Punjabi Folklore

The tragic love story of Sohni Mahiwal

sohni

Most people familiar with Punjabi folklore would know the tragic love story of Sohni Mahiwal. But those who aren’t are in for a very sad treat, so get your tissue boxes ready.

Our Punjabi folklore consists of such breathtakingly beautiful stories that leave all mainstream ideas of passion far behind, in terms of intensity. These stories stir your soul and stay with you for a long time.

This story is also one of those hauntingly tragic yet touching tales of passionate lovers, who were ready to sacrifice everything they had, even their lives, in the name of love.  Knowing the detailed love story of Sohni Mahiwal will make listening to Paar Chanaa De an even more emotional experience than it already is.

Here’s the complete story of their unconditional and timeless love:

“In a village along the Chenab River in Punjab, there was a potter who created the most lovely earthenware pots in the region.  He went by the name Tulla.  His pottery was known in all the land and people would come from all over would to purchase his beautiful pottery.  The pots were well baked and sturdy while coming in various shapes and sizes.  All of the pots had wonderfully intricate hand-painted designs that would set them apart from any other pot.

The day Tulla and his wife had a daughter was the happiest day of their lives.  She was the prettiest baby girl they had ever seen.  Others agreed, so they named her Sohni, meaning “beautiful” in Punjabi.  Their wonderful daughter only grew more and more lovely with age.

sohni mahiwal

Tulla had taught his daughter the art of painting lovely designs on his pots.  As she grew older and Tulla’s eyesight grew worse, Sohni was the only one who painted the designs.  She added her own style to them.  One day, a very wealthy young man from the great city Bukhara in Uzbekistan came to Tulla’s home to buy some pottery.  His name was Izzat Baig.  While he was examining which pieces to buy, he happened to see Sohni, in full concentration on a pot she was painting.  He could not take his eyes off of her.  She was bent with her head in tilted over a small pot used to store sweets in.  Using a small, fine brush, Sohni used meticulous strokes to achieve her desired pattern.  Izzat Baig was in love.  He asked Tulla if he could buy the pot that she was painting.  He replied that that pot needed to be baked still before it could be purchased.  Otherwise, it would be useless and fall apart without being baked.  Izzat Baig said he would return tomorrow for it.

sohni

After purchasing the pot the next day, he found excuses to return day after day just to buy more and more pots.  He had had his fill but his eyes had not drunk enough of Sohni.  They wanted more.  When it was time for him to leave, he told his fellow travelers to go on without him.  He was going to stay in this village for a while longer. Days passed and his money supply dwindled but he continued to visit Sohni at her father’s shop.  Tulla decided to hire Izzat Baig as a water buffalo herder.  Because of this, he became known as Mahiwal, or buffalo man.

Love, by nature, is an infectious disease.  If one is affected, others around the sickly cannot help but to feel the same symptoms.  This was the case for Sohni.  She saw Mahiwal day after day.  She knew he came only to see her and she had grown accustomed to it.  Whenever he was late, her heart sank but as soon as she would see him coming up the road, she felt like she was flying again.  Love had taken a hold of her, too.

The two lovers began to meet in secret.  Their union was blissful.  Their separation, intolerable.  But each day they would meet whenever they could, happily stealing moments just to be with each other.

Love never hides though.  Neither did Sohni and Mahiwal’s love.  This kind of love was forbidden.  It was arranged then that Sohni would marry another potter who lived nearby.  When the marriage ceremony was completed, Sohni moved to a neighboring house.

Mahiwal, distraught, took up residence in a small hut across the river from Sohni’s house.  He renounced the lands he came from and believed that the earth under Sohni’s feet was his dargah, or shrine.

