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 a year. How and why they are started, if one were to write folklore and stories about them, it would become a big book . In fact, these stories are given in various Shastras. Most important of these are given below, many of them are still being observed by Sindhis in India.
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 .
Sindhi Bhaibands generally lived in foreign countries; therefore, their wives were always worried about the good health of their husbands. For this purpose they performed pooja and fasted on four Mondays of Sawan month, after which they perform pooja , distribute sweet rice and then had the sacred thread tied on the wrist by the priest ( Bandhan ). Here in India, the priests have made a show business which costs nearly 500-800 rupees, a gimmick to knock out money.
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 Suji & 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 Sawan when married women and girls paint 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 love songs. In the night after making an offering to the moon, they would break the fast.
On this day new earthen pots of water 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, 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 Sawan , on the Baaras of Krishna Paksha, cereals were changed in food, i.e. instead of wheat and rice, chapatis made of gram flour (Besan) were eaten.
In the month of 'Bado' , during the Baaras of Shukla Paksha , god Varun had taken avtaar . In lieu of that small insects like ants etc. were fed Gur (jaggery) and Musti . Married daughters are invited by their parents for meals.
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" .
Both these take place in the month of Sawan . 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 or pickle. On that day drops of water are also sprinkled on the cooking fire to appease Sitladevi Mata.
Since Lord Krishna was born after midnight, on Janamashtami , bhajans and kirtan are held in temples till midnight. On Ram Navmi , Lord Rama's birthday is celebrated. On Shivratri people 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) are prepared and distributed among all.
On this day parents send ladoos & chiki ( Laaee ) made of Tils to their married daughters. On the Makar Sankrant day the sun moves from south to north. It is therefore also called 'utraan' or 'Tirmoori' . In Mahabharat battle Bhisham Pitamah did not breathe his last till ‘ utraan' since on this day there happens flush of light in Dev Lok .
A few days before Dassehra there used to be Ramlila program which was attended by throngs of people. On the Dassehra day colourful effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarna and Meghnath were burnt.
Two days before Diwali people start lighting Diyaas (earthen lamps) from 'Dhan Teras' . The bazaars are full with prospective consumers. Friends and relatives meet one another with affection and extended pleasantries and sweetmeats. In the night, Laxmi Poojan takes place when all the members of the family pray with reverence and respect. In the night, people used to take in their hands a stick to which a rag dipped in oil was tied which was burnt. It was called 'Mollawaro' ; everyone shouted 'Mollawaro..... Mollawaro'....
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, would throw 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.
During these days devotees of Devi ate one meal a day and did not even shave and cut hair. Ladies sang bhajans . In Nagarparkar they used to dance like Garba in Gujrat.
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 and playing around fire. Some ladies whose wishes were fulfilled offered coconuts in the fire and distributed prasad 'Sesa' ; this continued till midnight.
During the Purnima of Sawan month sisters tied Rakhi to their brothers. This day is called "Rakhree Bandhan'. Even the near cousin sisters used to put Rakhis on cousin brothers . 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 traveling in ships and boats should have a safe and sound journey.
Like in India the month of September 'Bado' was meant for Krishna Paksha as Pitar Pakhiya . 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 Dakhshna . 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 those days whenever the snake charmer brought snakes, they were given some Dakhshna and also milk for the snakes. Nagpanchami is also called Gogro . It is a folklore from Kutch and Gujarat.
In Thatta, near Pir Pitho, there was a kingdom of king Gopichand. Once his daughter Vachhalbai saw a flower flowing in the river. She obtained the flower with the help of her friend. A saintly person's soul lived in that flower. As Vachhalbai smelled the flower, the soul entered her stomach. After a few months king came to know about pregnancy of his daughter and was also told about smelling of the flower. But he knew that no one would believe the story. He therefore, asked four of his soldiers to take Vachhalbai in a chariot and leave her in a deserted jungle, where due to the snake bite one ox fell down of the chariot. The soldiers could not run the chariot with one ox. At that time, a voice came from Vachhalbai's stomach, "Mother chant this mantra and sprinkle water on the dead ox." Vachhalbai and the soldiers were surprised but they did what they were told, and the ox recovered immediately. The soldiers saluted Vachhaalbai with respect and left her in the deserted place.
Over a period of time Vachhalbai gave birth to a child who was called 'Gogro' . When it cried in hunger, all the snakes used to collect there to feed him with their poison. This poison gave strength to the child, who with his power dug up a ditch and produced a spring of water. 'Gogro' used to play with snakes and drank their poison.
One day a Rajput king's caravan came to pass from there. He was dying of thirst. Gogro gave him water on the condition that he must leave seven boys to live in the jungle. In order to save his life king Chawan left seven boys there.
How to feed the seven boys became a problem for Gogro . Ultimately not finding any other way he started taking more poison from the snakes. This created a discontentment among the snakes and a small snake 'Han Khanu' was determined to kill Gogro ; but it had a very little poison. The great snake Python 'Ajgar' gave poison to him. The Cobra said that it is a sin to kill our master. And he said that if Han Khanu killed the Gogro, he would devour the han Khanu . Since that time the biggest of snakes - Python has no poison and the cobra wherever it sees Han Khanu devours it.
Gogro had such a power that if he turned his eyes to the place where a snake bit, the whole poison evaporated. That is why the Han Khanu bit Gogro on his jaw where Gogro could not see his chin. While dying, Gogro said to his friends "When I die you cook me and eat me up." His friends cut him in two pieces, cooked him but did not feel like eating. So they threw the full pot in the river. Some thieves got hold of this pot. Since they were hungry, they ate all the pieces. As the realized soul went to their stomach they also become realized souls and their third eye opened up, through which they could see the future. These thieves were called 'Mamooyoon Fakirs'. Many references are made to this by Dr. Gurbaxani in his poems.
Mahatam Gogro before he died told all his friends not to bite the people without a reason and also told them 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 of Hirnakashyap, mythological son of Bhagat Prahlad. But that is a different story.