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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cheti Chand- A Sindhi New Year

A lot has changed over the years. 

Morning I called upon my neighbor to wish her ‘a Happy New Year’..Well! There was not much sign of the celebrations of Cheti Chand in a Sindhi house. Celebrating Sindhi festivals have narrowed down to attending a Sindhi Mela, (community festival) in the evening, where there are cultural shows and traditional food on sale, but other than that there is no sign of celebration in any homes.

Cheti Chand is the important festival in Sindhi home (or rather it used to be during my growing up days)

I used to wake up to the traditional hymn devoted to Lord JhuleLal during early hours. There used to be fragrance of sweetened rice and cooked Chana in the kitchen. Early morning Mom used to make preparation to go to temple and offer her prayers by making bharano Chej.

At the temple, she and other women would make molds from flour dough shaping one mold in round shaped base for large crystalized sugar, decorated with silver edible foil and dry fruits while another dough molded into a shape of lamp with the stuffing of cloves and cardamom on its side and pure ghee with a wick for used for lighting the lamp. These molds along with sweetened rice, cooked Chana, fruits, biscuits, flowers, vermillion and few coins were placed in a big tray. She would place the tray on her head and turn 360 degrees, offering her prayers to Jhulelal. Later she and other ladies would go to the seashore to feed the fishes. They would sing Lal Sain’s Panjaras and Palav to seek His grace

Not many youngsters do observe this ritual any more. Like Sindhi language, Sindhi traditions are gradually fading too. Not many are aware of the story behind it.

Cheti Chand is celebrated on the first day of Chaitra month known as Chet in Sindhi. It is celebrated in the honor of the birth of Ishtadeva Uderolal, popularly known as Jhulelal, the patron saint of Sindhis. On this day, people worship water- the elixir of life. Followers of Jhulelal observed Chaliho Sahab that meant that for forty long days and nights, they underwent rituals and vigil on the bank of Sindhu. Fasting meant, no new clothes, no shoes, no shaving, no use of soap. The clothes were just rinsed and worn. Days were spent offering prayers to God Varun seeking solace and salvation. After 40 days of Chaaliho, the followers of Jhulelal celebrated the occasion with festivity as ‘Thanks Giving Day’ During the festival there used to be long procession and Sindhi folk dance called ‘Chej’ was performed during the procession.

However, thanks to Sindhi community who do try their best to keep their culture and tradition alive. After 65 years of migrations, with Sindhis scattered all over the world, many communities around the world do make an effort to keep the tradition going. New ventures are started, children are encouraged to participate in the cultural shows and a special delicious traditional Sindhi Cuisine is cooked in some houses even till this day.

Wishing all my visitors a ‘Happy New Year’

Happy to share the recipe of ‘Sweetened Rice’ called ‘Tehri’ from page no 123 in my book on #SindhiCuisine

Ingredients:

2 cups rice
1cup sugar
2tbsp Ghee
A pinch of saffron thread
2green Cardamom
5Almonds
4-5 raisins
2tbsp fresh coconut, cut into strips
Salt to taste


Method:

1.   Cook rice in one cup of water and very little salt, cardamom and saffron. 
2.   When rice is half cooked, add sugar and ghee and cook till tender.
3.   Garnish with almonds, raisins and coconut strips.
4.   Serve hot with papad and yogurt.

5.   Alternatively you could also serve with spicy cooked Kara Chana.

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