The Chaliho Festival is also known as Chaliho Sahib and it is a celebration of the Hindu Sindhi people. The festival remains active for forty days and the story behind it is an interesting one too. The festival is started with a forty day fast and the Sindhis start this in the month of July-August. The prayer to Lord Jhulelal continues for these forty days and after the fast is done through the time they start to celebrate the festival. Then the thanks giving day starts with a lot of fun and fiesta and festivities. They find a lot of different ways to show their merriment and enthusiasm.
Legend of the forty day prayer
The festival is enriched with a legend that the Mirkshah Badshah was a Muslim invader and he came to occupy the place. The badshah was a religious fanatic and used to follow his own wishes in an autocratic way. The people of Thatta were upset by him as he used to force them to convert to Islam. The Hindus prayed to the Varun Dev who was the God of Water and asked for a way out from this situation. They prayed and kept fast during the whole forty days of their praying and then finally the Varun Dev appeared and answered their prayer. He promised to keep the oppressive ruler away and save them.
Penance for the forty days
The forty day festival started by the Sindhis and each year July – August is the time when they start this fast as a symbolic one to the honor to Varun Dev and Jhulelal as thanks giving. The Hindu Sindhi start penance for forty days and they observe some rules during the time. They sleep on floor and observe brahmacharya or the act of keeping their body away from sex. They do not eat fried eatables or white food like rice or curd. The non vegetarian foods are kept away and they do not shave or cut hairs.
Way to worship the Bahrana and Jhulelal
They wear simple clothes and do not use oil or soap for the time. They also keep away from using leather items like shoes or belts. The devotees pray and sing songs and dance in front of the idol of Jhulelal. They sing bhajan or the song to praise the wonder of Gods and other devotional songs. They make a representation of the God Jhulelal in all the houses as Bahrana Sahib. The Bahrana Sahib is made of Sugar Candy, fruits, Poha, Akkho and clove. They keep an earthen pot behind the Sahib and a coconut in it and it is covered with cloth, leaves and flowers.
They also keep an idol of Jhulelal in each of the houses and they worship the idols for forty days. They also offer fruits and sweets to the idol and sing aarti to the Bahrana Sahib. The Bahrana Sahib is immersed in the nearby water body on the 41st day and this ends the Chaliho. The immersion of the Bahrana Sahib is done with a lot of fun and kirtan. The Sindhis always greet each other in a special way that shows that they seek the blessings of the Lord Jhulelal to face and fight all the hardships and challenges on life.