaining savouries were used by family members.
4. Fasts In Sindhis, generally Mondays & Saturdays, Giyaras or Umaas were observed as fasts (vrats). During the fast of Satyanarayan and nine days of Ekaanaas , only one time meal was generally taken.
5. Teejri This festival takes place in the month of Sawan when married women and girls paint their hands and feet with Mehndi , go on fast for the whole day, during which they used to play games , swing in Jhulas and sing love songs. In the night after making an offering to the moon, they would break the fast.
6. Akhan Teej This an auspicious day. It is believed that any gift / donation given to any one remains with the person for ever. . On this day, it was also customary to send new earthen pots and fruits to priests.
7. Un-Matyo In the month of Sawan , on the Baaras of Krishna Paksha, cereals were changed in food, i.e. instead of wheat and rice, chapatis made of gram flour (Besan) were eaten.
8. Ban Badhri During the month of ‘Bado’ , during the Baaras of Shukla Paksha , god Varun had taken avtaar . In lieu of that small insects like ants etc. were fed Gur (jaggery) and Musti . Married daughters are invited by their parents for meals.
9. Somavati Umaas During certain months Umaas takes place on a Monday. That day is considered important for having a “dumb dip’ in the waters; without talking to anyone early in the morning. It is also, called ‘Gungee Umaas”.
10. Nandhi and Vaddi Thadri Both of these take place in the month of Sawan . On the day before Thadree day, people cook lola (sweet flour cakes) and rote (fried cakes) because there has to be no lighting of fire in the house on the Thadree day. The lolas and Rotes are eaten with curd or pickle. On that day drops of water are also sprinkled on the cooking fire to appease Sitladevi Mata.
11. Janamashtami, Ram Navmi and Shivratri Since Krishna was born after midnight, on Janamashtami , bhajans and kirtan are held in temples till midnight. On Ram Navmi , Lord Rama’s birthday is celebrated. On Shivratri people drink ‘Thaadhal’ with some ‘bhang’ in it, after making offering of it in the Mahadev temple. In the villages and cities, big pots of ‘Taahri’ (sweet rice) are prepared and distributed among all.
12. Tirmoori On this festive day parents send ladoos & chiki ( Laaee ) made of Tils to their married daughters. On the Makar Sankrant day the sun moves from south to north. It is therefore also called ‘utraan’ or ‘Tirmoori’ . In Mahabharat battle Bhisham Pitamah did not breathe his last till ‘ utraan’ since on this day there happens flush of light in Dev Lok.
13. Dassehra Few days before Dassehra there used to be Ramlila program which was attended by throngs of people. On the Dassehra day colourful effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarna and Meghnath were burnt.
14. Diyaaree Two days before Diwali, Sindhis start lighting Diyaas (earthen lamps) from ‘Dhan Teras’ . The bazaars are full with prospective consumers. Friends and relatives meet one another with affection and extended pleasantries and sweetmeats. In the night, Laxmi Poojan takes place when all the members of the family pray with reverence and respect. In the night, people used to take in their hands a stick to which a rag dipped in oil was tied which was burnt. It was called ‘Mollawaro’ ; everyone shouted ‘Mollawaro….. Mollawaro’….
15. The Giyaras of Kati Before partition, on this day people in Sindh used to be engaged in giving charity. The whole bazaar would be full with hundreds of beggars and the needy, who would spread a cloth before them, on which people, according to their mite, would throw money, Bhugra , fruits etc. The jugglers used to arrange their Tamashas on the road with monkeys and bears dancing on the tunes played by the jugglers. An atmosphere of gaiety and gay prevailed all through the day.
16. Navratra During this days devotees of Devi ate one meal a day and did not even shave and cut hair. Ladies sang bhajans . In Nagarparkar they used to dance like Garba in Gujrat.
17. Lal Loee On the day of Lal Loee kids used to bring wood sticks from their grand parents and aunties and like a fire camp burnt these sticks in the night with people enjoying, dancing and playing around fire. Some ladies whose wishes were fulfilled offered coconuts in the fire and distributed prasad ‘Sesa’ ; this continued till midnight.
18. Rakhri During the Purnima of Sawan month sisters tied a Rakhi to their brothers. This day is called “Rakhree Bandhan’. Even the near cousin sisters used to put Rakhis on cousin brothers . Sisters used to come from far off places and towns to specially tie Rakhis to their brothers. There was so much affection and love. Those cities and places where there were rivers or sea, people used to offer coconuts and milk to the God of Waters ‘Varun Devta so that those who were traveling in ships and boats should have a safe and sound journey.
19. Shraadh Just as in India the month of September ‘Bado’ was meant for Krishna Paksha as Pitar Pakhiya. Any member of the family who had died on particular (tithi) day and date, a Shraadh was offered for the solace of the deceased’s soul. The Brahmins were given food and Dakhshna. It is said that Arya Samaj carried out a strong movement against Shraadh, but the Shraadhs continued because of the faith of people since they felt that through this method the deceased members of the family are remembered and all the family members have a good gathering.
20. Nagapanchmi (Gogro) During those days whenever the snake charmer brought snakes, they were given some Dakhshna and also milk for the snakes. Nagpanchami is also called Gogro . It is a folklore from Kutch and Gujarat.
21. Holi The festival of colours in which all the young and old join together to express their joy at the change of season. Some people correlate Holi festival with Holika, the sister of Hirnakashyap, mythological son of Bhagat Prahlad.
22. Chaleeho During the months of July and August a 40 day fast is kept to seek the blessings of Lord Jhulelal