Punjabi Folklore: 4 Breathtaking Tales Of Love

Punjabi folklore

Are you a fan of Romeo Juliet like me? Do you also love to torture yourself by reading about the tales of doomed love and sob your heart out hiding under a blanket? Then you would absolutely dig these epic love stories from the Punjabi folklore!

Punjabi folklore is a must-know quality topic that allows you to appreciate the Punjabi culture much better. Folklores include expressions related to beliefs, dance, music, sayings, and history. For this reason, the characters or the storyline usually reflect real-life adventures like Heer Ranjha, Sassi Punnun, Sohni Mahival, Mirza Sahiba, and so on. Let’s learn more about these tales in this blog post!

Qualities of Punjabi Folklore

The main qualities of Punjabi folklore are the Punjabi people and romance. Most of the Punjabi stories are based on romance, and that too with sad endings. Here are two critical features of Punjabi folklore that you must know about.

#1 People Of Punjab

Punjabi people are known for their open-heartedness. They live in a joint family system and will be there for each other in every thick and thin in life. They have a sizable interest in agriculture, most of which are found in farming. Punjabi people love celebrating every festival and have specific traditions and rituals to cherish every festival. These celebrations can be childbirth, funeral, hair cutting, wedding, etc., all of which are reflected in folklore.

#2 Punjabi Music And Folk Dances

In Punjab, folk stories were told in the form of folk music. Gidda, Sammi, Luddi, and Bhangra are some traditional Punjabi dances that farmers initially performed during the celebration of the harvest season while the people told the Punjabi folk stories in the form of Punjabi folk songs

Bhangra is a unique dance form and is extremely famous worldwide. This dance form has specific beats also heard in significant parts of the west. Along with Bhangra beats, Sufi music and Qawwali have tremendous importance in Punjabi music genres.

Punjabi folklore

Popular Love Stories From Punjab

Some famous love stories are tales from Punjabi folklore, and the heroines of these amours went against the rules and norms of society to earn their love. The favorite folktales of Punjab are Sassi Punnu, Sohni Mahival, Heer Ranjha, Laila Majnu, and Mirza Sahiba. All of these demonstrate the true essence of Punjabi art.

Technically, most of the stories revolve around one critical point: All the protagonists who went against the social convictions were punished with deaths, but their deaths were glorified and are still remembered as love standards for the rest of the couples today.

1. Heer Ranjha (ਹੀਰ ਰਾਂਝਾ)

This engrossing love story starts when Ranjha (ਰਾਂਝਾ) gets into a row with his brothers over land, and he enters the village where Heer (ਹੀਰ) resided. Heer was a pretty lass from a wealthy Jatt Family. When Ranjha entered the town, he was hired by Heer’s family as custodians of her father’s cattle. Ranjha was a great flute player and was noticed by Heer, and she was impressed by his flute (bansuri – ਬਾਂਸੁਰੀ). Both Heer and Ranjha fell in love and started meeting secretly on the farm for many years.

One day, one of the Heer’s uncles, Kaido, caught them meeting behind the scenes. Kaido proved to be the rebel, and he complained to her parents. Her family hastily got Heer engaged to another man. Ranjha got heartbroken and became Jogi (ascetic) in the love of Heer, and he pierced his ears and renounced this materialistic world. After some time, they reunited during Ranjha’s visit to the village. During that time, Heer’s father pulled the rabbit out of the hat and agreed to their wedding. 

Heer Ranjha’s Death

All the dates got fixed, and the disaster happened on the wedding day. Heer’s mean uncle added poison to Heer’s food. When Ranjha learned about this rebellious act, he rushed towards Heer, but she had already eaten the poisoned food. Heartbroken, Ranjha also ate the same food, and both of them died. 

This romantic love story was written by the most popular Punjabi poet Waris Shah. Some believe that the story initially had a happy ending, but the poet deliberately made it sad and left the readers with a lump in their throat. 

Punjabi folklore

2. Mirza Sahiba (ਮਿਰਜ਼ਾ ਸਾਹਿਬ)

Mirza (ਮਿਰਜ਼ਾ) and Sahiba (ਸਾਹਿਬ) were cousins. Both used to live in separate towns, and they met and fell in love when Mirza was sent to Sahiba’s city for studies. Both wanted to get married, but this course was quite demanding, and Sahiba’s parents proved to be the biggest hindrance. They found this match unacceptable, and disapproved of the marriage. 

