India is a land of diversity having numerous celebrations for various religions. Jhulelal Jayanti is the celebration of the Sindhi community commemorating the birthday of the savior of their community, Lord Jhulelal.
Jhulelal is one of those rare ascetic and sage who had been successfully able to bring the two different religions of Hinduism and Christianity together. He is believed to be a reincarnation of the God of Water, Varun and lived around the period of 10th century.
Though the Jhulelal Jayanti or Cheti Chand is celebrated both in India and Pakistan, the date is fixed according to the traditional Hindu calendar. This occasion is celebrated on the dwitiya, or second day of the Chaitra Shukla Paksha, when the moon becomes visible. According to Gregorian calendar, it falls in the month of April mostly.
Legend of Jhulelal
Long back, the Turkish people from Central Asia and Persia conquered the Sindh region, and the inhabitants who were basically of Hindu origin were threatened to be transformed to the Muslim religion forcibly. Mirkshah, the commander of the clan Sumras, gave an ultimatum to the Hindus, that either they should agree to be converted or should be prepared to be killed. The Hindu contingent of inhabitants requested for some period to consider this proposal. During this time they kept fasting and praying arduously for a miracle which will save them from this. For forty days, they neither shaved, nor wore new clothes. They only kept beseeching the God Varuna, who is the God of river to come to their rescue and save them from this ordeal. This is known as Chaliho. After forty days of Chaliho, on the fortieth day a voice from Heaven guided the devotees to the house of Ratanchand Lohano of Nasarpur, where in the womb of his wife Devaki , that heavenly voice will be born on the second day of the Chaitra month, to bring them redemption from the evil tyrant.
On Cheti Chand, or the second day of the month of Chaitra, as the divine voice had suggested Mata Devaki gave birth to a boy, who the moment he opened his mouth showed an old man sitting cross legged on a pala fish in a river. Clouds gathered in the sky and an unseasonal rain lashed on that day. The miracle boy was named Udaichand, as Uday in Sanskrit means the Moonbeams. Udaychand became Jhulelal as whenever he was put on a jhula or a swing, it would start swinging by its own.
The news of the birth of this amazing child reached Mirkshah who called the Hindu elders and repeated his earlier threat. The Hindu community leaders sought some more time to ponder. However the Maulavis of Islam kept pressurizing Mirkshah to apply force and Mirkshah decided to send his minister Ahirio to check on Jhulelal. Ahirio carried a poisoned flower to give to the miracle child in Nasarpur. The moment Ahirio saw the child he was stupefied with his radiance and Jhulelal in one breath threw away the poisoned flower at Ahirio’s feet only. Then in front of Ahirio’s eyes he changed in to an old man and back to the child again. Ahirio was convinced of the child’s divinity and reported the same back to Mrkshah. The child kept performing miracles and then and as he grew up, he received the Guru Mantra Alakh Niranjan from Guru Gorakhnath.
Meanwhile, Ahirio seeing the tumultuous situation of the Maulavis had become a follower of Darya Shah, and upon praying to him, saw the same old man of Jhulelal come up to him, sitting cross legged in the Pala fish. He now understood that Jhulelal was none other than Khawaja Khirz whom the Muslims too worshipped. Jhulelal then appeared in front of Mirkshah in his court and explained to him that Ishwar and Allah were the same and when the soldiers went to arrest him, flood and fire engulfed the court. Mirkshah, afraid, pleaded to Uderolal or Jhulelal to spare him and his people. The Lord Jhulelal agreed and instructed him to build a temple in his name where water will be always available and a candle will be always lit. Jhulelal chose his cousin Pagad as the first Thakar or the priest of the religious community who has faith on God and then near the village Thiajar gave up his earthly body. Both Hindus and Muslims were present to witness this last miracle. The moment he gave up his body, the Hindus wanted to build a temple and the Muslims a Dargah. Again in midst of rain and thunder a heavely voice instructed that the structure will house both the dargah and the temple and will always have a candle burning.
Celebrating Jhulelal Jayanti
Jhulelal, the isht Dev or the patron saint of the Sindhis, ties Hindus and Muslims in the celebration of his birthday in Cheti Chand. The devotees offer the Lord a Prasad of “akha” which is a sweet made of rice, ghee, sugar and flour on this day. Colorful fairs are arranged on the auspicious occasion of the Jhulelal Jayanti and the Sindhi community members enjoy the day with their families and friends. It also sees the worship of Jhulelal with a lot of delicacies as offerings and of course water. The annual fair of the Sindhis at this time begins a fortnight before the cheti chand.