These are the four popular tragic romances of the Punjab.
Heer Ranjha is one of the four popular tragic romances of the Punjab. The other three are Mirza Sahiba, Sassi Punnun and Sohni Mahiwal. There are several poetic narrations of the story, the most famous being 'Heer' by Waris Shah written in 1766. It tells the story of the love of Heer and her lover Ranjha. The other poetic narrations were written by Damodar Daas, Mukbaz and Ahmed Gujjar among others.
The invocation at the beginning
(The legends of the Panjab by RC Temple - Introduction by Kartar Singh Duggal published by Rupa and company Ė Volume two -Page 606 ) Rag Hir Ranjha
ďAbbal Naun Allah da lena duja dos Muhammad Miran:
tija naun mat pita da lena , unha da chunga dudh sariran:
Chautha naun an pani da lena , jis khave man banhe dhiran :
Panjman naun Dharti Mata da lena ,:jis par kadam takiman:
Chhewan naun Khwaja Pir da lena,Jhul pilave thande niran :
Satwan naun Guru Gorakhnath de lena , patal puje bhojan :
Athwan naun lalanwale da lena, bande bande de tabaq janjiran
Firstly , I take the name of God ;secondly , of the Great Muhammad , the friend (of God):
Thirdly , I takethe name of father and mother , on whose milk my body throve:
Fourthly ,I take the name of bread and water , from eating which my heart is gladdened :
Fifthly I take the name of Mother Earth , on whom I place my feat .
Sixthly , I take the name of Khwaja (Khazir), the Saint , that gives me cold water to drink:
Seventhly , I take the name of Guru Gorakh(Nath)whom I worship with a platter of milk and rice :
Eightly , I take the name of Lalanwala (*1) that breaketh the bonds and the chains of the captives(*2)
Heer Saleti is an extremely beautiful woman, born into a wealthy Jatt family of the Sayyal clan. Ranjha (whose first name is Dheedo; Ranjha is the surname), also a Jatt, is the youngest of four brothers and lives in the village 'Takht Hazara' by the river Chenab. Being his father's favorite son, unlike his brothers who had to toil in the lands, he led a life of ease playing the flute ('Wanjhli'/'Bansuri'). After a quarrel with his brothers over land, Ranjha leaves home. In Waris Shah's version of the epic, it is said that Ranjha left his home because his brothers' wives refused to give him food. Eventually he arrives in Heer's village and falls in love with her. Heer offers Ranjha a job as caretaker of her father's cattle. She becomes mesmerised by the way Ranjha plays his flute and eventually falls in love with him. They meet each other secretly for many years until they are caught by Heer's jealous uncle, Kaido, and her parents Chuchak and Malki. Heer is forced by her family and the local priest or 'mullah' to marry another man called Saida Khera.
Ranjha is heartbroken. He is left to walk the quiet villages on his own until eventually he meets a 'Jogi' (ascetic). After meeting Baba Gorakhnath, the founder of the "Kanphata"(pierced ear) sect of ascetics('Jogis'), at 'Tilla Jogian' (the 'Hill of Ascetics', located 50 miles north of the historic town of Bhera, Sargodha District, Punjab (Pakistan)), Ranjha voluntarily becomes a Jogi, piercing his ears and renouncing the material world. Reciting the name of the Lord, "Alakh Niranjan", on his travels around the Punjab, he eventually finds the village where he is reunited with Heer.
The two return to Heer's village, where Heer's parents agree to their marriage. However, on the wedding day, Heer's jealous uncle Kaido poisons her food so that the wedding will not take place. Hearing this news, Ranjha rushes to aid Heer, but he is too late, as she has already eaten the poison and died. Brokenhearted once again, Ranjha takes the poisoned Laddu (sweet) which Heer has eaten and dies by her side.
Heer and Ranjha are buried in a Punjabi town in Pakistan called Jhang, Punjab. Lovers and others often pay visits to their mausoleum.
Waris Shah's version
It is believed that the story of Heer and Ranjha had a happy ending but Waris Shah gave it the sad ending described above, thereby making it the legendary status it now enjoys. It is argued by Waris Shah in the beginning of his version that the story of Heer and Ranjha has a deeper connotation - the relentless quest of man (humans) for God.
Mirza-Sahiban, a love-lore is a treasure of Punjabi literature. It is a romantic tragedy. Sahiban was another love-lorn soul. Shayer Pillo raves about her beauty and says," As Sahiban stepped out with a lungi tied around her waist, the nine angels died on seeing her beauty and God started counting his last breath..."
Mirza and Sahiban who were cousins and childhood playmates, fell in love with each other. But when this beauty is about to be wedded forcibly to Tahar Khan by her parents, without any hesitation she sends a taunting message to Mirza, whom she loves, to his village Danabad, through a Brahmin called Kammu.
