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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sassi Punnu di mohabbat da kissa - Tragic love story

Sassui Punnun (or Sassui Panhu or Sassui Punhun) Urdu سسی پنوں; Sindhi سسئي پنھون; Hindi सस्सी-पुन्हू; Punjabi Gurmukhi ਸੱਸੀ ਪੁੰਨ੍ਹੂੰ is one of the seven popular tragic romances of the Sindh and four of the most popular in Punjab. The other six are Umar Marvi, Momal Rano and Sohni Mahiwal, Laila Chanesar, Sorath Rai Diyach, Noori Jam Tamachi commonly known as Seven Queens of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai .
Sassui Punnun was written by the Sindhi and Sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in (1689-1752).

Sassui
Sassui was the daughter of the King of Bhambour (it is in Sindh whose ruins can be seen today). Upon Sassui's birth, astrologers predicted that she was a curse for the royal family’s prestige. The King ordered that the child be put in a wooden box and thrown in the river Indus. A washerman of the Bhambour village found the wooden box and the child in the box. The washerman believed the child was a blessing from God and took her home. As he had no child of his own, he decided to adopt her.


Sassui and Punnun meet
When Sassui became a young girl, she was as beautiful as the fairies of heaven. Stories of her beauty reached Punnun and he became desperate to meet Sassui. The handsome young Prince of Makran therefore travelled to Bhambour. He sent his clothes to Sassui's father (a washerman) so that he could catch a glimpse of Sassui. When he visited the washerman's house, they fell in love at first sight. Sassui's father was dispirited, hoping that Sassui would marry a washerman and no one else. Sassui's father asked Punnun to prove that he was worthy of Sassui by passing the test as a washerman. Punnun agreed to prove his love. While washing, he tore all the clothes as, being a prince, he had never washed any clothes; he thus failed the agreement. But before he returned those clothes, he hid gold coins in the pockets of all the clothes, hoping this would keep the villagers quiet. The trick worked, and Sassui's father agreed to the marriage.


Punnun’s father and brothers were against the his marriage to Sassui(Punnun being a prince and she being a washerman's daughter), and so, for their father's sake, Punnun's brothers traveled to Bhambhor. First they threatened Punnun but when he didn't relent, they tried more devious methods.
Punnun was surprised to see his brothers supporting his marriage and on the first night, they pretended to enjoy and participate in the marriage celebrations and forced Punnun to drink different types of wines. When he was intoxicated they carried him on a camel’s back and returned to their hometown of Kicham.


The lovers meet their end
The next morning, when Sassui realized that she was cheated, she became mad with the grief of separation from her lover and ran barefoot towards the town of Kicham. To reach it, she had to cross miles of desert. Alone, she continued her journey until her feet were blistered and her lips were parched from crying "Punnun, Punnun!". The journey was full of dangerous hazards, which lead to her demise. Punnun’s name was on Sassui's lips throughout the journey. She was thirsty, there she saw a shepherd coming out of a hut. He gave her some water to drink. Seeing her incredible beauty, dirty lustful thoughts came into his mind, and he tried to force himself on Sassui. Sassui ran away and prayed to God to hide her and when God listened to her prayers, land shook and split and Sassui found herself buried in the valley of mountains. When Punnun woke he was himself in Makran he could not stop himself from running back to Bhambhor. On the way he called out "Sassui, Sassui!" to which the shepherd replied. The shepherd told Punnun the whole story. Then Punnun also lamented the same prayer, the land shook and split again and he was also buried in the same mountain valley as Sassui. The legendary grave still exists in this valley. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai sings this historic tale in his sufi poetry as an example of eternal love and union with Divine.

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