Legend of Sohni Mahiwal: Beyond an immortal love story and a musical folklore

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Sohni Mahiwal, the two divine lovers who although could not spend a lifetime together but are still named together even today, when centuries have passed since this eternal story existed. Their story has passion, and a devotion to see the beloved one each day despite the worldly norms and nature’s fury.

Sohni Mahiwal

The immortal legend

Sohni, the daughter of a renowned potter Tulla, was a skilled painter who helped her father in designing beautiful pots. Izzat Baig, a rich young man from Uzbekistan came to buy some pots when he saw Sohni painting on a pot and got mesmerized by her.

He visited each day until his fellow travellers returned and his supply of money ended. It was Sohni’s father who kept him as Mahiwal (Buffalo herder). Their love blossomed, but Sohni was married off to another potter who lived nearby.

A distraught Mahiwal built a hut across the Chenab river waiting for his Sohni. To see her beloved one, Sohni,who didn’t know swimming, swam across the high tides of Chenab using an Earthen pot (Ghada). Every day she swam across to see a glimpse of Mahiwal, who used to wait whole day beside the shore of Chenab.

Sohni Mahiwal
Painting depicting Sohni crossing Chenab using Ghada and Mahiwal waiting for her on the other side

One such day, her sister-in-law, out of jealously exchanged her earthen pot (Ghada) with a half-baked one(Kachcha Ghada). And Sohni as usual took the earthen pot to swim across Chenab and meet Mahiwal, but as fate has got it, Sohni realized midway into the river that the pot was slowly dissolving as it was a half-baked one.

Painting on Sohni Mahiwal

Still, she was adamant to meet Mahiwal, knowing that she would drown amidst the high tides of Chenab. Sohni drowned into the Chenab while Mahiwal jumped into the river after witnessing a drowning Sohni. It was the next day when their dead bodies were recovered from the river. Though they departed from the earth, their legend is still very much alive as their immortal love.

Beyond the immortal legend

The legend of Sohni Mahiwal,where a half-baked earthen pot led to her drowning amidst the high tides, is often used as a metaphor in Sufi poetries to describe the importance of right spiritual guide. A true teacher is like a full baked earthen pot which does not submerge in the worldly spins.

Such a teacher would help a devotee swim across the high tides of worldly distress towards the divine energy. But if the teacher is not spiritually awakened, then devotee will drown in the worldly distress unable to reach the divine.

Sohni Mahiwal

The importance of the right spiritual guide is mentioned in Sufi poetries citing Sohni’s drowning. Such a deep hidden meaning unfolds with this immortal legend of spiritual love.

Musical Folklores and its influence

This immortal love legend has been sung since centuries in the form of mesmerizing folklores such as Paar Chanaa De and Kande Utte Meherman ve. The lyrics often come out as a conversational dialogue between the half-baked earthen pot and Sohni, where the earthen pot tries to stop her but she proceeds.  

Paar Chanaa De
Kande Utte Meherma Ve (starts at 3:31)
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