In the Punjab region of Pakistan and India, there are four major tragic love stories. You got Mirza Sahiba, Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi Punnun, and Laila Majnu. And since Valentine’s Day was this week, I thought I’d tell you about each one, and what makes them so special 🙂
But wait. M, you said there were four stories?
Um, yeah, I did. And?
You listed five up there.
Did I? Huh. Weird. I guess–
Wait, Laila Majnu isn’t Punjabi!? It’s Persian!
….It’s my favorite, okay?
Yeah but you said you were just doing–
I CAN’T HEAR YOU, VOICE OF REASON! *crumples candy wrapper to make it sound like there’s static* I THINK WE’RE BREAKING UP!
…we’re not on the phon–
Okay, sorry about that interruption. Let’s do this!
First up we got-
Author: Shayer Pillo (I think.)
Plot: Your typical Romeo and Juliet type of story. Mirza (which is the dude) and Sahiba fall in love upon seeing eachother for the first time. However, Sahiba’s parents make plans to get her married to someone else. So Sahiba sends an urgent message to Mirza telling him this, and Mirza goes off on his horse to go and save her from the marriage. His family had begged him not to go, because they knew that Sahiba’s brothers were violent. Also because it was on the day of his own sister’s wedding. Yay for sibling love. Anyways, Mirza gets to Sahiba and the two of them ride off into the sunset away from Sahiba’s almost-wedding. Hooray and all, except for the fact that Sahiba’s brothers are following them. Instead of riding to safety though, Mirza and Sahiba decide to stop for a while and they take a nap. Sahiba wakes up before Mirza and sees her brothers coming. She knows that Mirza is an awesome archer, and so she breaks all of his arrows before he wakes up, because she doesn’t want him to kill her brothers. She thinks that she will be able to convince them that she and Mirza should be together. In fact, she was able to do so, and they all live happily ever after as mango harvesters.
Oh wait, you wanted to know what actually happened! Oh my bad. Yeah, no her brothers get there and kill Mirza and then Sahiba kills herself. My bad.
Quote from the story: “You must come and decorate Sahiba’s hand with the marriage henna.” This is the note the Sahiba sends to Mirza. I think it’s pretty cool, because she’s sort of discreetly telling him OH SNAP I’M GETTIN MARRIED COME SAVE ME MAN COME FREAKING SAVE MA CAPPICHE?? Or maybe she’s telling him to put marriage henna on her because she wants to marry him…idk, I like the first interpretation better.
Fun Fact: For some reason, Mirza Sahiba is the only one of the four tragic romances that has the guy’s name before the girl’s name in the title.
Next up is the one and only Heer Ranjha:
Author: Waris Shah (Actually, Shah just wrote a poetic narration of the story.)
Plot: Ranjha is his father’s favorite son, and he gets to play the flute all day while his brothers work. After getting into an argument with his bros, Ranjha leaves and eventually winds up in Heer’s village. He works for Heer’s father, and him and Heer fall in love. He’s a boss at flute playing, and Heer lurvs to hear him play it and stuff. Anyways, for a long time the two of them meet in secret, only for Heer’s uncle to find out and tell her parents, who then force her to marry another guy named Saida Khera. (I know that Ranjha is the protagonist, but I can’t get over how “Heer Khera” has a ring to it. What? Is that so wrong? Yeah, okay I can see how it is. It is wrong. Okay, let’s move on.) Anyways, Ranjha is devastated and joins the Jogis, which is a Hindu community, and renounces the material world. He wanders Punjab, and one day he finds Heer’s villiage. The two of them decide to get married, her parents approve, the wedding bells are ringing, but then THE SAME FREAKING UNCLE AS BEFORE POISONS HEER AND SHE DIES. HE LEGIT POISONS HER. HE PUTS POISON. IN HER LADOO. A SWEET, INNOCENT LADOO.
When Ranjha finds out, he pulls a Juliet and eats the same ladoo and dies.
