The history of Thane always amazes me which bring me to a new chapter of Ulhasnagar, which was originally known as Kalyan camp, especially made to accommodate thousands of soldiers and military officers during World War II. The camp consisted of 2126 barracks and around 1173 homes of military personals. The deserted camps later became homes for refugees from Sindh who migrated during partition where they started reclaiming their lives. Thus Ulhasnagar came into existence in 1952, with its name derived from Ulhas river, became refugee camp for thousands of Sindhis and is a bustling town which still gives aura of the partition times , totally chaotic with no planned infrastructure . No one can imagine the agonies of each individual, the sorrows and the unseen future that came along with mankind’s largest migration till date that tore a country into two parts.
Sindhis , also known for their business skills , are one of the oldest civilizations in the history with a rich and very distinct culture and heritage. The most important festival is cheti chand celebrating birthday of Lord Jhulelal.
The Sindhi Sikh migrants carried Akhand Jyot from Puj Chalihasahib Mandir Peergoath in Sindh and brought it to Ulhasnagar 5, originally barrack no.1804 , which became Chaliha Sahib Mandir , one of the most important temple which sindhis all over the world flock every year during Chaliha fasting, that kick starts on 2nd ekadahi of july . The akhand jyot is still lit that has guided Sindhis during their difficult times and protected their families. Lord Jhulelal , the guru is worshipped during chaliha following strict fasting rituals. The fasting is tough but builds great strength within the individual through complete 40 day rituals hence called as chaliha. During the 40 days festival strict regime is followed while avoiding heavy food which can be eating just one meal a day , strictly vegetarian , abstaining from alcohol , avoiding footwear and other addictions and maintaining simple life. Its basically self purification by dedicating oneself to the almighty.
The fasting sindhi brings offerings of rice , flowers and mustard oil diyas which is called as AKHHO and immerses it in the natural pond inside the temple premises .
I was really lucky to visit Chalihasahib during the fasting festival. The premises was beautifully decorated with lights and devotional Sindhi songs stirring up the spiritual moods. The devotional songs having peculiar beat of dhol and manjira can easily make one dance. Every individual lit up with bright smiles and colorful clothes , greeting eachother ‘jai jhulelal’ , happy to guide and explaining the importance of Chalihasahib. Long queues for prasad which made no disparity amongst people patiently waiting for their turn.
The simple daalrice and aloo sabzi served with a small piece of sweet was soul satisfying.
The atmosphere started filling up as more devotees gathered up for evening arti with perfect chores . Loud shouts of “AAYO LAAL JHULELAL ” & ” JAI JHULELAL” really gave strong affirmation of the divine presence that has taken care of the sindhi community and of Ulhasnagar.
Credits : Thanks to Jagdish Wadhwa helping me in research .