Author : Mrs. Vinny D. Hingorani
Just as there are innumerable gods and goddess of Hindus, so are their religious days, which are in fact more than the number of days in year. How and why they are started, if one were to write fables, folklore and stories, about them, it would become a big book. In fact these stories are given in the various Shatras. Most important of these are given below, many of are still being observed by Sindhis throughout world.
This is to celebrate 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. On the full moon day, people used to go to a river or lake and offer ‘Akho’ with a pinch of rice mixed with milk and flour. If there was no river or ‘Darya’, the ritual was performed at a well. Even Sikhs went to temples or Gurdwara, because Guru Nanak’s birthday also took place on Purnima.
2. Sagra (Sacred thread)
Sindhi Bhaibands generally lived in foreign countries; therefore, their wives living in India, were always worried about the good health of their husbands. For this purpose they performed pooja and go on the fast on four Mondays of Shrawan month. After which they perform pooja, distribute sweet rice and then get the sacred thread tied by the priests (Banbhan). Here in India, the priests have made a show business which costs nearly 500-800 rupees; a gimmick to knock out money.
3. Mahalakshmi’s Sacred Thread (Mahalakshmi-a-jo-Sagro)
This sacred thread had sixteen strips and sixteen 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 Suii & Maida were made and distributed firstly to the priests and the poor and afterwards the remaining savouries were used by family members.
In Sindh, 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.
This takes place in the month of Shrawan when married women and girls painted 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 lovable songs. In the night, after making an offering to the moon, they used to break the fast.
6. AkhanTeej :
On this day, in the moonlight, new water earthen pots were kept and everyone was offered clean and cool water. The significance of this day was to offer water to the thirsty. Hence at every nook and corner, the sharbat, with pieces of apple in it, was offered to passersby along with ‘prasad’. On this day, it was also customary to send new earthen pots and fruits to priests and Gurdwara.
During the month of Shrawan, on the Baaras of Krishna Paksha. Cereals were changed in food, i.e. instead of wheat and rice, the chapatis made of gram flour (Besan) were eaten.
8. Ban Badhri
In the month of ‘Bado’, during the Baaras of Shukla Paksha, god Varun had taken avtaar. ln lieu of that small insects like ants etc. were fed Gur (jaggery) and Musti. Married daughters were invited by their parents for food.
9. Somavati Umaas
In 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 these takes place in the month of Shrawan. 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. On that day drops of water also sprinkled on the cooking fire to appease Sitla Devi Mata.
11. Janamashtami, Ram Navmi and Shivratri
Since Lord Krishna was born after midnight, on Janamashtami, bhajans and kirtan were held in temples till midnight. On Ram Navmi, Lord Rama’s birthday was celebrated. On Shivratri people used to 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) were prepared and distributed among all.
On this day parents send ladoos & chiki (Laaee) made of Tils to their daughters. On the Makar Sankrant day the sun move from south to north. It is, therefore also called ‘Utraan’ or ‘Tirmoori’. ln Mahabharat battle Bhisham Pitamah did not breath his last till ‘Utraan’ since on this day there happens flush of light in Dev Lok.
A few days before Dassera there used to be Ramlila programme which was attended by throngs of people. On the Dassera day the colourful effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarna and Meghnath were burnt.
14. Diyaaree (Diwali)
Two days before Diwali people started lightling Diyaas (earthern lamps) from ‘Dhan Teras’. The bazaars used to be full with prospective consumers/customers. Friends and relatives used to meet one another with affection and extended pleasantries and sweetmeats. In the night, Laxmi Poojan takes place when all the members of the family prayed with reverence and respect. In the night, after pooja, people used to take their in hands a stick to which a rag dipped in oil was tied which was burnt. It was called ‘Mellura’; All the Males (Gents) carry Mellura shouting “Nado Wado Chibra Mitho” and keep in standing position
outside the homes.
15. The Giyaras of Kati
On this day people 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, keep on throwing 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.
This festival commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over a demon Mahishasur. During these days devotees of Devi eat once in a day and do not even shave and hair cut. Ladies sing bhajans.
17. Nariyal Purnima
During the Purnima of Shrawan month sisters tie Rakhi to their brothers. This day is called as “Rakhree Bandhan’. Even the near cousins used to binds Rakhis. 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 travelling in ships and boats should have a safe and a sound journey.
In India, the month of September ‘Bado’ was meant for Krishna Paksha as Pitar Pakhiya. If 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 Dakhshina. 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.
In early days whenever the snake charmer brought snakes, they were given some Dakhshina and also milk for the snakes. Nagpanchami is also called Gogro. There is folklore from Kutch and Gujarat.
In Thatta near Per Pitho, there lived a princess vachhalbai. One day she saw a flower flowing in a river. She lifted the flower, smelled it got pregnant and gave to a mystical boy, who was named as “Gogro”. Gogro used to play with snacks and had such a power that if he turned his eyes to the place where a snacks hit, the whole poison would evaporate. Mahatam Gogro, before he died, told all his snake friends not to bite the people without a reason and also told the people to consider snakes as their friends. Nagpanchami therefore, is celebrated in the honour of the god of snakes…. Gogro.
This is a 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 Hirnakashyap – mythological father of Bhagat Prahlad.
21. Lal Loee
On the day of Lal Loee children 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 arid playing around fire. Some ladies whose wishes were fulfilled offered coconuts in the fire and distributed Prasad ‘Sesa’; this continued till midnight.