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
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 Sahiban''''s hand with the marriage henna."
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 puts away his quiver on the
tree. 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
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
"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"