As Maharashtrians celebrated Gudi Padwa on Tuesday, the city’s Sindhis were busy gearing up for their own share of festivity, food, prayer and music.
The Sindhi New Year, Cheti Chand, falls on Wednesday, and the community will bring it in with a host of musical processions heading towards the sea.
“This is because we come from the region of the river Sindhu, and pray to Lord Jhulelal, the god of the seas,” said Mohini Manchanda, president of the Chembur branch of the Bhartiya Sindhu Sabha, one of the Sindhi organisations in the city that will be arranging processions in the city.
For Manchanda, the first day of the new year is more importantly to be celebrated as Sindhyat Din, a day of remembering and honouring Sindhi culture.
“Because we don’t have our native land here in India, it becomes necessary for us to preserve our traditions and promote it among the youth,” she added.
One of the traditions is Chhej, a Sindhi folk dance similar to the Gujarati dandiya raas.
Dancers, predominantly men, sway to the beat of the dholak (drum) in a ring, either before or during the procession.
“As part of the dance, we sing devotional songs asking Jhulelal to help us cross the seas, since most of us are in the export business,” said Prakash Gidwani, a social activist and trustee of the Purshottam Lalsai Charitable Trust.
For its procession in Andheri on Wednesday morning, the organisation has invited a group of Chhej dancers from Madhya Pradesh this year.
Cheti Chand celebrations will also include a number of cultural fairs in various clubs and public grounds in the city, where authentic Sindhi food such as tahedi (sweet rice dish), spinach dishes and dal pakwan (a tangy fried dish).