Quote from the story: The only one I can find is the invocation from the beginning of Shah’s narration: “First of all let us acknowledge God, who has made love the worth of the world, Sir,
It was God Himself that first loved, and the prophet (Muhammad) is His beloved, Sir “
Fun Fact: Heer and Ranjha might have been actual people. I started suspecting this might be the case when I couldn’t find an author of Heer Ranjha, and how there were only narrations of the story. Then at the end of the plot summary on Wikipedia, it’s all “Heer and Ranjha are buried in Heer’s hometown, Jhang. Lovers and others often pay visits to their mausoleum.”
Looking around online, it seems like there’s a debate as to whether these guys actually lived. One side says that the story isn’t true, but that Heer was real, and after her parents’ decline from wealth, a rumor was spread that she had an affair with one of her servants, who I’m guessing was said to be named Ranjha.
Cray stuff here.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE!
Author: Again, can’t seem to find one.
Plot: Sohni is the daughter of a potter. She would draw designs on his pottery, and they would sell the works in their shop. Mahiwal, also called Mehar, comes to the shop on business, sees Sohni and thinks she’s the bee’s knees. He wanders around their shop all the time, and buys tons of pottery from them. Instead of leaving with the rest of his business group when it was time to go, he opts to become a servant in Sohni’s family’s house, despite the fact that he is noble-born. But when people find out that Sohni and Mahiwal love each other, they make it a thing, because Sohni’s not supposed to marry someone outside the community. So Sohni’s parents quickly get her married to this other guy, and Mahiwal despairs and lives in a hut. HOWEVER, every night, Sohni floats across a river on a piece of pottery to see Mahiwal, and every night he catches her a fish to eat. And I think Wikipedia says this next part best:
“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. sohni didn’t realise this first but then she said izzat that this fish tastes different and keep her hand on his thigh then she realised it was a piece of his thigh and cried.”
…I mean honestly I would have rather have just not eaten that night, but hey–you do you, Mahiwal. You just…you do you.
Anyways, one night, Sohni’s sister-in-law sees Sohni going across the river, and the next night she replaces the piece of pottery that Sohni uses with unbaked clay. And when Sohni gets on it to float across, she drowns. Mahiwal sees her drowning, jumps into the river, and drowns as well. Legend has it that their bodies were actually recovered from the Indus River, and that Sohni’s grave is in Hyderabad, Pakistan.
Well, this is probably the most cheerful post I’ve ever done.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE! 🙂
Author: Again, I can’t really find one. However, the Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai was known to incorporate this story into his poetry. Also, the Wikipedia page implies that this one really is just a story, because it refers to it as a folktale.
Plot: Now this one’s pretty interesting. When Sassi is born, astrologers predict that she will bring about the demise of her royal family. So her family has her put in a box and sent down the Sindhu River. Eventually, a washerman finds her and adopts her as his own, seeing her as a gift from God. So she grows up and becomes a knockout and a prince named Punnun hears of her beauty and wants to meet her. So he hires Sassi’s adopted father to wash his clothes, and when he catches a glimpse of Sassi, the two of them fall in love. Sassi’s father, however, had wanted Sassi to marry a fellow washerman. So when he finds out about Punnun’s desire to marry her, he sets him the task of washing some clothes as a test. Never having done something like this before, Punnun fails at the task and somehow manages to rip the clothes up. Smooth. However, Punnun is able to win over Sassi’s dad by slipping some gold coins into the pockets of all of the clothing. Step 1: Win over the dad. Check. So Sassi and Punnun began happily planning their wedding. But this wouldn’t be a Punjabi love story if their weren’t more meddling family members involved. Punnun’s brothers hear about this whole shenanigan, and they’re upset that their brother plans on marrying a washerman’s daughter. They travel to where the two are and they try to threaten Punnun into calling off the marriage. Punnun doesn’t listen, and so his brothers act like they’ve given up. The next day, they take part in the pre-wedding festivities as though there was no beef the night before. But at night, they get Punnun drunk, put him on a camel, and send him back to their own town. In the morning, Sassi freaks out and starts running through this desert to get to Punnun’s hometown. She runs and runs and calls his name, to the point where she starts getting thirsty. A shepard comming out of his hut sees Sassi and offers her water. However, he then attempts to rape her. Sassi starts praying to God to save her, and apparently God listens, because THE GROUND OPENS UP AND SASSI FALLS INTO THE VALLEY OF MOUNTAINS. Meanwhile, Punnun wakes up where he is and, like Sassi, he flips out and starts running across the desert to get back to Sassi. He comes across the same shepard, who tells him what happened. (But he probably left out the part about trying to rape his fiance, I’m guessing). Punnun recites the same prayer as Sassi, and he too falls into the earth. Legend has it that the two of them are still buried in this valley.
