Sanjha : the Goddess, the friend

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Sanjha, as the name signifies in hindi, implies evening time. It is when the sun bids “au revoir” for the day, that young maidens gather around the ramparts of their modest lodgings and sing and celebrate sanjha.

Sanjha, an art typical of Malwa

Young girls in India are conditioned right from childhood into drawing rangoli, mandna, mehndi, mahavar, etc. on any joyous occasion, be it a family gathering or a religious festival.  Sanjha is one such festival celebrated during the 16 days of Shraddh Paksh.
Especially prevalent in the Malwa-Nimar belt of India, Goddess Sanjha’s festival is celebrated by unmarried girls. Sanjha is another form of goddess Durga but rather than treated as a deity, she is treated as a friend. According to the Hindu calendar, during the 16 days of shraadh paksh, young unmarried girls draw sanjha drawings on the walls outside their houses. Made from cow-dung and decorated with flower petals and bright tin foils (panni in hindi), these girls draw the sun, the moon, Ganesha, women working in the kitchen, elephant head, crow, other human forms etc.
Sanjha remains on their walls throughout the day. In the evening these young girls (and women too) gather around their designs and sing sanjha songs and hymns. The evening ends with the distribution of prasad. The next morning the walls are wiped clean and a new sanjha is created. The sun and the moon are repeated but other graphics change daily. Celebrations continue for the entire period of 15 days of shraadh paksh.  On the 16th day , sarvapitra amavasya, sanjha, the goddess is bid adieu. The entire neighborhood comes together in organizing a sumptuous meal for which money is voluntarily donated.

These sanjha drawings illustrate the vivid imagination of young Malwa girls. Legend has it that all wishes of these young maidens come true if they make sanjha during this 16 day period. Girls develop social and artistic skills and a better understanding of their intrinsic culture and tradition.

Sanjha, made with cow-dung, flowers and tin foils

Lest the art be forgotten in this technology-driven era, the local government encourages the practice of this art by organizing competitions during this period. One such competition organized locally on 7th October 2012, saw 103 entries depicting the enthusiasm and creativity of young Malwa girls.

Shraddh (or pitr paksh)
In Hindu Mythology every ritual has its own importance. Pitr paksh or Shraddh paksh is the period that falls between the 10 days of Lord Ganesh and 10 days of Durga Navratri. It is performed to pay homage to ones’ ancestors. It is believed that our offerings reach our ancestors directly and they attain peace and salvation by our rites.

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Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...