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Sohni Mahiwal is one of the four popular tragic romances of the Sindh, and Punjab followed by Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiba and Sassi Punnun. The story is one of the most prominent examples of medieval poetic legends in the Punjabi, Seraiki and Sindhi languages.

Sohni, the potter's daughter
Sohni was the daughter of a potter named Lula, who lived in Gujarat town (now Dist. Gujarat)in Pakistan, in late Mughal period which is around the 18th century. Sohni's home is now in Punjab (Pakistan). Sohni's shop is situated in Gujrat City Near Rampyari Mahal near the River Chenab where there was a caravan trade route between Bukhara and Delhi.[1]. She helped her father to decorate his pots. 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 Baig, the rich trader from Bukhara (Uzbekistan), came to India on business and when he saw the beautiful Sohni in the town of Gujarat in Punjab (now Punjab in Pakistan), 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 Lula, Sohni's father. He would even take their buffaloes for grazing. Soon, he came to be known as "Mahiwal" (buffalo herder).

Sohni's marriage
When the people got to know about the love of Sohni and Mahiwal, without her consent, her parents arranged her marriage with another potter.

Suddenly, one day the "barat" (marriage party) of that potter arrived to 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.

The end
Sohni Swims to Meet Her Lover Mahinwal, circa 1780 Painting from LACMAFrom the next day, Sohni started swimming across the river with the help of an earthenware 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 earthenware pitcher inside 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 drowned in the river. From the other side of the river, Mahiwal saw Sohni drowning and jumped into the river and drowned as well.

[edit] Sohni's Tomb
Sohni lies buried in Shahdadpur, Sindh, some 75 km from Hyderabad, Pakistan. According to the legend the bodies of Sohni Mahiwal were recovered from the River Indus near this city and hence are buried there.

Translation of Sohni Mahiwal

PCA is proud to announce a free online translation of Sohni Mahiwal coming soon. We have located key texts and will be putting them online for the public to enjoy. As you are aware Sohni Mahiwal is the Romeo and Juliet equivalent of Punjab.


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