Sanjhi (mother goddess) is worshipped by unmarried girls in Haryana. To make the image of Sanjhi, malleable mud is molded into various shapes. These shapes including stars, moon, sun, face of the goddess etc are given different colors. The star-studded collage is fixed on the wall of a dwelling, facing south, in the later half of the Asauj month in Shukal Paksh, i.e., early October or late September. In some places, the image of Sanjhi is painted on the wall. The art of Sanjhi making may not be sophisticated, but it has a unique native expression and flavor.
This art form is now again becoming popular and finds place in the famous Surajkund Crafts Mela. The images of Sanjhi are suggestive of Durga, Uma and Katyayani. In the recent past, people have tried to keep this ancient festival alive. The presence of intellectuals amongst them has encouraged the rural folk. Their art, which was till recently, known only in Haryana, rural areas of Delhi and nearby areas, has gained some recognition. This folk art of yore has attracted attention of art lovers who, through studio workshops or other promotional techniques, are trying to popularize it.
Apart from the various forms of Sanjhi created on the first day of the moon in Kartika, there are some other rituals observed by girls during the navaratras. Devotional songs are sung just after dusk. Lighted earthen lamps are held by adolescent girls who assemble around Sanjhi. They sing chorus songs, that are centuries old, to please the goddess. The girls, who sing these songs are give money by their elders.
The girls believe that by appeasing Sanjhi they will get a good husband. In one of the songs, Sanjhi is asked about her basic needs — what would she like to wear or eat. In another song, the girls promise to appease her by offering presents. This low key group activity is held every evening for nine days in front of the Sanjhi image put up on walls. On the tenth day of Dassehra, the images from the walls, along with the cow dung used as an adhesive, are scratched and removed. Only the head of the figure is securely contained inside a small earthen vessel whose belly has been ridden with several holes. In the evening, the girls with their respective earthen vessels float their lighted pots in the village pond.
Village lads, armed with lathis, eagerly wait to complete this ritual. They dive into the pond and hit the pots to break them, to stop the bowls from reaching the other end. A legend says that none of the bowls should float across the pond and touch the other end, otherwise misfortune would fall on the village.