Sohni’s husband was a pottery merchant who had to travel long distances that caused him to be away for days on end.  At night, Sohni would sit up and look across the river at her lover.  One night she got the idea of using a baked earthenware pot to aid her to stay afloat as she crossed the river.  Because she did not know how to swim, she held on the pot tightly.  Her life depended on it.  Mahiwal saw her coming and swam until he met her and they successfully made it across the river in each other’s arms.

sohni mahiwal

Mahiwal, at this point in his life, was poor.  He did not have enough money to properly feed his Sohni.  On one such night when Sohni was going to come, Mahiwal realized that he had no food to feed her.  Without thinking, he carved a piece of his thigh.  Without telling his beloved of his pain, he swam a part of the way to her wearing dark clothes so the blood would not show.  Sohni ate the meager banquet laid before her with great relish that he prepared this meal out of love for her.

After Sohni returned from her nightly meeting with her love, Sohni’s sister-in-law saw her replace the earthenware pot that she had used to travel across the river in the bushes underneath a window.  She stood aghast and thought of a plan to wreck these unsolicited meetings.  Sohni’s sister-in-law placed an unbaked pot for Sohni to use the following night.

sohni mahiwal.

The next night, Sohni took the pot and began her journey to meet her lover.  When she was a quarter of the way across, she realized something was wrong.  The sturdy piece of pottery that served as her lifesaver was melting into the water.  She called for her Mahiwal.  Mahiwal heard his love’s cries.  He swam as far as he could with his limp leg.  He met her drowning body halfway through the river but he could not hold himself up against the current.  While holding on to each other, they both drowned in the Chenab River.”

Legend has it that the bodies of Sohni and Mahiwal were recovered from the Indus River near Shahdadpur, Sindh, somewhere near Hyderabad, Pakistan.

Sohni’s tomb is located at Shahpur Chakar Road, Shahdadpur, and is visited by lovers.

Not only Paar Chanaa De by Noori and Shilpa Rao in Coke Studio 9, Episode 4 is beautifully sung, the story narrated by the song is absolutely heartbreaking. In that song, it seems as if Sohni knows her fate, and is begging for the pot to make it to the shore, so she could meet her beloved one last time. But just when she’s this close to meeting Mahiwal, the pot dissolves in water, and she drowns.

Here’s the song with lyrics for you to go back in time, and relive Sohni’s last moments in that pot before she and Mahiwal drown:

Paar chanaan de disse kulli yaar di
Right there across the Chenab river lies my beloved’s hut

Ghaṛiya ghaṛiya aa ve ghaṛiya
Come on, clay-pot, let’s keep going

Paar chanaan de disse kulli yaar di
Right there across the Chenab river lies my beloved’s hut

Ghaṛiya ghaṛiya aa ve ghaṛiya
Come on, clay-pot, let’s keep going

Raat haneri nadi ṭhaaṭhaan maardi
The night is deathly dark, the river waves surge high around us

Aṛiye aṛiye haan ni aṛiye
Oh listen, girl, don’t be stubborn

Paar chanaan de disse kulli yaar di
Right there across the Chenab river lies my beloved’s hut

Ghaṛiya ghaṛiya aa ve ghaṛiya
Come on, clay-pot, let’s keep going

Raat haneri nadi ṭhaaṭhaan maardi
The night is deathly dark, the river waves surge high around us

Aṛiye aṛiye haan ni aṛiye
Oh listen, girl, don’t be stubborn

Kacchi meri miṭṭi kaccha mera naam ni
I am a pot made of unbaked clay, bound to melt away in the river

Haan main na-kaam ni
Being unsound and unsteady, I cannot but fail in carrying you across

Ho main naakaam ni
I cannot but fail in carrying you across

Haan main na-kaam ni
Being unsound and unsteady, I cannot but fail in carrying you across

Kacchi meri miṭṭi kaccha mera naam ni
I am a pot made of unbaked clay, bound to melt away in the river

Haan main na-kaam ni
Being unsound and unsteady, I cannot but fail in carrying you across

Kacchiyaan da hunda kaccha anjaam ni….
The unsound can only reach an unsound end…

Eh gal ‘aam ni
This is a truth known to all

Kacchiyaan te rakkhiye na umeed paar di
Don’t rely on the unsound to help you reach the shore