"You must come and decorate Sahibanís hand with the marriage henna."
Mirza Khan was the son of Wanjhal Khan, the leader of the Kharal tribe in Danabad, a town in the Jaranwala area of Faisalabad. Sahiba was the daughter of Mahni, the chief of Khewa, a town in Sial Territory in the Jhang district.
This is the time you have to protect your self respect and love, keep your promises, and sacrifice your life for truth. Mirza who was a young full-blooded man, makes Sahiba sit on his horse and rides away with her. But on the way, as he lies under the shade of a tree to rest for a few moments, the people who were following them on horseback with swords in their hands catch up with them.
Sahiba was a virtuous and a beautiful soul who did not desire any bloodshed to mar the one she loved. She did not want her hands drenched in blood instead of henna. She thinks Mirza cannot miss his target, and if he strikes, her brothers would surely die. Before waking up Mirza, Sahiban breaks his arrows so he can't use them. She presumes on seeing her, her brothers would feel sorry and forgive Mirza and take him in their arms. But the brothers attack Mirza and kill him. Sahiban takes a sword and slaughters herself and thus bids farewell to this world.
Innumerable folk songs of Punjab narrate the love tale of Sassi and Punnu. The women sing these songs with great emotion and feeling, as though they are paying homage to Sassi with lighted on her tomb. It is not the tragedy of the lovers. It is the conviction of the heart of the lovers. It is firmly believed that the soil of the Punjab has been blessed. God has blessed these lovers to. Though there love ended in death, death was a blessing in disguise, for this blessing is immortalized.
Waris shah who sings the tale of Heer elevates mortal love to the same pedestal as spiritual love for God saying," When you start the subject of love, first offer your invocation to God". This has always been the custom in Punjab, where mortal love has been immortalized and enshrined as spirit of love.
Just as every society has dual moral values, so does the Punjabi community. Everything is viewed from two angles, one is a close up of morality and the other is a distant perspective. The social, moral convictions on one hand give poison to Heer and on the other make offerings with spiritual convictions at her tomb, where vows are made and blessings sought for redemption from all sufferings and unfulfilled desires.
But the Sassis, Heers, Sohnis and others born on this soil have revolted against these dual moral standards. The folk songs of Punjab still glorify this rebelliousness.
"When the sheet tear, It can be mended with a patch: How can you darn the torn sky? If the husband dies, another one can be found, But how can one live if the lover dies?"
And perhaps it is the courage of the rebellious Punjabi woman, which has also given her a stupendous sense of perspective. Whenever she asks her lover for a gift she says, " Get a shirt made for me of the sky And have it trimmed with the earth"
Mirza was sent to his relatives' house in Khewa to study, where he met Sahiba and they fell in love. Her family opposed the relationship, and instead arranged a marriage with a member of the Chadhar family. To keep them apart, they confined her in the house, but she contacted Mirza through a messenger. He arrived on his horse, Bakki the night before the wedding and secretly carried her away, planning to elope. However, Sahiba's brothers caught up with them the next day and killed Mirza. Sahiba killed herself.
Sassi Punnun is one of the seven popular tragic romances of the Sindh. The other six are Umar Marvi, Momal Rano and Sohni Mahiwal, Laila Chanesar, Sorath Rai Diyach, Noori Jam Tamachi commonly known as Seven Queens of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. Sassi Punnun was written by the Sindhi and Sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in (1689-1752).
Sassi was the daughter of the King of Bhambour (it is in Sindh whose ruins can be seen today). Upon Sassi's birth, astrologers predicted that she was a curse for the royal familyís prestige. The Queen ordered that the child be put in a wooden box and thrown in the river Indus. A washerman of the Bhambour village found the wooden box and the child in the box. The washerman believed the child was a blessing from God and took her home. As he had no child of his own, he decided to adopt her.
Punnun / Panhu Khan, the son of King Ali Hooth (Hooth, a famous baluchi tribe in Makran (Baluchistan). King Hoot was son of Mir Jalal Khan main Balouch leader and father of Talpur, Rind, Lashari, Hooth, Khosa and Marri people of today) of Kicham (Kech).
Sassi and Punnun meet
When Sassi became a young girl, she was as beautiful as the angels of heaven. Stories of her beauty reached Punnun and he became desperate to meet Sassi. The handsome young Prince of Makran therefore travelled to Bhambour. He sent his clothes to Sassi's father (the washerman) so that he could catch a glimpse of Sassi. When he visited the washerman's house, they fell in love at first sight. Sassi's father was despirited, hoping that Sassi would marry a washerman and no one else. Sassi's father asked Punnun to prove that he was worthy of Sassi by passing the test as a washerman. Punnun agreed to prove his love. While washing, he tore all the clothes as, being a prince, he had never washed any clothes; he thus failed the agreement. But before he returned those clothes, he hid gold coins in the pockets of all the clothes, hoping this would keep the villagers quiet. The trick worked, and Sassi's father agreed to the marriage.