I can’t believe that just happened though. Sassi and Punnun just wanted to be together and God was like YO I GOT CHU. IMMA OPEN UP THE EARTH LIKE DONT EVEN TRIP.
Fun Fact: Not only is this story one of Punjab’s four tragic romances, but it’s also one of the seven most popular love stories in Sindhi culture as well. Sindh is one of the provinces of Pakistan.
Quote from the story: I can’t find one, but I did find this:
Aww cute except WHO IS THAT OTHER GIRL. Straight up just photo bombed this picture. You can’t just photo bomb pictures of star-crossed lovers!
Oh can’t I?
No! You really can’t!
NOOOOOO! NOT LAILA MANJU!!!!
…Where…where did she go?
Okay…I-I guess we’ll just…move on?
Well, at least that brought us to Laila Majnu. *fangirl squeal*
Author: Nizami Ganjavi
Plot: Majnu was actually a guy named Qays. He falls in love with Layla and starts composing poems for her. He never gives a thought to how he his poems are received by others, and so people begin to call him Majnu, meaning madman. It was this that caused Layla’s father to deny his marriage proposal to Layla, because he did not want Layla to be married to someone who was thought of as mentally unstable. He gets Layla married to someone else. After this, Majnu flees his tribe and wanders the desert. His family eventually gives up looking for him, but they still leave food out for him, should he need it. It is said that Layla moved far away, and Majnu kept wandering, writing poems in the sand with a stick. Layla eventually dies, whether due to illness or heartbreak, it is unknown. Majnu dies eventually too, and his body was found near an unknown woman’s grave, near a rock into which he carved his last three verses of poetry.
Fun Fact: Eric Clapton’s album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was inspired by the story of Laila Majnu. One of the songs on the album, I Am Yours, is actually a quote taken directly from Laila Majnu. Check it out HERE.
Quote that makes you go asdlfkj;:
My lover asks me:
“What is the difference between me and the sky?”
The difference, my love,
Is that when you laugh,
I forget about the sky.
Guys. He forgets. About the sky. adslkjfl;.
Wait, are we done? Huh. Well this is sudden. Now you know the four romances of Punjab. I hope this didn’t inspire you to go and do irrational things in the name of love. As we’ve learned today, that doesn’t always end well. Anyways, there you go. That’s them. One thing I realized while writing these posts is that none of these stories have elaborate titles. They’re simply the names of the girl and the guy, which seem to say enough on their own. They don’t even have an “and” between the two names. I don’t know if any of these stories are real or not, but if they are real, it would make sense that they don’t have titles.
In all seriousness, everyone of these stories is pretty beautiful. In a culture where love is somewhat of a taboo, it’s cool to see how these love stories are still told today.
Anyways, I guess that’s it for this–
NOOO! Please! Leave me be! I will never again question your right to photo bomb!
I’m not going to photo bomb anymore, okay?
Oh…well that’s good!
Hey, why the long face, former photo bomb girl?
…I never really wanted to photo bomb in the first place, you know.
You didn’t? Well then why did you do it?
Because…because there is no love in my life, okay??
Aww, former photo bomb girl!
I thought if I photo bombed myself into pictures of other people in love, then I would find love too!
That didn’t work out too well, did it photo bomb girl?
Wait a second…I think I might know someone who you might be interested in…
No, really M. I’ll be fine. On my own. Forever.
Photo bomb girl, I’d like you to meet photo bomb stingray:
Well, photo bomb girl? What do you think?
…I think my work here is done.
Have a great week! 🙂
P.S: Don’t trust the ladoos.