They fixed Sahiba’s wedding with Tahar Khan. Mirza returned to his town, but Sahiba soon sent him a heartbreaking message. She requested him to come and embellish her hands with mehendi (henna) during the marriage rituals. Mirza received this message and planned to elope with Sahiba. 

He arrived at Sahiba’s house on his horse Bakki one night before the wedding day and took away Sahiba in great secrecy. After riding for many hours, Mirza took a break and rested under some trees. Sahiba’s brothers were following them, and when Sahiba noticed that her brothers would catch them. She knew that Mirza was an excellent marksman, and he would kill her brothers. 

Mirza Sahiba’s Death

She broke all the arrows that Mirza had and was sure that her brothers would not do any harm to him once they would see her. But she soon got a reality check when her brothers killed Mirza. On seeing that Sahiba couldn’t hold the pain anymore, she killed herself with a sword. Thus, this folktale also ends on a sad note.

3. Sohni Mahival (ਸੋਹਣੀ ਮਹੀਵਾਲ)

This is also famous folklore in Indian Punjabi culture. Sohni (ਸੋਹਣੀ) was a potter’s daughter, hailing from the Gujrat region (India). Sohni was a great artist and used to draw blooming designs on her father’s pots. A well-off trader from Uzbekistan named Izzat Baig (Mahival – ਮਹੀਵਾਲ) saw the pretty lass Sohni and fell in love with her.

He left his country and started working as a flunky at Sohni’s house. When Sohni saw him, she also fell head over heels for Izzat or Mahival. Sohni’s father Tula and his family, when they heard tittle-tattle about the love story of Sohni and Mahival, he found it safe to arrange Sohni’s wedding to another potter. On her marriage day, her parents bundled her off in the palanquin.

After this tragedy, Izzat Baig repudiated the world and started living like a pillarist over the runnel in a small shack. Every night Sohni used to come to the riverside to meet Mahival, and he used to swim on the other side and meet her. One day, Izzat fell ill and could not swim, so Sohni started swimming using the earthenware pitcher as a float.

Sohni Mahiwal’s Death

Sohni’s sister-in-law doubted Sohni, and she started following her. In doing so, she discovered the original story, and one bad day she replaced the pitcher with the crude one, which broke down in the water.

On that night, when Sohni floated on that pitcher, she drowned. Mahival saw that he jumped into the water and died while drowning. Their dead bodies were recovered from the stream and were buried there.

Punjabi folklore

4. Sassi Punnu (ਸਾਸਿ ਪੰਨੂ)

The love story of Sassi Punnu is one of the four most famous romances in Indian Punjabi folklore. Sassi (ਸਾਸਿ) was a descendant of the king of Bhambour. At her birth, the astrologers of the royal family speculated that Sassi would bring the downfall of the king and the entire family.

After hearing this, the queens put Sassi in a box and asked the servant to throw her in the river. The washerman found the box and adopted the kid.

On the other hand, Punnu (ਪੰਨੂ) was the son of king Mir Hoth Khan. He eagerly wanted to meet Sassi when he heard stories about her beauty. He traveled to the village of Bhambour, and after reaching there, he gave some clothes to the man who adopted her to wash as he was a washerman so that Punnu would easily see Sassi.

Both the Sassi and Punnun fell in love when they saw each other for the very first time. Sassi’s father didn’t oppose the marriage, but Punnu’s family caused hindrances.

Sassi Punnu’s Death

Punnu’s brother carried Punnu off on the marriage night and returned to their town, Kitcham. The following day when Sassi heard about this incident, she couldn’t take this grief and ran barefoot to Kitcham. She passed by a shepherd on the way. Tired and heartbroken, she prayed to God to bring her death. Miraculously, the earth slit open and swallowed her. 

On the other side, when Punnu listened to this, he prayed the same and was buried in the same valley. This ended their love story, as they ascended to the Divine. There are graves still existing in the mountainous valley. Shah Abdul Latif has paid a beautiful tribute by writing Sufi poetry about their romance.

Wrapping Up

These were some of the most prominent tales from the Punjabi folklore. Countless Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu language films have been made in the last 60-70 years on these epic love stories.

Not only these stories and the films based on them allow you to marvel at the literary works of the Punjabi artists but also help you gain a deeper knowledge of the culture. They also make way for you to learn the Punjabi in more depth.

For simpler lessons, there is always the Ling app. So if you eagerly want to learn a language, the best thing you can do is install the Ling app from Google Playstore or App Store!

Want to read more relevant posts? Also, check out Punjabi Relationship Vocabulary and Punjabi Proverbs.

Updated by Punya

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