Aṛiye aṛiye haan ni aṛiye
Oh listen, girl, don’t be stubborn

Raat haneri nadi ṭhaaṭhaan maardi
The night is deathly dark, the river waves surge high around us

Aṛiye aṛiye haan ni aṛiye
Oh listen, girl, don’t be stubborn

Paar chanaan de disse kulli yaar di
Right there across the Chenab river lies my beloved’s hut

Ghaṛiya ghaṛiya aa ve ghaṛiya
Come on, clay-pot, let’s keep going

Raat haneri nadi ṭhaaṭhaan maardi…
The night is deathly dark, the river waves surge high around us…

Aṛiye aṛiye haan ni aṛiye
Oh listen, girl, don’t be stubborn

Wekh chhallaan paindiyaan nah chhaḍḍeen dil ve
Look, the waves are splashing higher and higher, but don’t lose heart

Wekh chhallaan paindiyaan nah chhaḍḍeen dil ve
Look, the waves are splashing higher and higher, but don’t lose heart

Ajj mahiwaal noon main jaana mil ve
I must go to meet Mahiwal this night at any cost

Ajj mahiwaal noon main jaana mil ve
I must go to meet Mahiwal this night at any cost

Wekh chhallaan paindiyaan nah chhaḍḍeen dil ve
Look, the waves are splashing higher and higher, but don’t lose heart

Haan lai ke khillh ve
So help transport me there

Ajj mahiwaal noon main jaana mil ve
I must go to meet Mahiwal this night at any cost

Haan aiho dil ve
Yes, my heart insists on going

Yaar noon milegi ajj laash yaar di
Tonight, a lover will be greeted with the corpse of his beloved

Yaar noon milegi ajj laash yaar di
Tonight, a lover will be greeted with the corpse of his beloved

Yaar noon milegi ajj laash yaar di
Tonight, a lover will be greeted with the corpse of his beloved

Ghaṛiya ghaṛiya aa ve ghaṛiya
Come on, clay-pot, let’s keep going

Paar chanaan de disse kulli yaar di….
Right there across the Chenab river lies my beloved’s hut….

Ghaṛiya ghaṛiya aa ve ghaṛiya
Come on, clay-pot, let’s keep going

Raat haneri nadi ṭhaaṭhaan maardi
The night is deathly dark, the river waves surge high around us

Aṛiye aṛiye haan ni aṛiye
Oh listen, girl, don’t be stubborn

Paar chanaa de disse kulli
Right there across the Chenab river lies my beloved’s hut

Paar chanaa dey disse kulli…
…across the Chenab river lies my beloved’s hut…

Haan kulli
Yes, my beloved’s hut

Ve kulli yaar di
… lies my beloved’s hut

Ghaṛiya ghaṛiya aa ve ghaṛiya
Come on, clay-pot, let’s keep going

Raat haneri nadi ṭhaaṭhaan maardi
The night is deathly dark, the river waves surge high around us

Aṛiye aṛiye haan ni aṛiye
Oh listen, girl, don’t be stubborn

Phaṛ pallaṛa
Hold firmly to…

Phaṛ pallaṛa pakke murshad da jehṛa tainoon paar lagaawe…
Hold firmly to the sound guide who will take you safely to the shore…

Jihṛa tainoon paar lagaawe
… who will take you safely to the shore

Ghariya (x16)
O clay-pot (x16)

Tainoon paar lagaawe
Take you safely to the shore

Tainoon paar lagaawe
Take you safely to the shore

Tainoon paar lagaawe
Take you safely to the shore

Tainoon paar lagaawe
Take you safely to the shore

Tainoon paar lagaawe
Take you safely to the shore

Tainoon paar lagaawe
Take you safely to the shore

Tainoon paar lagaawe..
Take you safely to the shore…

Ghariya (x7)
O clay-pot (x7)

cry

 

Info courtesy – mangobaaz.com