Punnunís father and brothers are against the his marriage to Sassi, and so, for their father's sake, Punnun's brothers travelled to Bhambhor. First they threatened Punnun but when he didn't relent, they tried more devious methods. Punnun was surprised to see his brothers supporting his marriage and on the first night, they pretendeded to enjoy and participate in the marriage celebrations and forced Punnun to drink different types of wines. When he was intoxicated they carried him on a camelís back and returned to their hometown of Kicham.
The lovers meet their end
The next morning, when Sassi realized that she was cheated, Sassi became mad with the grief of separation from her lover and ran barefoot towards the town of Kicham. To reach it, she had to cross miles of desert. The journey was full of dangerous hazards, which lead to her demise. Punnunís name was on Sassi's lips throughout the journey. She was thirsty, there she saw a shepherd coming out of a hut. He gave her some water to drink. Seeing her incredible beauty, dirty thoughts came to his mind, and he tried to force himself on Sassi. Sassi ran away and prayed to God to hide her and then God listen her and she was inside mountains. When Panhu waked then he was himself in Makran he could not stop himself from running back to Bhambhor. On the way he caled out "Sassi, Sassi!" to which the shepherd replied. The shepherd told Panhu the whole story. Then Panhu also asked same prayer and he buried in Mountains like Sassi. The grave still exists in Mountains.
Re: Sakhia (Folklore)
Sohni Mahiwal is one of the four popular tragic romances of the Sindh. The other three are Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiba, and Sassi Punnun.
Sohni, the potter's daughter
Sohni was the daughter of a potter named Tula, who lived in the Punjab near the banks of the Sindhu. As soon as the 'Surahis' (water pitchers) and mugs came off the wheels, she would draw floral designs on them and transform them into masterpieces of art.
Izzat Baig of Bukhara
Izzat Biag, the rich trader from Bukhara (Uzbekistan), came to India on business but when he saw the beautiful Sohni, he was completely enchanted. Instead of keeping 'mohars' (gold coins) in his pockets, he roamed around with his pockets full of love. Just to get a glimpse of Sohni, he would end up buying the water pitchers and mugs everyday.
Sohni lost her heart to Izzat Baig. Instead of making floral designs on earthenware, she started building castles of love in her dreams. Izzat Baig sent off his companions to Bukhara. He took up the job of a servant in the house of Tula, Sohni's father. He would even take their buffaloes for grazing. Soon, he came to be known as "Mahiwal"(buffalo herder).
When the people started spreading rumours about the love of Sohni and Mahiwal, without her consent her parents arranged her marriage with another potter.
Suddenly, one day his "barat" (marriage party) arrived at the threshold of her house. Sohni was helpless and in a poignant state. Her parents bundled her off in the doli (palanquin), but they could not pack off her love in any doli (box).
Izzat Baig renounced the world and started living like a "faqir" (hermit) in a small hut across the river. The earth of Sohni’s land was like a dargah (shrine) for him. He had forgotten his own land, his own people and his world. Taking advantage of the darkness of the night, when the world was fast asleep, Sohni would come by the riverside and Izzat Baig would swim across the river to meet her. He would regularly roast a fish and bring it for her. It is said that once, when due to high tide he could not catch a fish, Mahiwal cut a piece of his thigh and roasted it. Seeing the bandage on his thigh, Sohni opened it, saw the wound and cried.
From the next day, Sohni started swimming across the river with the help of an earthen pitcher as Izzat Baig was so badly wounded and could not swim across the river. Soon, the rumours of their romantic rendezvous spread. One-day Sohni’s sister-in-law followed her and saw the hiding place where Sohni used to keep her earthen pitcher among the bushes. The next day, the sister-in-law removed the hard baked pitcher and replaced it with an unbaked one. That night, when Sohni tried to cross the river with the help of the pitcher, it dissolved in the water and Sohni was drowned. From the other side of the river, Mahiwal saw Sohni drowning and jumped into the river and drowned as well.
The Tomb Of Sohni In Shahdapur City Sindh, which is 75 km from (Hyderabad). According to the legend the bodies of Sohni Mahiwal were recovered from river Indus near Shahdapur and hence are buried there.
An Indian film was also made with the name Sohni-Mahiwal(1984) starring Sunny Deol and Poonam Dhillon.